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Getting Chic by the Sea Near Santa Barbara

September 03, 2000

The brochures feature young models wearing flashy big rocks and not much else. The resort, on 78 oceanfront acres, is described, oddly, as a "90-minute drive from Los Angeles and Beverly Hills." The spa alone has the square footage of 25 average family homes.

Glamour and indulgence is the image being pushed by the Bacara Resort & Spa, which opened this weekend in the Goleta area north of Santa Barbara (Hollister Avenue exit off U.S. 101). And prices reflect the image: Rates for the 360 rooms start at $375 per night and top out at $5,000 for the 3,700-square-foot seaside Presidential Palace.

The $220-million resort is believed to be the biggest to open in the area in at least a decade, according to Koleen Hamblin, spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau.

With the rooms come access to reserved tee times at the nearby Sandpiper and Glen Annie public golf courses, 42 spa treatment rooms and a two-mile beach. Also on site: three restaurants, four lounges, a 220-seat screening room and an 11,300-square-foot ballroom. The architecture is described as "Spanish Colonial, mission-style." The owner is New York City-based financier Alvin Dworman.

As for the name "Bacara" (ba-CA-ra), officials say it's a neologism combining "Santa Barbara" with "Anacapa," the name of the Channel Island variously translated from the Chumash Indian language as "mirage," "island of deception" and "ever-changing." Telephone (877) 422-3533.

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