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Orange County — By Abbie Mood on April 10, 2010 at 4:08 pm
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Review: El Capitan Canyon in Santa Barbara

If you drive north, out of Orange County and through Los Angeles, to where all you see is the Pacific Ocean on one side and fields on the other, you will eventually come to El Capitan Canyon, where luxury meets nature.  A unique resort property nestled in a canyon across the freeway from the ocean, El Capitan Canyon offers individual cabins and tents that allow you to experience nature without sacrificing hotel luxuries.

My Creekside King Cabin

After checking in at the front lodge, I followed one of the staffers to my cabin, a Creekside King, meaning that it was next to the creek and had a king-sized bed.  Sure enough, the creek was babbling behind my cabin.  After a quick walk through of my room (which included a Jacuzzi bath tub and a fireplace), I was instructed that guests are supposed to park in designated parking lots after unpacking their things, which cuts down on traffic and noise around the cabins, furthering encouraging relaxation and rejuvenation.

I  met with Kendra Summers, the revenue manager, who took me on a tour of the property.  We drove through the Mesa Yurt and through all the different cabin and tent areas, up to the top of the canyon to the Safari Village Function Area and the exclusive Safari Cabin.  There is only one Safari Cabin on the property, overlooking the entire canyon and the ocean.  It is more like a house than a cabin, with a gorgeous deck and spacious rooms.  Kendra told me that many people hold weddings in the area behind the cabin because it is so scenic and secluded.

After touring the Safari Cabin, we went out of the canyon and over to the llamas and the goats, which are popular with the children.  While the llamas are in a huge field and tend to not be as friendly, children are able to get up close and personal and pet the goats.  When I visited, there were even a few baby goats napping in the sun.  During the spring and summer, there are guided hikes on Saturdays from the resort over to the organic gardens, the llamas, and the goats (a 1.25 mile hike).

Inside the Creekside King Cabin

After grabbing a delicious veggie burger from the Canyon Market ($8.75) and some homemade guacamole ($7.75) I headed back to my cabin by the creek and relaxed, eventually lulled to sleep by the creek and the singing frogs.

I headed over to the Canyon Market for breakfast, and filled up on a Vegetarian Scramble ($7.50), which included eggs, red and green bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, potatoes, and toast.  I was full of energy and ready for a hike on the Bill Wallace trail, one of several trails originating in the canyon.  The hike was well worth the effort for the ocean and canyon views!

A Hot Stone Massage ($155 for 85 minutes) was just what I needed after a morning of hiking.  The massage cabin is also next to the creek, so the sounds of the water, the birds, and the occasional squirrel definitely set a peaceful mood.

The time of year that I visited El Capitan Canyon (late March) is a quiet time at the canyon with few guests.  During the summer there are guided tours, yoga classes, and other activities to participate in, including a Summer Concert Series that runs from May-September.

During my stay, I found out about two great specials going on until June 3rd that give the extra special attention one  might be looking for.

The Romantic Retreat Package ($600, tax not included) is two nights in a Deluxe King Cabin next to the creek.  It includes a Canyon logo keepsake blanket, a bottle of chilled Italian sparkling wine, two Canyon logo champagne flutes, a box of handmade French truffles, and an aromatic candle.  You can also upgrade the package ($785, tax not included) to include single or side-by-side couple massages.

If you’d rather getaway with 3 of your closest friends, the Girlfriend’s Getaway package ($760-1,049, tax not included) is for you!  Enjoy two nights in a Deluxe Safari Tent or Cedar Cabin and four 55 minute Canyon Classic massages, a bottle of sparkling wine, four logo champagne flutes, and four pairs of handmade truffles from the local French chocolatier.

El Capitan Canyon is a great place to get back to nature with luxury camping accommodations for a quick weekend getaway, or a week long family vacation.   The Creekside Cabins offer the seclusion and privacy that couples might be looking for, while the Canyon Lofts or Suites are set up around large grassy areas keep children busy.

Accommodation prices range from $135/night to $795/night depending on the type and the season.  Parts of the canyon have wireless internet access, but I was unable to get service from my room.  It wasn’t so bad though, it enabled me to truly “unplug” and relax, the reason I went there in the first place!

El Capitan Canyon is located at 11560 Calle Real, Santa Barbara.  Visit El Capitan Canyon’s website or call (866) 352-2729 for reservations.

Thank you to Kendra Summers and Terry Illiano (Director of Sales) for coordinating and accommodating my stay for the purposes of this review.

Photo Credits: Abbie Mood

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