December 10th, 2011

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The newly redone Hyatt Santa Barbara.

The other hotel I stayed at during my Thanksgiving trip with grandma out to Santa Barbara was the newly opened Hyatt Santa Barbara.

Now, this wasn’t a new-build hotel. Rather, this used to be the Hotel Mar Monte, an 80-year-old property that Hyatt bought and redid to the tune of $9 million before reopening the first 92 rooms this past summer. There are still 79 left to go, and all the hotel’s function space, but they’re expected to be completed early next year. The overall theme is to accentuate the original Spanish-style architecture (like the Four Seasons, it’s all two-story buildings) but put in all contemporary furniture and amenities.

I booked a standard room but was “upgraded” to a Mountain View King (you can see the view in the gallery below) thanks to my Hyatt Diamond Status. Not much of an upgrade, but at least I wasn’t on the ground floor I guess.

My room had your average king-size Hyatt Grand Bed with a red throw on it, a little sitting area of two leather armchairs arranged around a tiny breakfast table—it was a bit odd seeing those big overstuffed chairs and the small table, with an overhead lamp that sort of reminded me of a Motel 6 in the old days.

The room also came with a flat-screen HDTV, an iHome Stereo with iPod docking station, and miracle of miracles, the bathroom actually had new bath products in it—no more White Ginger for me!

I didn’t spend too much time at the hotel since it was a busy holiday weekend, so I didn’t get the chance to swim in the pool or eat at its restaurant, Bistro 1111—my family went out on State Street to a great little family-owned bistro called Jane Restaurant where I had chicken piccata—but I had breakfast in my room the next morning, and the egg breakfast tacos were pretty good.

My one complaint was that parking was a pain. Valet was $20 and self-park was $15. The situation, however, was kind of motel-ish, where you just sort of park by your room. However, the outdoor lot was always full, so you had to leave your car underground, and it was complicated to get in and out.

Overall, I’d say my experience was fine. Nothing memorable, but certainly good. The hotel technically upgraded me to a room with a view of the mountains, it was comfortable, new and clean, and I got it for a good rate. The location was great, near the beach and the start of town’s main drag, State Street. It was also close to my family—and sometimes that’s really all that matters.


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