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Quiet beachfront getaway: A review of Hyatt's Mar Monte Hotel in Santa Barbara

April 04, 2021
10 min read
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The last time I stayed at a hotel was a year ago when I left New York City and flew back to Southern California to be closer to family during the COVID-19 pandemic. Little did I know that would be the last time I would be traveling anywhere, at least for the foreseeable future.

When I landed at LAX, I self-quarantined at a local hotel for 14 days before going home to my house in the South Bay area of Los Angeles County.

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A year later, the farthest I’ve traveled outside my immediate neighborhood has been to Dodger Stadium to take my mom and aunts to get their vaccines. Beyond that, I’ve stayed close to home, taking every precaution necessary to keep my family safe and minimize exposure to COVID-19.

As more people get vaccinated in California, I’m feeling more comfortable venturing out a little farther. So when the opportunity to get away from the South Bay for a few days came up, I jumped at the chance for a change of scenery after a year working entirely from home.

My getaway destination? The Mar Monte Hotel - in the Unbound Collection by Hyatt in Santa Barbara — a sleepy beachside city about two hours north of the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

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Booking

Hyatt’s Unbound Collection includes a global portfolio of one-of-a-kind upscale hotels that promise “shareable, story-worthy experiences for guests.”

The Mar Monte is a Category 5 hotel in the World of Hyatt program, meaning award nights cost 20,000 points apiece. Thankfully, it's very easy to earn Hyatt points since the program is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards at a 1:1 ratio. Right now, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is offering a sign-up bonus of 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

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This means you could earn three free nights at this property just by signing up for the card, meeting the requirements of the sign-up bonus and then transferring your points into your World of Hyatt account. I booked my two-night stay with a total of 40,000 points.

(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)

If booking by cash, the typical average nightly rate at Mar Monte ranges from $259 for a standard room with a queen-sized bed to $339 for a suite. A daily resort fee of $30 is waived if you have Globalist status.

Location

If you want to step back in time, the Mar Monte embodies a Spanish colonial feel that evokes an old-school California vibe. Opened in 1931 as Vista Mar Monte, this 200-room property is spread across three three-story buildings.

(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)

But the real star is Mar Monte’s location off East Cabrillo Boulevard. If you’re lucky enough to snag a room with a balcony facing East Beach, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Pacific Ocean just a few feet away. At night, you’ll be rocked to sleep by the sound of the ocean waves just outside your window.

(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)

The hotel is near local attractions such as the Santa Barbara Zoo and Stearns Wharf, but far enough away from the hustle and bustle of a downtown area.

Check-in

When I entered the lobby, the hotel staff were masked up and behind large clean plexiglass barriers. The hotel enforced COVID-19 protocols including masks and social distancing.

(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)

Checking in was seamless and I was immediately upgraded from a standard room with a queen-sized bed to a room with a king-sized bed and a balcony facing the ocean, thanks to Globalist status.

(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)

The hotel staff made sure I knew about all the amenities that came with Globalist status — including free parking, which would normally be $20 a day.

Room

My room was located in the center building called Santa Cruz. It was on the second floor so I took only one flight of stairs to get to my corner room.

(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)

When I opened the door, the room was flooded with Instagram-worthy natural lighting. It was a lot smaller than I expected but spacious enough to be comfortable.

(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)

The 300-square-foot room featured an outdoor balcony facing East Beach complete with two comfy chairs and a table, making it an ideal place to get some work done while enjoying the California sun.

(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)

The room featured everything you would expect: a 55-inch flat-screen HDTV, in-room safe, refrigerator, Keurig and individually controlled heating and air conditioning.

(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)

The king-sized bed was soft and comfortable.

(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)

The decor in the room is chic, adding a modern touch to this historic hotel.

The bathroom was huge as it also contained an open closet with fluffy bathrobes and an ironing board.

(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)

The shower featured a rainfall showerhead.

(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)

The decor in the bathroom featured the same modern, chic styling as the rest of the room.

(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)

The Mar Monte offers free Wi-Fi but since I needed to be on several video calls, I opted to upgrade to premium, faster internet. Since the room was booked with Globalist status points, the additional fee for higher-speed internet was waived. According to Speedtest, the upgraded service was a good decision at 14.1 Mbps.

Amenities

During my stay, California announced that Santa Barbara County had moved to the red tier, a less restrictive reopening phase which allows for more indoor business operations at limited capacity.

While some things loosened up, the Mar Monte adhered to previous safety measures and indoor dining remained closed.

(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)

Some of Mar Monte’s services were closed, like the fitness center. But the pool and hot tub were open for those wanting to take a quick swim.

(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)

If you are fond of exploring a new area by bike, the Mar Monte offers complimentary bikes you can use for three hours. I did not get a chance to take advantage of this but there’s no better way to explore a new place than via bicycle.

(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)

Throughout the property, there are many places to unwind.

Indoors, you can spend some time in the lobby and office area.

(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)

And for those who love bocce, you can borrow equipment from the hotel and play on their court.

(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)

On the lobby terrace, the open-air lounge is the perfect place to catch up on your favorite book or get some work done.

(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)

Food and beverage

Due to COVID-19 restrictions based on local health advisories and requirements, Mar Monte’s restaurant Costa Kitchen & Bar was closed. Cafe Lido was limited to serving breakfast either by grab-and-go or via contactless room service.

(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)

Thanks to Globalist status, breakfast was free so I opted for contactless room service, where they would deliver food by knocking on the door and leaving it there.

(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)

For other meals, you’re on your own. There are not many options near the hotel so you would have to drive to the center of town for more choices or take a five-minute walk to the nearby Convivo restaurant.

Overall impression

Whether you’re a Californian or visiting from out of state, Mar Monte is a great option if you’re looking for a quiet beachfront getaway. Its location can’t be beaten. It’s just the right amount of solitude and yet still close enough to major attractions.

(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)

Even though I was born and raised in Southern California, I had never been to Santa Barbara before. And after a decade away living in New York City, this short trip has inspired me to rediscover my home state and explore more of Hyatt’s Unbound Collection.

Featured image by (Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees