ELLE (Canada) - - Body -

THE SPA AT EL EN­CANTO, SANTA BAR­BARA, CALIF. The staff greeted me with “It’s a beau­ti­ful day to­day!” when I ar­rived at the ho­tel, main­tain­ing the cha­rade that there is an­other kind in this mag­i­cal place. The re­cently ren­o­vated property, which is nes­tled in the hill­side be­tween the Pa­cific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Moun­tains, ori­gin­ally opened in the 1920s. Ca­role Lom­bard and Clark Gable are said to have so­journed here to es­cape the rigours of ex­treme wealth and fame; it still feels like the sort of ease­ful Amer­i­can Riviera refuge one should visit via con­vert­ible with one’s coif wrapped in an Her­mès carré. (Alas, I ar­rived via Hyundai rental.) Here, bun­nies bob about the ho­tel’s three hectares of ter­raced gar­dens: a fan­ta­sia of streams, palms and cit­rus trees abloom with cot­ton­tails as fluffy and white as the lo­cal gar­de­nias. Even the ho­tel’s res­i­dent cow (yes, there is one; her name is El­lie) is pam­pered with reg­u­lar mas­sages, baths and hoof pedi­cures (when she isn’t busy pro­vid­ing dairy for the ho­tel’s restau­rant) to en­sure her supreme com­fort. When I vis­ited, I was preg­nant and feel­ing (ap­pro­pri­ately, as it turns out) Hol­stein-like, so I par­took of a treat­ment of my own at the ho­tel spa. Treat­ments in­volve in­gre­di­ents as recher­ché as Patag­o­nian sea­weed, kaolin clay and lo­cal Caber­net- and Pinot-grape seeds. I opted for a fa­cial and spent an hour I wish I could re­live get­ting lath­ered in propo­lis (used by an­cient Egyp­tians to em­balm mum­mies—now used, ev­i­dently, to em­balm the mid­dle-aged) and royal jelly (the sub­stance se­creted by hon­ey­bees that is used to nour­ish and nur­ture the queen bee)—all prod­ucts cour­tesy of Bev­erly Hills fa­cial­ist Linda Ross. I floated back to my room, my com­plex­ion feel­ing as fresh as a Cal­i­for­nia gar­de­nia. OLIVIA STREN h

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