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If tasked with analyzing the layers of sound at a polo match, the pop of an uncorking champagne bottle would function as a sort of marker, punctuating an otherwise steady stream of giggling and easy chatter.
I discovered this with eyes closed, lying on my stomach, at Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club in Santa Barbara, Calif. I had just exerted minimal effort while participating in the grand polo tradition of divot stomping, but that was reason enough for me to break for a back massage with Pat, a cheery massage therapist at nearby Belmond El Encanto.
While I admit to understanding more about massages than polo, I feel fairly confident in my assessment that Belmond El Encanto knows how to elevate a polo spectator experience. If possible, land an invite to Belmond’s annual VIP party in an open-air tent at the edge of the field (a portion of invites are given to luxury travel advisors). In addition to seated massages performed by The Spa at El Encanto’s talented therapists, Belmond arranges free-flowing champagne and chilled rose wine served from 3-foot-tall bottles, as well as inspired small bites ranging from hummus tarts to jelly donuts. At this year’s event held on July 22, sketch artist Chasing Linen and her team produced whimsical watercolor portraits of attendees — fanciful hats and all.
During other times of the year, hotel guests can still experience Belmond-style horsemanship through its Santa Barbara Polo package, which includes two tickets and a transfer to a polo match, two welcome cocktails and a daily $60 breakfast credit. Polo season runs from May through mid-October, and the big events take place each Sunday.
It’s true that general admission and even cabana tickets can be purchased directly through the club, but when going through Belmond El Encanto, the match becomes an extension of the hotel’s high-end luxury experience — another insight revealed to me during my alfresco massage.
The DetailsBelmond El Encantowww.belmond.com