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78 Montecito Magazine Fall 2018–Winter 2019 riginally built in 1927 by architect Reginald Johnson, the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara is famed for its authentic Spanish Colonial splendor, stunning oceanfront setting and exemplary service. In January 2018, massive debris flows wreaked havoc in Montecito and on the streets surround- ing the resort. Fortunately, the resort didn’t suffer major damage, but still needed to close for nearly five months to complete repairs. A team of experts worked diligently to restore the resort to its original radiance, which included extensive landscaping and restoration of some back-of-house areas and guest rooms. The 22-acre resort reopened in June 2018, at the start of the prime summer season. “On behalf of our 600 passionate and dedicated em- ployees, I am thrilled to announce that our iconic resort is back—and better than ever,” said General Manager Karen Earp. Earp points out the expansive, meticulously maintained gardens—a lush oasis fitting of a royal estate—as a shining example of the resort’s “bet- ter than ever” appearance. Originally designed by Ralph Stevens, the gardens were restored in the early 2000s. Landscape Manager Ezequiel “Zeke” Gil, who has tended the resort gardens for 40 years, leads a full-time team of 15 talented gardeners to care for more than 3,000 plant species. The gardens include 200 species of palm (more than 3,000 trees), including the kentia palm (the most extensive collection outside of Australia’s Lord Howe Island), Mexican fan palm (the tallest trees at the resort), the extremely rare Trithrinax campestris Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara Lush & Tropical Gardens Restored O palm, and sweet-scented sugar palm. Other high- lights include the only Buddha fig in Santa Barbara, a Moreton Bay fig that dates back to the 1800s (Santa Barbara’s second largest tree) and Schefflera (the largest collection of this genus outside of Hawaii). The Four Seasons welcomes guests to celebrate the resort’s 90 years of luxe hospitality by exploring the garden, along with other new and refreshed amenities. Self-guided botanical walking tour maps are provided in guest rooms and at the concierge. Guests can also join seasonal guided tours, when Zeke Gil proudly leads guests to 48 of the resort’s rarest specimens, including the mountain cabbage tree ( Cussonia paniculata ), yellow birds of paradise and the bird catcher tree ( Pisonia brunoniana ) . u PHOTOS COURTESY FOUR SEASONS RESORT THE BILTMORE SANTA BARBARA