March/April 2023 | Santa Barbara Life & Style Magazine

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THE REAL DEAL March/April 2023
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MARCH/APRIL 2023

EDITOR IN CHIEF & PUBLISHER Ottocina Ryan

ART DIRECTOR Johanna Smeds

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY Silas Fallstich

BRAND PARTNERSHIPS & ADVERTISING LEAD Lindsey Garrison

SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER Alexandra lee

CONTENT COORDINATOR Olivia McGovern

WRITERS Sofia Deeb, Silas Fallstich, Meg Fontaine, Laura Hupp, Alexandra Lee, Hannah Meyers, Emma Roberts, Alexandra Sharova, Maddy Sims

PHOTOGRAPHER Jared Fix

INTERN Laura Hupp

ON THIS COVER

March/April January/February (corrected credits)

PHOTOGRAPHER

STYLIST

MODEL

HAIR

Santa Barbara Life & Style Magazine is published by Santa Barbara Life & Style, Inc. 26 West Mission Street #5, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

For distribution, advertising and other inquiries: info@sblifeandstyle.com

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Holly Parker Tilly Mills Katty Ukhanova with Wilhelmina MAKEUP Susie Lynn Corinne Viruet with Carlyle Salon & Style Bar LOCATION Santa Barbara Trapeze Co. PHOTOGRAPHER Jared Fix ART DIRECTOR Johanna Smeds STYLIST Lux Wright MODEL Kyle Richards MAKEUP Crystal Trottier HAIR Ja'Nice Ramos Zeena Zaki dress Anne Sisteron earrings & rings Norma Kamali jacket, Allora by Laura Amomento top, Jake and Jones Loewe sunglasses, Cynthia Benjamin
TRUE LOVE ALWAYS a highly curated lifestyle botique We look forward to welcoming you to our store 1115 Coast Village Road XO, Lori Owner, Lori Runnfeldt TRUE LOVE ALWAYS 1280 Coast Village Circle, Ste B • Montecito, CA MONTECITOMEDSPA.COM BEAUTIFUL Skjn STARTS HERE. Body Contouring Emsculpt Neo Fillers Neuromodulators Laser Hair Reduction IV Therapy Hydrafacial Chemical Peel RF Microneedling Facial Rejuvenation Aquagold Laser Facial (805) 450-6262 For more information or to schedule an appointment, call or DM us on Instagram or Facebook @montecitomedspa.

CONTENTS

MARCH/APRIL 2023

IN EVERY ISSUE

SBLS SPOTLIGHT 21

What’s new–from art to cocktails.

SPRING SOIREE 22

Celebrate spring with these must-haves.

FEEL GOOD 24

What to sip on and what to do to be your best self.

48 HOURS 98

A guide for your Santa Barbara getaway.

DINING

WITH A TWIST 26

A big-city bar, right in the heart of Santa Barbara.

I’M HAVING A RELATIONSHIP WITH THIS PIZZA 32

Napoli meets Santa Barbara at L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele.

THE TAVERN AWAITS 38

Live out your wild west dreams at Mattei’s Tavern.

PROFILES

DYNAMIC DUO 44

These female CEOs are the driving force behind Santa Barbara’s thriving tourism industry.

THE REAL DEAL 50

See Kyle Richards in a new light.

FASHION

THE SWEET LIFE 64

Set your oven to 350.

TRAVEL

NO PLACE LIKE COMO 76 Leisure is perfected on Lake Como.

WELL-BEING THAT LASTS 82 Redefine wellness at Sensei Lanai.

OVER A RIVER AND BEHIND A WATERFALL 88

A land like no other, discover Iceland’s South Coast.

SNOWED IN 94

Chateau du Sureau gives you another reason to visit Yosemite.

TAKING RESIDENCE MARCH 2023

Making her debut at the Santa Ynez Inn in March 2023, enjoy sophisticated simplicity at its most luxurious. She gives new meaning to the phrase “well taken care of.” Surrounded by enchanting foliage, lush grounds, and understated elegance, The Genevieve casts quite a spell. Join us as we celebrate her arrival. With storied spaces behind every door, she has left the book open for whatever comes next. VISIT THEGENEVIEVE.COM TO LEARN MORE THE GENEVIEVE | 3627 SAGUNTO STREET | SANTA YNEZ, CA 93460 | SANTAYNEZINN.COM | 805.688.5588 UNLOCK YOUR STORY
805-691-9395 1623 Mission Drive, Suite M Solvang
DOWNTOWN SOLVANG OPEN DAILY Spacious courtyard Inviting indoor/outdoor tasting room
NOW IN

SBMA

SBLS SPOTLIGHT

Appointment-only,

Hotel Mar Monte’s Costa just debuted an entirely new brunch menu of standout dishes, including the Burrata Avocado Toast with cherry tomato confit and Smoked Salmon Benedict with caper hollandaise.

Follow @sblifeandstyle for daily behind the scenes content, new restaurants, events, getaways, and more...

SB LIFE & STYLE spotlight
1. COCKTAIL CHRONICLES Manor Bar’s new cocktail menu debuts drinks inspired by female-written literature, from the spunk of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women to the Mexican realism of Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate 2. NATURAL WONDER eco-friendly textile gallery Slo Curio showcases natural-dyed art pieces and biomorphic lighting whose earthy palettes evoke the peace of natural landscapes. 3. NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM features the renowned work of husband-wife duo Ed and Nancy Keinholz in “Scenes from a Marriage,” as well as Joan Tanner’s homecoming exhibition “Out of Joint,” through May. 4. LET’S GET BRUNCH

spring soirée

RING IN SPRING WITH THESE TOP PICKS FOR FASHION, BEAUTY, AND CULINARY SUPREMACY

1

Dior Addict Lip Tint

Unspoken rule: spring calls for a punchy, bright lip. This transfer-proof lip tint provides long lasting color with a barely-there sensation, in an array of fresh pink shades.

DIOR.COM

3

Adoore Riviera Dress Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking. This front-tie midi dress is bursting with seasonal allure, perfect for wine tasting, garden parties, and everything in between.

ADOORE.COM

Ceremonia Sunday Reset Duo Spring cleaning also includes your locks. This cleansing duo includes a papaya and pink salt scalp scrub and Babassu butter mask to rejuvenate split ends.

CEREMONIA.COM

4

Warmer weather is an inexcusable invitation to raise a glass. Commemorate the season with this refreshing sparkling brut rosé, made with grapes from NorCal’s renowned Sonoma wine country.

5

Big Green Egg Grill

Take backyard barbecue to new heights with this whimsical ceramic outdoor cooking system, which functions as a state of the art grill, slow cooker, and pizza oven all in one.

SB LIFE & STYLE covet & crave
BIGGREENEGG.COM 2
Alma Rosa Brut Rosé
ALMAROSAWINERY.COM

FEEL GOOD

Raise Your Glass

TASTE OF PORTUGAL

GATHER AROUND

When you’re in the mood for a sparkling wine and dreaming of a vacation in southern Europe, look no further than BBQ Wine from Portugal. BBQ standing for Best Bubble Quality. The grapes grown on their farm Quinta de São Roque in Northern Portugal are the key to the wines’ freshness. BBQ wine features white, red and rose sparkling wines characterized by their tiny, continuous bubbles providing ultimate refreshment. Pair the sparkling white with seafood, the sparkling red with barbecued foods, and the sparkling rose with appetizers amongst many other delicious combinations. Praised by Rosewood Miramar

LOVE LETTERS

El Encanto, the wine makes an excellent addition to any celebration as a taste of Portugal in Santa Barbara. bbq-wine.com

With so many incredible wines produced in Santa Barbara, it can be tough to pick a bottle. Filmmaker and author Alexandria Rizik’s label Poetry In A Bottle presents two stunning wines, showcasing her creativity. Inspired by personal reflections in quarantine she decided to extend her love for wine stating, “This passion for winemaking stems generations back, my great-grandparents were survivors of the Armenian genocide and they owned a vineyard in the Caucasus Mountains that was destroyed during the massacre. So this wine is also an ode to them and my pride in my heritage.” Both her light Sauvignon Blanc and intricate red blend are made in Santa Ynez’s Happy Canyon, featuring custom artwork and original poetry on the bottle. Alexandria’s ultimate goal: “I want my wines to serve as an experience that brings family, friends, and loved ones together.”

poetryinabottlewine.com

Santa Barbara’s famed wine country is now packaged into one stylish and relaxing tasting room. The Ritz-Carlton Bacara’s reimagined Bacara Wine Tasting Room showcases not only the best pours of Santa Barbara, but the genius behind the bottles by inviting regional winemakers to interact with guests daily. Every Wednesday through Sunday a different winemaker is on site to guide you through the long list of sips, as well as offer insight into their own history and journey on their Central Coast vineyards. The Bacara offers a true Santa Barbara wine tasting experience with its focus on regional wines that is both personal and interactive.

ritzcarlton.com

SB LIFE & STYLE this season

A GUIDE TO SPRINGING FORWARD IN HAPPINESS AND HEALTH

Raise Your Spirits

BREATHE IN

When exploring options for healing and wellness, turn to the ancient Chinese practices of acupuncture and cupping. These treatments can be done by themselves or combined to treat a wide variety of issues and for overall wellness with a multitude of benefits. UCSB alumna Dr. Jetta Harris prides herself on her attention to detail and individualized care, with a mission to “offer someone hope, healing and relief that fits their lifestyle at this point in time.” She states, “Traditional Chinese and East Asian Medicine addresses an individual’s needs to support their mind, body and spirit by addressing the root (cause) and branch (manifestation) of the reason they’re seeking care.” Acupuncture is only the tip of the iceberg in her breadth of practice and knowledge, as she loves to utilize traditional fire cupping, gua sha, and more. sbfamilywellness.com

TURN THE PAGE

Best selling author, psychotherapist, and SB resident Dr. Jennifer Freed’s new book, A Map to Your Soul, is perfect for those looking to gain a clearer spring. The astrology and wellness expert delves into the art of living life to the fullest through twelve parts referring to the twelve houses in astrology with many opportunities for personal reflection. After a long career consulting clients on psychological and spiritual wellness, this book represents a lifetime of wisdom and genuine desire to help others. “I wanted to offer people a way to love themselves and others more. I wanted to inspire people to realize their gifts,” says Jennifer. She hopes people will come away with the core belief that “happiness is dependent on living a fully expressed and laudatory life.” Readers can look forward to learning more about themselves in this journey through the pages.

jenniferfreed.com

RELAX AND RECHARGE

It’s getting hot (and cold) in here! For those looking to recharge after a training session or just after a long day of work, Evolution Fitness offers contrast therapy through their infrared saunas and cold plunge tanks. Contrast therapy involves exposing the body to both hot and cold immersion. The benefits are not just physical but psychological. “The simple act of cold immersion affects your nervous system in a way that activates your body to "reset" to its natural/healing state,” founder Dr. Izzy Lira states. The method of contrast therapy dates back to the Romans and is central to Dr. Lira’s vision of wellness. He remarks, “Having a sound balance of work and rest is paramount to each individual's well-being.”

evolution-fitness-sb.com

with a

RIVIERA BAR PUTS A MODERN, SANTA BARBARA SPIN ON A CLASSIC CITY PUB

SB LIFE & STYLE dining
Siesta
Pimms
and Ginger

When I stepped into Riviera Bar, I could’ve sworn I was in an old-school Chicago pub. Of course, that effect is by no mistake. The place itself was inspired by Au Cheval, a renowned booze and burger destination in the heart of the Windy City.

Looking around, you’ll notice the sleek, modern light fixtures, stools, and bartop. You'll recognize the swordfish from Paradise Cafe hanging on the wall. You’ll see The Womble Wall of Fame–a wall of notable Santa Barbara athletes named after Phil Womble, Santa Barbara's unofficial sports historian, longtime resident of Hill House, and friend of owner Kevin Boss. You’ll be greeted like family by the staff. And you’ll remember, very quickly, you’re in Santa Barbara.

Riviera Bar feels like a hometown hangout that’s been around forever, even though it just opened its doors a year and a half ago. Owner Kevin Boss has been in the Santa Barbara food scene for quite some time. Boss and his partner started Paradise Cafe in 1983, and he also worked on other wellknown eateries, such as Shoreline Cafe. When the time came to shutter Paradise Cafe, he decided to go after a new dream. Boss brought fellow Paradise Cafe veterans with him—from a bartender to the HR manager to the general manager, Oliver Davis. “The band’s back together,” Davis says. “It’s just a different brand and location.” The new location? The Sportsman Lounge, located on Figeuroa just off State Street.

“Kevin always loved the old Sportsman space and wanted to restore the bar and kitchen,” says Davis. “The building has been a restaurant and bar space since the early 1940’s—the aim was to recreate the mid-century tavern with a modern food and beverage program.”

Modern is the perfect way to describe nearly everything at Riviera Bar. It’s not too dark like older pubs can be. There’s soft lighting throughout so you can see the entire space. The wood paneling is a chic dark brown hue that makes the space feel cozy rather than dated. The leather booths are pintucked for a sleek,

Old Tom Crusta

smooth finish. The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, and other classics play on the speakers (at a conversation-friendly level, I should add).

I sat down and immediately felt at home. There were friends sitting at the bar, a couple sitting on the same side of another booth, and a family behind me. It’s not only the decor that feels contemporary. The drinks are all fresh takes on classic cocktails.

I started with the Ginger Pimms: a classic British punch, with extra ginger and ginger syrup mixed with cucumber vodka. After my first sip, I wondered why Pimm’s isn’t always served this way. The addition of spicy ginger with cool cucumber is the perfect alteration to the traditional Pimm’s cup, which can be a bit too sweet.

Next up was the Old Tom Crusta, made with orange liqueur and mellowed out by gin and orange bitters. The hint of cherry and lemon at the end make for a light, fruity finish that’s crisp and sour. The sugared rum keeps my lips from puckering from the tartness.

The drinks are so well-balanced that you almost don’t realize how strong they are— until you do. Luckily, Riviera Bar offers a simple, bar-inspired menu to fill you up, complete with a double cheeseburger (reminiscent of Au Cheval), chicken sandwich, market fish, and prime rib (served Wednesday through Saturday). “We wanted the menu to be simple and executed well,” Davis says. “We source our meats from farms in Texas and Idaho and our vegetables from the local famer’s market.”

For my next round, I tried the Stella Collins and the Siesta. Davis described the Stella

Collins as a summer lemonade, and he couldn’t be more spot on. This pretty pale pink drink contains Titos and a Meyer lemon cordial, plus wine and bitters to round out the light lemon flavor.

If you’re looking for something a little stronger, the Siesta is the drink for you. I typically shy away from mezcal, but this drink used it perfectly. Paired with tequila, Campari, grapefruit, lime, and sugar, this concoction has a bold, round flavor that keeps you coming back for more.

The final cocktail of the night was the Riviera Spritz (given the name of the bar, how could I pass it up?). The refreshing prosecco sparkler was the perfect ending to my visit–lemony, light and not too sweet.

The drink menu extends beyond cocktails–Riviera Bar offers several local wine and beer options. “The people who built this place are all locals,” Davis says. “We wanted to touch on local support—how could we not with such great wine in our backyard?”

The entire bar feels like a love note to Santa Barbara. And sitting in my booth looking around at the bar, I could tell the city loves it back. It was a rainy Wednesday night, yet the seats inside were filled.

As for what’s next, Davis says he hopes the bar will continue to grow. “The goal has always been to be an exceptional, local establishment centered around great cocktails, simple yet serious food, wines that complement the menu, and friendly and professional service: a destination neighborhood city bar,” he says. “We’re the new kids on the block and it’s going well— we’re excited for what the future holds.” *

“It’s not only the decor that feels contemporary. The drinks are all fresh takes on classic cocktails.”
Ginger Pimms

with this PIZZA”

NEW ITALIAN SPOT L’ANTICA PIZZERIA DA MICHELE REMINDS US WHY LESS IS MORE

tucked along State Street is a slice of Napoli. Originating in Naples, Italy, L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele found its first American home in Los Angeles, and recently expanded to Santa Barbara. A ceiling of outdoor hanging lights welcomes us to the restaurant, and we are seated at a small table. To the right of me, I catch a glimpse of the bustling kitchen. Straight ahead, a bar offers a front row seat to the production of their world-famous pizza. An array of lantern-like light fixtures above us and the blazing stone oven provide immense warmth. The ambience reflects the food: simple, yet sophisticated.

First up is the Fiori di Zucca. Deep-fried zucchini flower mingles with sweet ricotta cheese, creating a juxtaposition of crunch and cream. Sautéed rounds of squash decorate the plate and give an extra kick of zucchini flavor. With such a delicious start, I am eager for more.

Our next plate is an off-menu scallop dish served over rosemary polenta, sautéed enoki, and porcini mushrooms. I smell it before I can see it–the rosemary aroma filling my nose as the dish is served. The composition of the herb polenta, tender mushrooms, and buttery seared scallops melts in my mouth.

“I’m having a relationship
Margherita Pizza
Cacio e Pepe
Diver Scallops

The Polipo finishes off the appetizer portion of the meal. The braised Spanish octopus is served atop cooked potatoes tossed in a caper, olive, tomato compote. Thick tentacles loop around the plate. I go in for my first bite, and the chewiness of the meat and softness of the starch complement each other beautifully.

If there’s one thing to know about me it’s that if Cacio e Pepe is on the menu, I’m ordering it. I’ve encountered my fair share of the cheesy, salt and pepper combination and L’Antica Pizzeria makes the best one I have ever had. The ingredients are simple, which Chef and General Manager Rick Frame explains is a core value of the restaurant, yet the dish is perfected.

Fun fact: L’Antica Da Michele found fame after its cameo in the film Eat Pray Love. Julia Roberts’ character Elizabeth Gilbert enjoys a margherita pizza at the Napoli location and famously says, “I’m having a relationship with this pizza.” The feeling is mutual as I try the renowned dish for myself. The sweet tomato sauce is garnished with creamy Fior Di Latte, pecorino, and fresh basil. The crust, thin but not too crispy, serves as a superb vessel for the white cheese medley and rich tomato base. I find myself going back for slice two and three rather quickly.

When our server asks if I want to take a look at the dessert menu, the answer is absolutely. As I peruse, I am torn between the Torta Della Nonna (“Grandma Cake”) and Tortino al Cioccolato (Chocolate Lava Cake). Our server offers advice in the form of a special: Frittelle Di Frankie, an ode to owner Francesco Zimone. Nutella encased within deep fried pizza dough and peppered with glistening sugar and served with a side of the fluffiest homemade whipped cream is set down in front of me. Tearing apart the warm bread, hazelnut spread pours out. It is safe to say that the Frittelle Di Frankie is a euphoric end to a magical evening.

When Rick approaches our table to bid farewell, I am eager to ask, “Why Santa Barbara?” His response is humorous, “Honestly, I think they just wanted an excuse to have a house here.” And I am so thankful they did. *

“An array of lantern-like light fixtures above us and the blazing stone oven provide immense WARMTH. The ambience reflects the food: simple, yet SOPHISTICATED.”
Polipo

THE TAVERN a

DINNER AT MATTEI’S TAVERN PLAYS OUT LIKE A WESTERN FILM

SB LIFE & STYLE dining
Emma | PHOTOGRAPHS BY Silas Fallstich | PHOTO ASSISTANT Eden Erickson

Discovering The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos is like walking onto a Hollywood movie set. Originally built in 1886 as a stagecoach stop for horses, Felix Mattei's rustic country inn still specializes in good eating for weary travelers.

Beautifully gnarled live oak and pepper trees line the property, and the white tavern entrance has tall columns out front–like hitching posts welcoming visitors to park their horses while eating or staying overnight. If I listened close enough, I could almost hear the clapping of hooves riding up. Once we entered the dimly-lit, oil lamp-clad lobby, the host escorted us to the main dining room, accented with wood and copper touches. Walking past the open-kitchen concept, I couldn’t help but stare into the mesmerizing wood fire ovens. Our table was set with dried flowers, copper flatware, and leather menus to tantalize our taste buds. Above our banquette booth was a post to hang (cowboy) hats, and horse blankets decorating the wall like tapestries.

The magnificently designed restaurant holds much more than expected. Mattei’s reopened in November 2022 and quickly became the social hub of the community. The building also hosts Felix Feed & Coffee, a separate bar and lounge, and a smaller nook named Gin’s Tap Bar. The tap bar carries fourteen local wines and beers, and pays homage to Gin Lung Gin, a man of Chinese descent who took over the kitchen for forty-five years, starting in 1910. (He was famous for cooking with doves, bucks, and making seafood chowder and fritters–all delicacies we should explore more, in my opinion.)

As if it were a movie set, all the extras (hosts and servers) came from the wardrobe department in western attire, with a lightly colored bandana or turquoise bolo tie of their choice. Neutral hued clothing and pioneer-type boots completed their uniforms. The kitchen team wore their chef jackets with dark aprons, hoping to hide any flying food throughout the night.

Sweetbreads & Squid Ink Rice

And then, there was the movie director. Chef Rhoda Magbitang reminded me of the quote by Helena in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night's Dream: “And though she be but little, she is fierce.” Prior to working at two of the most iconic hotels in Los Angeles, Chateau Marmont and Petit Ermitage, Chef Rhoda’s passion began as a child. Growing up in the Philippines, she helped her grandmother make four a.m. fish market runs, prep, and cook out of a rented stall in Manila. After moving to Los Angeles years later, Rhoda briefly became a preschool teacher for the LAUSD. Her love for the kitchen re-kindled when she began feeding her students, and she received the vision to go to culinary school in Pasadena, where she became French-trained. And this led her, ultimately, to her greatest feat yet: becoming Executive Chef of Mattei’s Tavern for the luxury Auberge Resorts Collection.

There began our culinary journey with Chef Rhoda. We sat in excited anticipation as we left it up to her to surprise us with every dish. And surprise us she did.

Starting with the hickory smoked Okinawan sweet potatoes that were cooked on coals, and an umami flavored abalone liver mousse with mushroom confit, sea beans, and miso butter, we knew we were in for a treat. I reveled in the fact that for the first time, I actually enjoyed sweetbreads. They were delicate and creamy, and the roasted grapes alongside with the oxtail jus complemented the flavors.

Attempting to not get full on the bread and cultured butter, we tried a side dish of apples and crispy brussels sprouts, pickled fresno chilis, pistachio aillade, and mint garnish from Chef Rhoda’s garden. Next were chicories, which are strong bitter greens that reminded

me of endives. The anchovy dressing, fried capers, and sourdough breadcrumbs brought to mind a play on a caesar salad. The dressing wasn’t creamy though, and had more herb notes coming through. Heavy cheese was doused on top, which of course, I would never decline.

Next was squid ink rice topped with lightly charred octopus. The presentation was a showstopper, and the blend of piquillo pepper plus dollops of smoked paprika aioli pleasantly surprised us. This was followed by New Zealand ocean trout, and the direction Chef was going in was getting us ready for the final act (my personal favorite)–a New York cut Tavern Strip, topped with onion rings and a side of creme fraiche marble potatoes. The hint of smoked tomato butter enhanced the steak with a creamy sweetness.

The most fun part of Chef's menu was the playful mango sticky crispy rice dessert, with coconut shavings atop. I suddenly longed to eat a bowl of Rice Krispies cereal from my childhood. The creaminess of the rice reminded me of a snow cone. She also wowed us with a gluten-free, luscious dark chocolate souffle with warm butterscotch sauce and vanilla bean creme anglaise. And, as a parting gift, we were offered chocolate chip cookies to go: my fiance’s all time favorite. This solidified his decision in naming Mattei’s Tavern his new favorite culinary delight.

From the entry until the end, dining at Mattei’s Tavern was like a cinema. The menu read like a feature film script, full of unexpected twists and turns. Chef Rhoda mastered grilled meats and has a deep respect for fresh vegetables and fruits, which she incorporates artfully into her dishes. My palate tingles at the thought of a return visit. *

“We sat in excited anticipation as we left it up to her to surprise us with every dish. And surprise us she did.”
Squid Ink Rice
Parlor Rouge

DYNAMIC DUO

THE POWERHOUSE FEMALE CEOS OF VISIT SANTA BARBARA AND SB CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ARE SPEARHEADING THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY WITH THEIR LATEST INSPIRATION CAMPAIGN—AND LONGSTANDING FRIENDSHIP

SB LIFE & STYLE profiles

One of life’s profound pleasures is to stumble across a pairing so divine in nature that it simply makes sense. Tequila and lime. Bread and butter. Bonnie and Clyde. Kristen and Kathy. While these matching “K” names may evoke associations with the Kardashian clan (of which they’re not members), these dynamite female figures are influencers in their own right. The duo is spearheading efforts to reinvigorate Santa Barbara’s booming tourism industry, with an inspiration campaign demonstrating the lifelong benefits of careers in hospitality. As CEOs of Visit Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce, respectively, they’re working two sides of the same coin—though it’s not only their individual talents, but an extraordinary friendship that secures their spot as the women of the hour.

As President and CEO of Visit Santa Barbara, Kathy Janega-Dykes leads her organization in pouring out al fresco dining guides, swoonworthy photograph spots, and where to indulge in wellness weekends from Summerland to Goleta. You’ve probably stumbled across its Instagram page, where decadent brunch spreads and stunning riviera vistas provoke excited comments from its 136,000 loyal followers. While Visit Santa Barbara is first and foremost a destination marketing organization whose primary mission is to inspire sustainable tourism, it’s also so much more—strategically attracting visitors to support the local business community, while advocating its needs to maintain an optimal quality of life.

“On my favorite days, I'm certainly the eyes and ears of the company, looking for new ways to help the community residents, our employees, and certainly our business owners reach their

maximum potential through all of our work,” says Kathy, whose grand total of 18 years at Visit Santa Barbara has provided her unparalleled insights to the county’s inner workings.

Enter trusted confidante Kristen Miller, who recently celebrated her 20 year anniversary at the Chamber of Commerce. After the merger of the Goleta, Santa Barbara, and Carpinteria Chambers of Commerce in 2020, Kristen found herself as the CEO of this new, streamlined organization. The Chamber’s primary goal is to improve the local economy and job market with a large focus on hospitality, but also through a thriving technology and manufacturing industry. “Yes, we're absolutely working towards the same goals,” Kristen says of the Chamber and Visit Santa Barbara. “But we have lanes that we stay in.” Kathy is promoting to the rest of the world, Kristen is focused on what happens once visitors actually arrive. “It's our responsibility to hand them a map, make sure that they go to our stores, make sure they eat in our restaurants, and make sure they come back for another visit,” she says.

The two have recently joined forces for Santa Barbara’s newest hospitality project, an “inspiration campaign” featuring the success stories of real employees and residents who’ve worked their way up the hospitality ladder. Kristen is quick to clarify: this is not a job fair or a research study. “When you talk about inspiring people, we immediately went to the idea of stories,” she remarks. SB Chamber’s website reveals a myriad of such stories, undoctored and authentic, to demonstrate the potential trajectory of a career in hospitality. It highlights employees, for example, who started as food runners and became front of

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house managers, and line cooks who became top chefs. Take Skip Abed, who used to clean boats and teach sailing lessons as a young man at Santa Barbara Sailing Center. He’s now the owner.

“The best way to inspire people and bring back the panache, the je ne sais quoi, the esprit de corps, of being in the hospitality industry is not by looking at a job listing and what the requirements are,” Kristen says with gusto. “It's by hearing the story of someone who started as a gardener, and then became the general manager. Or started as a line cook, and ended up being a chef.”

This campaign comes at a desperate time, born out of feedback from local businesses that couldn’t reopen after the pandemic—not for lack of demand, but because of staff vacancies. Hospitality, of course, was the industry hardest hit by the pandemic on a national scale, though Santa Barbara’s labor shortage has only exacerbated the struggle to bounce back. As Kristen points out, Santa Barbara is not a “big city,” and therefore lacks an endless supply of workers to pull from. “Access to a qualified workforce,” she says, has always been one of the Chamber’s top three barriers to business. Once hotels began to reopen for leisure travel, Kathy’s Visit Santa Barbara had two goals. “Save as many jobs as possible, and save as many businesses as possible.” Though lofty, these goals harken back to the promise of economic vitality in Santa Barbara’s 25,000 hospitality jobs, and in its supremacy as a world-renowned tourist destination.

Kathy explains that the campaign’s goals are also twofold: firstly, to employ as many people in hospitality as soon as possible, and secondly, to inspire people to consider hospitality career opportunities in the long-term. “My hope for this campaign is that we can match students, workers, and even retirees with opportunities that they would enjoy and find meaningful for their lives,” she says. “For many, these opportunities can lead to long-term careers, but others may right now just have their needs built with short term job opportunities.” Whether it’s recent graduates or serious professionals, native residents or

international immigrants, the hospitality industry is welcome to all.

Another fascinating aspect to watch, in addition to the campaign’s digital influence and in-person career events, will be its progress in education advocacy. “That's the more long term work that we want to do with schools, colleges, and other agencies and institutions to build a better pipeline for people around this industry.” They hope to include Santa Barbara City College’s culinary school, classes at UC Santa Barbara, and countywide high school programs within their prospects. “We need to be doing a better job of reaching down into the youth and the people who already live here, and inspiring them to be in this industry,” Kristen says, adding that this part of the campaign will be less flashy and obvious, “but it's serious behind the scenes work that needs to happen.”

For both CEOs, a day in the life certainly epitomizes variety. At the Chamber, Kristen’s day to day involves relationship building with government and elected officials, meeting with members on obstacles, and celebrating community successes with ceremonies such as ribbon cuttings. “One of the best things, if not the best thing about this career that I'm in, is the creativity,” Kristen says. With a unique background in the fine arts, she’s found her transition to business to be surprisingly creative, with simply a different execution. “Every day, what I learn, who I meet, what we talk about, creates an inspiration where we want to do something creative to respond.”

Kathy is similarly grateful for her high profile position within the community. “I feel very privileged to represent Santa Barbara in my capacity. In my role as CEO, I oversee an extremely talented team that markets travel to the Santa Barbara South Coast,” she says, working at once with journalists, marketing and PR teams, paid advertising and social media campaigns, website content, and more. “I enjoy working with all of our community stakeholders, along with the Chamber, to continue to protect the reputation and experience of the destination brand, and certainly

manage development and change responsibly,” Kathy says. “It’s really about balancing outcomes for our residents, workers and our employers.”

The duo, like their respective organizations, have a symbiotic relationship—Kathy and Kristen both admit the other is always top of mind. They’ve been at this together for some 18 odd years, though it’s hard for them to keep track. “I’ve just respected the heck out of what she's been able to do there, and how she does it, and what they've been able to accomplish,” Kristen says of Kathy and Visit Santa Barbara.

In what ways specifically, I ask? “One is that she is so passionate and so competent, and so efficient.” Another is how laser-focused her organization is. Nonprofits can oftentimes be “driving around the highway, bumping into each other,” Kristen jokes. “We don’t.” With clearly defined lanes, Visit Santa Barbara sticks to destination marketing and creating a tourism “brand” for visitors and residents alike, while the Chamber focuses on “the local economy and jobs, building communities that have a strong base of business.”

There’s no doubt how much each comrade appreciates the other. “It’s way more fun when you just admire somebody's drive and her abilities, but also that it's working,” Kristen says. “And I think she feels the same way. I hope so,” she laughs. Kathy confirms this sentiment, commenting, “Certainly we can’t do it without each other.”

For both, it all comes back to an undying love for the community of Santa Barbara. “We don't like to say we have it all,” says Kathy. “But frankly, we have anything from wine tasting, to water activities, to whale watching, to theater, to concerts, et cetera. People are really looking for this destination that provides an incredible amount of experiences, and something for every member of their traveling party.”

Santa Barbara has always been known, she adds, for its excellent customer service towards both its visitors and residents. “I believe this is one of the

differentiators that Santa Barbara offers compared to our competitors,” says Kathy. “I always encourage our residents to be tourists in their own backyard.”

One of the campaign’s most inspiring stories features Jose Yupanqui, Director of Housekeeping at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara. A former house attendant at a JW Marriott in Lima, Peru, he used to polish floors and shampoo carpets. Now, he leads the Bacara's housekeeping team in making a stunning impression on guests with their in-room goods and amenities. The Chamber posits that Jose believes he’ll reach

his next dream, becoming General Manager of a property, because “the hospitality industry is a place where everyone can contribute and thrive, regardless of their background, ethnicity, religion, or social status. It’s a place for everyone to call home.”

I ask both Kathy and Kristen their thoughts on this sentiment. “I am not surprised that Jose said something so elegant, and eloquent,” Kristen reflects. “I can't think of a better way to get paid and get trained, and work with the public, and work on a team that means a lot to you, while also improving somebody's life. Because they came on a trip here and ate in a restaurant, or had an experience with a retail clerk or a concierge, that made them feel good.”

It all harkens back to one palpable philosophy—the people make the place. Kathy and Kristen are both living, breathing examples of the human dedication and drive keeping Santa Barbara top of mind for visitors all around the world. Kathy reflects, “I'm very fortunate that I've traveled a considerable amount in my lifetime, and certainly there is still no place like Santa Barbara.” She’s right—and this dynamic duo will keep it that way, for a long time to come.*

“For both, it all comes back to an undying LOVE for the community of SANTA BARBARA.”
Kathy Janega-Dykes, Visit Santa Barbara President & CEO

THE

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REAL DEAL

WRITTEN BY Alexandra Lee | PHOTOGRAPHS BY Jared Fix | ART DIRECTOR & PRODUCER Johanna Smeds STYLIST Lux Wright | MODEL Kyle Richards | HAIR BY Ja'Nice Ramos | MAKEUP BY Crystal Trottier

INTRODUCING THE KYLE RICHARDS YOU HAVEN’T MET. THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF BEVERLY HILLS STAR SPEAKS ON PRIORITIZING HERSELF, THE TRIALS OF MOTHERHOOD, AND THE ALL TOO “REAL” TRUTH OF LIVING A LIFE ON CAMERA.

The reality television mogul arrives on set in unassuming jeans and a teddy bear coat, in the midst of a treacherous downpour as flood warnings are issued throughout Santa Barbara County. Unfazed by the weather, Kyle Richards poses effortlessly in a sleeveless, leggy, cinched-waist dress, tipping a watering can in matching lilac hues as if the “housewife” designation has actually held true. As celebrity stylist Lux Wright fastens many a precious Anne Sisteron necklace around her impossibly high-cheekboned visage, she inquires about the price, as if she’d be honored to add it to her collection. She’s mistaken—surely, it would be the necklace’s honor. She pours out witty, candid comments and the team laughs back, a sparkling testament to the reality star’s unequivocal presence. But when the cameras shut off and the Birkins are placed back on their shelves, what makes Kyle Richards

Kyle Richards? The original Real Housewife of Beverly Hills shines light onto her daily behind-the-scenes—spoiler, it’s not all soirées and sbagliatos. This off-camera Kyle is acutely self-aware, an avid reader, an introvert. She’s

passionate about self development, she’s a mother of four. And she’s got a voice.

Amongst vapid tabloids commenting on her latest hair color and who shaded who at the most recent RHOBH social event (a quick Google search on the star presents over 24 million results), this real housewife is, well… real. She greets me with an air of charismatic nonchalance, in between workouts after dropping off her youngest, 15-year-old Portia, at school. I’m not curious to know what Kyle is wearing to the next red carpet, but rather what she’s doing tonight, on a rare night off. “I am home reading a book,” she says—reading is more or less her escape. “Maybe scheduling a massage.” In between shoot days, she relies on meditation, exercise, and time in nature as her three pillars for sanity—and as the only remaining original cast member on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, she needs it. The burgeoning businesswoman, actress, and creative isn’t afraid to speak her truth on reality television’s striking downfalls, all the while demonstrating her talent of taking each opportunity as a learning lesson.

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“The reality world is a completely different beast. And yes, I intentionally use the word beast,” she says, without a smidge of irony. When Kyle accepted the Real Housewives job just over 13 years ago, she never predicted it would be this. “I thought well, this could be an easy job for a few months, and I can do it with my children.” At the time, she was scraping by with small acting parts, like playing the nurse on medical drama ER, while living in an apartment with her husband, Mauricio Umansky, and first daughter Farrah, whom she had when she was only 19. “My husband and I didn't have money at the time. It was paying our health insurance and I could, you know, breastfeed in my dressing room.”

A decade later, the Real Housewives franchise has swelled to an international sensation with locations in New York City, Atlanta, New Jersey, Miami, even Dubai. “In those 13 years, so much has happened and so much has changed,” she says, in part referring to raising her four daughters (who appear as an army of brunette, designer-clad mini-me’s), the launching of her husband’s real estate brokerage The Agency, and lots of on-screen catfights.

“I get embarrassed to say it's a really difficult job,” she admits. “But nobody would ever imagine how challenging it is. It's extremely anxiety provoking. It’s time consuming. It’s a year round job, which people don't realize.” Believe it or not, she does view the show as “work” and not an endless stream of pampering and parties. When Kyle was first starting out in the reality world, she’d get asked why she wanted to open her life to the public. “I don’t know, why do I care?” she thought. “I don’t have skeletons. I’ve been acting my whole life, what’s the difference?” A quick learning curve proved that notion to be naive. “No, this is a completely different situation. People making up lies about you, people attacking you, people coming at you. You have to be so incredibly strong, which all four of my daughters are, incredibly strong and incredibly confident.”

13 years thrown to the wolves has certainly generated a thick skin, but Kyle is the first to admit she’s not immune to the constant inundation of cyber-hatred. “Everything I post turns into something,” she says, referring to a recent bikini photo in which a slew of her four million Instagram followers debated whether she’d gotten a tummy tuck. Teddi Mellancamp, a former RHOBH castmate, suggested that Kyle prove them wrong by showing she doesn’t have the scar on her stomach. “Am I getting to that point where I have to pull my underwear down that low for a bunch

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of strangers?!” she exclaims. This, in part, is what Kyle means when she refers to the beast. “Especially in reality television, they don't want to give you credit for being an intelligent person, who is actually a decent human and has their act together. They assume the worst of the worst.”

Though by now, she’s a pro, and has an inspiring talent for letting thousands of malicious comments roll like water off her back. “Although, yesterday I think I told someone to go f*** themselves.” It was in response to a nasty comment made on her daughter’s birthday, and though Kyle knows she needn’t prove her family’s worth to irrelevant internet trolls, she says matter-of-factly, “Yeah, you’re not coming for my daughter.”

This conversation comes at an interesting time, as Season 12 of RHOBH was riddled with intensity over a falling out between Kyle and her older sister Kathy Hilton (mom to a certain Paris). “This past season was one of my most difficult and oddly, oddly, it was, because it shouldn't have been.” A few moments that seemed like nothing, as predicted, blew up on screen, evoking charged reactions from both the housewives and their audience, who are hard-pressed to criticize. Kyle chooses to take these moments as introspective learning lessons. “When I do something with my actions…even if I know the whole story, and I know I'm a good person and it came off wrong, I still choose to learn.” She tells me that she’s always seeking to view the show

as the audience sees it, a noble feat considering “reality television” certainly leans heavily towards the latter.

With credit to her longevity on the show, Kyle constantly walks the tightrope between staying true to herself and embellishing to provide jaw-dropping entertainment, another notable facet of the so-called beast. “In reality television, you're put in situations that push you and are challenging, and there's a fine balance of being yourself, but also being good television,” she says. “You may think something and want to keep it to yourself, but in reality television, you wouldn't do that. You have to speak up and say something that you may normally not, and that can obviously create a lot of problems.”

This drama is what keeps loyal RHOBH fans coming back season after season, though Kyle is deeply aware of how her persona is being spun by the show. “It's not lost on me that there are a lot of ridiculous people on reality television, and that's why they're on reality television,” she says. “I can honestly say, and not feel embarrassed about it, that I'm not one of those people.” Comedians have told her she’s the hardest housewife to impersonate because she’s “normal,” not a caricature. In spite of her moments of doubt about a future on the show, expressing that she sometimes shakes her head at being a part of “all this,” she’s also quick to express her gratitude. “It’s brought a lot of great things to my life. A lot of great things.”

“This off-camera Kyle is acutely self-aware, an avid reader, an introvert. She’s passionate about self development, she’s a mother of four. And she’s got a voice.”

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It’s in these candid instances where Kyle’s strong sense of self comes through. She’ll readily denounce her own behavior in earlier seasons, admitting, “I don't know why I handled it like that, I wouldn't have handled it like that in my personal life. Those are the moments that I regret.” Although it’s a show designed to provide shocking entertainment, and Kyle understands the image that comes with that, she says, “We can all learn and grow from it. I certainly have.”

Subtracting the show’s opulence and unrealistic melodrama, you’ll realize that Kyle is truly a full-time mom, with an expensive set of hobbies. Her two eldest daughters, Farrah and Alexia, are following in their mother’s footsteps with the recently debuted Netflix reality series Buying Beverly Hills, which zooms in on Mauricio’s real estate brokerage The Agency. “I was very

time during shooting. And some tears,” she says. “But they’re so much smarter than me, my girls, and they are so much more sure of who they are.”

I ask Kyle how she navigated raising a squad of four impressionable young daughters under the constant press and scrutiny. “Keeping your everyday normal life is #1. We do normal things like normal people,” she replies. “Having it be a constant conversation how fortunate we are, and how important it is to think of others who aren’t.” It sounds cliché, she adds, but it’s significant. Giving back has always been a priority in the Richards-Umanksy family— every year, Kyle and Mauricio sponsor a family at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where they are listed as a “First Family” for donating $100,000 or more. “There would be things on their list like paper for school, socks, pencils. And I really wanted my kids to see that, because we live in a town where people take all that for granted.”

against it,” says Kyle, admitting that her “mama bear” instincts made her extremely nervous about the project. Since the show’s confirmation, she’s been coaching her daughters on how to approach life in front of the camera, with advice she learned the hard way—namely, navigating tricky confrontations and staying true to herself.

“It was a constant conversation the entire

Two main reasons denote Children’s Hospital LA as Kyle’s number one charity. “First of all, as a mom of four, I can't even imagine going through what some of these parents go through,” especially with no financial help, she adds. “So for me, it’s a no brainer.” Reason two, Mauricio was born with neutropenia, a disease causing an abnormally low white blood cell count, and spent most of his childhood in and out of hospitals. It’s a cause near and dear to her heart, as is donating to breast cancer research, as her mother devastatingly lost that battle 21 years ago.

“‘I'm very grateful that I'm still in this business and able to actually do it all: act, produce, and do reality television.’”

While giving back should generally be a private matter, Kyle admits, it’s critical to her that some aspect of RHOBH revolves around bringing awareness to causes in need. “It feels so vapid to just have these parties, and we’re here to ‘Everybody get drunk and fight!’” She laughs. “If I’m going to be spending the amount of money I’ve spent on these parties, it has to be for something that’s important to me.”

What’s next on Kyle’s radar, you may wonder? If, god forbid, the soulsatisfying drama of Real Housewives were to end? As a strong personality who already holds the title for longestrunning Beverly Hills castmate, owns a clothing line, has produced a show, written a book, and appeared in movies since the age of five, Kyle continues to outdo herself. She’s currently producing a one-hour scripted television drama, similar to her previous show American Woman, while another upcoming project is inspired by real life experiences growing up in LA in the 80s. How about a movie, I ask? One day. She has ideas, and a team she wants to do it with, but that’s the most we’ll get for now.

If it weren’t for the incredible legacy of the Housewives, Kyle muses she’d be a full time actress. “That’s my first love,”

she says. Remember Little House on the Prairie? A five-year-old Kyle debuted her acting career as little Alicia Edwards, pigtail braids and all. A few years later, she played Lindsey Wallace in the 1978 hit horror movie Halloween—you may have caught her return to the big screen 44 years later in the 2022 series finale Halloween Ends. “When I'm acting and doing my movies and television, I get a lot more respect,” she says, in hopes of returning more seriously to those lanes. She credits her tumultuous path in the entertainment industry to her mom, Kathleen, for what she started all those years ago. “Sometimes I'll open the mail, and I'll see a residual check from a TV show I did when I was five, and I'll be like, ‘Oh, thanks mom!’” She laughs. “The amount of money is so little, but it’s significant to me because of the meaning behind it.”

In very Kyle fashion—not reality show Kyle, but the authentic one—she ends on a note of gratitude. “I'm very grateful that I'm still in this business and able to actually do it all: act, produce, and do reality television.” If I’ve gathered anything from a 30 minute conversation with the not-so-housewife, it’s that she’s astutely discerning, charming, introspective, and warm…and above all, one thing. Real. *

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THE SWEET life

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VILLA D’ESTE ON LAKE COMO MAKES EVERY DAY FEEL LIKE A SPECIAL OCCASION THERE’S

NO PLACE LIKE Como

SB LIFE & STYLE travel

Our car pulls onto the lush, tree-lined drive leading to Villa d’Este and I catch my first glimpse of a glittering Lake Como to my right and a positively dreamy estate to my left. I already know it will be a herculean task to pry me away at the end of our stay.

When my husband and I were picked up at Milan Malpensa Airport just an hour before, we wondered if our final destination would live up to its sterling reputation. Looking back, it’s funny that this thought even crossed our minds, considering the spell the famed hotel promptly put us under the moment its gates opened for us.

We enter the resplendent lobby and its dazzling gilded antique furnishings, sparkling chandeliers, and grand marble staircases exude opulence from a bygone era. I picture the legendary soirées that have taken place over the past 150 years and imagine Elizabeth Taylor and Frank

Sinatra strolling through, as both did as guests decades ago. The sheer amount of history these grounds contain is impressive.

The 25-acre property set on Lake Como’s southwestern shore originally came to life in 1568 as the summer residence of Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio. It remained for several centuries in well-to-do private hands—including those of Caroline of Brunswick, the estranged wife of King George IV. Villa d’Este officially opened as a luxury hotel in 1873.

We check into our sumptuous junior suite where we don’t even have to choose between a garden or lake view—both are a stone’s throw from our private balcony. Yet before we can fully take in the view, our eyes catch on the lustrous brocade fabrics and the marble bathroom that punctuate our gorgeous Renaissance-style retreat.

“Villa d’Este has achieved the seemingly impossible and has sailed into modernity while flawlessly maintaining its classic charm and centuries-old grandeur.”

Villa d’Este has perfected the fine art of leisure. Between my indulgent massage at the Beauty Center, our daily dips in the lake—and the famous floating swimming pool gracefully sitting on top of it, and sunset strolls amongst meticulously maintained English-style gardens, blissed out takes on a whole new meaning. But, if you’re looking to raise your heart rate, you’re also in the right place. Villa D’Este offers a myriad of sporting activities, from golf and biking to tennis and hiking.

The terrace of La Veranda, the hotel’s signature restaurant, is perched on the edge of the lake. On our second day at the hotel, we lunch “pieds dans l’eau” while a soft October sun glistens on the water. Fresh artichokes cooked two ways, al dente tagliolini with shaved white truffles, and a delicate lobster wellington are brought to our table at a leisurely pace as we gaze at the boats idly making their way across the lake. Italian wine pairings accentuate each course, bringing each bite to life.

Villa d’Este has achieved the seemingly impossible and has sailed into modernity while flawlessly maintaining its classic charm and centuries-old grandeur. A prime example of this is the polished wooden boat that happens to be all-electric, which whisks us along the lake after lunch with only the sound of the water splashing against the hull.

Every day feels like a special occasion here. Mornings begin with a breakfast spread fit for a queen at La Veranda and effortlessly lead to afternoons on the terrace, Aperol spritz in hand, where the warm breeze picks up the ambrosial scent of full blooms and carries it across the way.

Checking into Villa d’Este can work wonders on both body and soul and relax even the most world-weary among us. For as polished and historic as this property is, I’ve never felt more comfortable amongst such lovely, beautiful things. This wholehearted welcome is due entirely to the hospitality at Villa d’Este, where the staff has made each guest feel like royalty since the nineteenth century. One’s every need is anticipated before you even anticipate them yourself. It doesn’t get better than this. *

WHAT to PACK

MUTHA BODY OIL

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The 14 hour flight to Italy will leave your skin thirsty—quench it with powerfully moisturizing rosehip and botanic seed oil. An extra luxurious touch fit for the likes of Villa d’Este’s resident royalty. mutha.com

ANCIENT GREEK SANDALS WHITNEY FOOTBED SANDAL

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Handmade in Greece, these sunny satin-finish slides are crafted from natural leather and are guaranteed to age to perfection, much like the Italian wine pairings you’ll indulge in. ancient-greek-sandals.com

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WELL-BEING that LASTS

SENSEI LANAI ENCOURAGES SUSTAINABLE WELLNESS TRANSFORMATIONS THROUGH MOVEMENT, NOURISHMENT, AND REST

Finally, an effective wellness retreat. I’ve tried dozens over the years, and up until a few months ago, I was under the impression that true holistic “wellness” was in fact a myth. For my most recent birthday, I treated myself to an experience at Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort, on the Hawaiian island of Lana’i. This retreat stuck, leaving me transformed in a sustainable way, unlike ever before.

The island, reminiscent of Sedona—with pines, red dirt, and horse pastures— holds the jungly, sculpture-adorned resort at its center. Light, bright, and peaceful interiors with textured walls create a serene environment. But the real beauty of this place is what it changes inside of you—the mindset shifts that take place throughout the week.

Sensei’s Guided Wellness Experience package begins with a consultation with your very own “sensei.” Kari has a gift; her ability to create a safe space of openness has me spilling my heart out to a woman I’ve just met. I unpack my deepest insecurities and challenges, as she makes me feel completely at ease. She's patient, humble, and free of judgment. I get the sense she genuinely wants to help me and has the skillset to do so. After all, Kari has trained Olympians. We speak for an hour, then she measures my body composition—a breakdown of fat, muscle, water—and I undergo a series of strength and flexibility assessments. Although my muscle mass is high, she explains that muscle doesn’t equate to strength (read: I can barely do a push-up), and that’s something to address later in my fitness one-onone. Based on my goals, I’m recommended specific habits that will take me into a healthful old age. Her suggestions are easily implementable: movement snacks

instead of stress eating, wrap up work at least half an hour before bed, claim your time or someone else will. “Giving ourselves permission to take care of ourselves in the areas of movement, nourishment, and rest is the foundation for completely changing the outcome of our well-being,” she explains. I head to my spa treatment feeling hopeful.

I arrive at the spa hale—a freestanding treatment room—for a Thermal Body Mapping massage, where I don’t even have to fill out a form indicating areas that need attention. They figure it out themselves by scanning my body with proprietary thermal body mapping technology. Post treatment, I relax in the 1,000 square foot private spa with its own infrared sauna, steam shower, ofuro tub, lounge area, hot and cold pools, and giant outdoor rain shower that feels like getting caught in a warm tropical downpour. I’m ready to move in.

During my nutrition one-on-one, Danielle debunks all the information I’ve been fed via a constant stream of wellness articles and posts. The noise of the outside world, and the fad diets it propagates, quiets; this is a safe, calm space to rebuild intentions and habits. We cover pairing macronutrients, eating slowly, fueling for exercise, and drinking half your body weight in ounces of water. Her advice is all pertinent to me and my body—no generic tricks or quotes here. My allor-nothing mindset seeps away. “I feel your relationship with food will change because you'll feel nourished, not stressed,” Danielle predicts.

The following days are filled with one-on-one sessions focused on fitness and mindset, interspersed with horseback

riding, yoga, a hike to Koloiki Ridge, nourishing meals at the on-property restaurant Sensei by Nobu, and dips in the onsen garden that’s appointed with eight hot tubs, open 24/7. Making healthy choices is easy at Sensei, yet their teachings take into account that lives are not lived at wellness retreats. For example, a dinner of jalapeño yellowtail and miso cod at Sensei by Nobu is accompanied by alcohol and dessert, because in the real world, there are cocktails and sweets (though not as delicious as their matcha ice cream).

Mid-morning, I meet with Lydia for my Mindset with Biomarkers session. I explain the habits I default to when stressed and she asks about my sleep—whether I’m getting enough rest, my schedule, etc. Next, she teaches me about heartrate variability and leads me through breathing techniques that help drop back into the parasympathetic nervous system—a safe and relaxed optimal state. All while a heartrate monitor is attached to my earlobe because everything here is science backed. It’s amazing to watch the results on a screen; the breathing exercises working in real time, right before my eyes. Lydia reminds me that even when I can't change my external environment, I can change my internal environment. I leave with an invaluable tool I can inject into any situation to bring about a state of calm, for myself and by myself.

I’m pretty knowledgeable when it comes to wellness, yet I’m dumbfounded by what I’m learning. One-on-one sessions in an environment that’s relaxing—rather than clinical or woo woo—led by compassionate and nonjudgmental experts, proved to be the missing puzzle piece to aligning my actions with my goals.

During the Fitness session, Austin (who joined Sensei from Google) explains that moving daily creates compound interest. He leads me through exercises and stretches that

“One-on-one sessions in an environment that’s RELAXING—rather than clinical or woo woo—led by COMPASSIONATE and NONJUDGMENTAL experts, proved to be the missing puzzle piece to aligning my actions with my goals.”

align with the desired outcome I identified in my initial consultation. The moves are easy to remember to, most importantly, duplicate at home. He wraps up the session with book and hamburger recommendations, because balance.

Later in the evening, in my restorative yoga class, I catch myself feeling better than I’ve felt in months. Maybe even years. I melt into the bolster as instructor Arielle’s smiling voice reminds me to “Notice what you’re holding on to and need to release; maybe it’s in your shoulders, or in your mind. Our thoughts create our reality.” I realize I need a separate note tab— one for article notes, and one for wise advice I’d like to refer back to post-retreat. It’s as if there’s truth serum in the water there; the private sessions and the clarity they provide bring what I need to do to the forefront of my thoughts. The stretching, releasing, and restoring feels way better than scrolling. I make a note to create more space in my schedule for real relaxing. Long after I leave the studio, Arielle's voice

echoes in my mind, it carries even after the sound of birds and fragrant flowers outside the studio have faded into a memory: our thoughts create our reality.

I find myself doing a lot of reflecting on birthdays, with little action to show thereafter. Yet this year is different. My last morning at Sensei Lanai I have a “My Plan" session with Kari. She compiles a comprehensive guide to growth, based on science, my life, data and the deeply pertinent experiences at Sensei. It takes into account that I am not returning home to 1,000 square foot spa treatment rooms, a Nobu restaurant just steps away, and unlimited leisure time. We go over gracefully letting go of what no longer serves me, to make space for my highest self. She reminds me that as humans, we are meant to evolve. I leave feeling calm and like the tools I learned have become an innate part of me—motivation and restrictions unnecessary. Today, I naturally make decisions aligned with my vision for myself. I feel, reborn. *

over a river and behind a waterfall

HIDDEN GEMS OF ICELAND'S SOUTH COAST

WRITTEN & PHOTOGRAPHED BY Silas Fallstich

As I rage through a glaciated river at 45 km/hr I only have one thing on my mind: “catch him." I’m playing real-life Mario Kart, in a Game of Thrones scene, our group of seven buggies stretched across my rearview mirror. We are traversing the Pórsmörk nature reserve. Our guide, Magnus, is outpacing me. He wears soaked sneakers, no safety equipment and a friendly sense of superiority. An hour prior, he ushered our group into the Hidden Valley of Thor to a secluded and serene waterfall. Welcome to Iceland and Viking Mario Kart, cliché buggy tour this is not.

I arrived in Iceland less than 36 hours ago. In that time I learned two new horse gaits, flew in an electric airplane, visited four of the country's 7,000 waterfalls, and consumed more variations of goose than I knew existed.

Hotel Rangá, a countryside hotel in South Iceland, is our home base. Our itinerary calls for long days full of tours and short nights commencing with hours spent sharing travel stories over too many Icelandic Sours. Evening nightcaps include visits to the on-property observatory and geothermal soaks, which are famed to stop the aging process.

We find ourselves about 90 minutes from Reykjavík in cozy timber lodgings. Keeping with the log-cabin style, the 51 room hotel offers cozy standard rooms to robust themed master suites. The property was renovated in 2003 solely to accommodate Hrammur, the hotel's oversized stuffed polar bear. It's equal parts whimsical, comfortable, and homely. Formerly a horse farm, the resort boasts a nearly 5-star travel rating. It also has achieved the rare

status of both celebrity and local appeal. The former of which might impress you more; Justin Bieber stayed in room 10, and I have it on good authority that his body has been checked out but his spirit remains.

Mornings begin with a traditional Icelandic breakfast, cod liver oil shots included, then we join our South Coast Adventure guide for the day's excursions. Hotel Rangá offers several tours: horseback rides along black sand beaches, helicopter flights, buggy tours, and sailing. While all of these are fantastic options we begin with a mellow trot of a horse tour.

I’m learning about one of the most unique horse breeds on Earth. It possesses the usual gait of any other horse (the walk, trot, and canter), plus two unique gaits: the tölt and the skeið. The skeið is a fast or flying gait while the tölt is a fluid stable gait. The Icelandic horse was brought to the island by Vikings around the 9th century and has never been crossbred. If a horse goes abroad it isn’t allowed to re-enter the country. If the lesson doesn’t stimulate you, their impressive 80’s rocker-esq manes will. And they are as social as an extrovert newly released from quarantine. After a quick tutorial on what it takes to work on an Icelandic horse farm, we head for Soljandfoss, one of many picturesque waterfalls.

We arrive on a gray evening, yet are collectively optimistic for a colorful sunset. The uphill walk behind the waterfall is a short, wet drudge. My camera gear is soaked. For the first time in a long time, I don't care. The sun is sparkling behind the most majestic waterfall I’ve ever visited. For some odd reason, I expected this moment

Hotel Ranga
“Icelandic sagas tell the stories of the first settlers, and miraculously they are not pieces of far off folklore but of everyday modern Icelandic life.”

to taste salty, my mind is left pondering this thought as a newly married Indian couple waltz across my frame. Five foss down 6,995 to go.

Back at Hotel Rangá the level of hospitality reaches new highs; our soaked crew is offered steaming cups of tea and a complimentary boot-drying service. Dinner at Rangá Restaurant features Nordic cuisine rooted in fresh and local produce. The Wild Mushroom Soup is a daily group staple and the Crispy Arctic Char with potato salad and green apple caviar is an instant favorite. The intimate setting is defined by full-length windows offering panoramic views of the Rangá River and surrounding countryside.

Dry boots laced, in the morning we depart for another day of activity. I’ve jumped feet first into a rettir, an annual tradition of rounding up and sorting all the sheep that have been free-grazing throughout the summer. Docile isn’t the first word that comes to mind.

I’m tentative at first, but after watching several children half my size manhandle animals three times their weight I gird myself. As I reach out and take hold of a reasonably sized ram horn I realize there is no turning back. Some human instinct I didn’t know was in me takes over, I straddle the beast bareback, secure the other horn, and squeeze my thighs tightly. This tactile strategy is 100% foreign but seems to be working. I check the ear tag and shout loudly “DO YOU KNOW WHERE J34 GOES?” I’m ignored, after a second time of asking, a man gestures with a small show of enthusiasm towards a pen. I half drag, half walk the animal across the holding pen to its farmer. He's not the least bit grateful as he places the sheep in his paddock and gives me a look that says “big deal, grab another.” This centuries-old tradition seemed like a marathon conquest to me. To Icelanders it’s just another Sunday in September. It doesn’t take long and I’m hooked, plucking sheep out of every corner of the pen, sweating, overly eager, and joyous. I am a gladiator conquering a horde of Titans, yet happily bested by every child tall enough to ride a roller coaster.

On our last day, the call I’d been hoping for comes. The geothermal tub, which sits 10 steps from my back door, is available. As I settle into the 100

degree waters I feel the years rolling back. Without considering the consequences, I jump from the pool and sprint to the Rangá River. Envisioning a graceful penguin dive, I gingerly wade into the waist-deep chilly water and flop in face first like a fish out-ofwater. Instantly, I realize the cold plunge should have been a daily occurrence.

Retreating back to the warm sanctuary, I stay put. A light rain drizzles down as I watch fog play cat and mouse with the snow laced Eyjafjallajökull glacier-volcano on the not so distant horizon. Our departure is only an hour away and the highlight of my Icelandic experience is the serenity and peace of a warm pool on a still morning. I pat myself dry and pack the last of my suitcase. Our goodbye takes longer than expected, but with Hotel Rangá in our rearview we are left with warm memories, captivated minds, and hearts hoping for a not-so-distant return.

Iceland needs no salesman. Nearly 7,000 waterfalls, 180,000 thoroughbred rockstar horses, a sheep herd that has remained genetically unchanged for over 1,000 years, and geothermal fountains of youth in most backyards. I think the hardest part about visiting Iceland is answering the age-old question of when will I go and what will I do.

Many people travel to Iceland with a single desire–see the Northern Lights, watch a volcano erupt, or capture a viral post. If you ask a local there’s something far deeper and more meaningful at the heart of visiting this island. Icelandic sagas tell the stories of the first settlers, and miraculously they are not pieces of far off folklore but of everyday modern Icelandic life. The hospitality-focused staff at Hotel Rangá are dedicated to ensuring your visit includes plenty of heart palpitating action-forward tours. Through their inclusive and friendly demeanor they will welcome you, if only for a few days, into their tradition enriched and delightfully full lives.

If I can offer you one piece of advice–set your purpose before you depart but be open to experiences that reach deeper into your sense of being than any isolated moment could ever hope to achieve. Do that and I promise there will be fire and ice around every corner, cinema-worthy vistas, and some of the friendliest people you will ever encounter. *

SNOWED in

CHATEAU DU SUREAU OFFERS MUCH MORE THAN LUXURIOUS AND COZY RESPITE WHILE VISITING YOSEMITE

Snowflakes fall faster and heavier, clouding my view of El Capitan. I gaze up in awe. Yosemite’s grandiose rocks never fail to take my breath away, and blanketed in snow they are even more majestic. We tromp through the snow, traversing meadows and bridges, as our private tour guide, Shon with Discover Yosemite, regales us with history of the land, how the rocks formed, and tales of John Muir. His demeanor and delivery are fun and he tailors the tour to what we want to see while taking us to lesser known vantage points of Yosemite’s monuments. Not once are we jostling for the perfect photo. My

fascination and appreciation for the scenery grows with each story about the geology and the Native Americans that inhabited the land.

We hop back in the Cadillac Escalade (stocked with snacks) to the next stop. Half way there Shon exclaims, “Look a bear! Otto a bear!” I scramble to take a video as a black bear ambles along the road and retreats into the trees. Bear: check. Our Yosemite visit is complete. After one last look at Bridalveil Falls encrusted with frazil ice, we exit the park through Wowona Tunnel, the entrance dripping in icicles.

While the stories of John Muir are inspiring, the plummeting temperature has us eager to cozy up by the fireplace at our hotel, Chateau du Sureau in Oakhurst. The sun sets as Shon returns us to its palatial emerald gates. The property is a Francophile’s dream–it’s exactly how I’d imagine a chateau in the French countryside. We thaw by the fireplace in the grand salon, which is outfitted with a piano, old books, and a chess board.

At 7 p.m., we move from one fireplace to another, to dine fireside at Eldeberry House restaurant, helmed by Culinary Director Chris Flint. The beautifully plated five-course menu is accompanied by organic wines from the owner’s Los Olivos winery, Coquelicot.

An old fashioned key opens our room, and within minutes we fall asleep in the canopy bed to the sound of our crackling fireplace. At breakfast the next morning, berries and croissants prelude fluffy Belgian waffles with scrambled eggs and bacon. The perfect start to a lazy day. Fellow guest still in slippers clearly have the same idea.

We stroll around the property, admiring the verdant landscape and the pool that in warmer weather would be a main attraction. I take a bath in the soaking tub with views of pines and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The property is comfortable and traditional, yet the courteous staff leave nothing to be desired. They anticipate and accommodate every need, from lens cloths, to plates when we return with takeout, to a late, late checkout. Originally booked as a place to rest our heads between days in Yosemite, Chateau du Sureau proved to be a destination on its own. *

WHAT to PACK

ASPENX PRADA WOMEN’S NYLON MAP DOWN JACKET

$3,350

ASPENX’s latest 7-piece Prada collaboration features the work of atelier Paula Crown, whose reconfiguration of Aspen Snowmass’ trail maps lends a whimsical print to your cold-weather adventures. Crafted with goose down, this puffer thermoregulates heat, blending ultimate luxury with nature. aspenx.com

ASPENX VUARNET ICE ROUND SUNGLASSES

$300

No national park should be conquered without proper eyewear, and these ASPENX Vuarnet glacier-inspired shades are as timeless as they are effective. Near 100% UV and blue lightblocking lenses and removable side shields offer customizable style and supreme comfort. aspenx.com

MOON BOOT ICON BLACK FAUX-FUR BOOTS

$310

Arctic polar bear plush meets high-performance technology. Inspired by 1969 Space Race astronaut gear, these fur-lined, water-repellent, suction tread sole boots are fit for a lunar landing…or, at the very least, hikes to Mirror Lake. moonboot.com

111 SKIN CELESTIAL BLACK DIAMOND CREAM

$995

Adventurous days spent braving the elements can be especially harsh on skin. This intensive moisturizing cocktail for your face uses a powerful antioxidant NAC complex to resurrect dry skin, while protecting from the environment.

111skin.com

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“The property is COMFORTABLE and TRADITIONAL, yet the courteous staff leave NOTHING to be DESIRED”

BRUNCH

Wake up on the right side of the bed with Hotel Californian’s Goat Tree brunch. With pastries baked fresh daily and menu options like the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes and Shakshuka, the only trouble you’ll find here is choosing what to order.

@hotelcalifornian STAY

Settle into a beachfront suite at Rosewood Miramar Beach. Revel in the endless amenities including numerous restaurants and a pool, and shop the afternoon away at on-property boutiques such as Goop, The Webster, and Brunello Cucinelli.

@rosewoodmiramarbeach

in Santa Barbara

SPA

DAY 1 48 HOURS DAY 2

Stay close to home and escape to tranquility at Rosewood Miramar Beach’s Sense Spa For an experience unique to the property, try the Montecito Sage Purification–a healing journey using indigenous sage, pine and juniper to rejuvenate the skin and body and reconnect with the Earth.

@rosewoodmiramarbeach

DINNER

Italy meets Coastal California at Montecito’s Bettina. While pleasing your taste buds with a fresh out of the wood fire oven pizza, sip on a signature cocktail like the Alpine Gimlet or Night in Martinique. Seal the deal with a slice of the olive oil cake with thyme and orange zest.

@bettinapizzeria

HIKE

Start the day between the land and sea at the top of the Gaviota Wind Caves. Just 2.5 miles roundtrip, this hike offers extensive views of the Pacific Ocean and journeys through nature-created caves. Vibrant yellow flowers line the path as a sign that spring has arrived.

COFFEE

Merci Montecito is the perfect place to refuel with a wide selection of coffees and pastries. Looking for something a little heartier? This pink Parisian-inspired cafe offers lunch options like delicious quinoa tabouleh and a jambonbeurre sandwich.

@mercimontecito

GARDEN

Experience all your landscape dreams come true at Plant Gallery. The Montecito nursery is home to a variety of indoor and outdoor plants and floral arrangements. While you’re there, explore the various woven baskets, ceramic pots, and fountains. They deliver too!

@gazebogardensmontecito

DRINKS

Tucked next to the Granada Theatre, The Good Lion cocktail bar keeps things interesting with a rotating menu reflecting the in-season fruits, herbs, and spices. Inspired by Santa Barbara’s role as the “American Rivera,” the venue’s ambience features warm tones and Spanish style influence.

@thegoodlionbar

DINNER

Sit beneath the string lights and vines on Sama Sama’s back patio for a SoutheastAsian influenced dinner. Share plates with friends for a little taste of everything. While one of their signature cocktails may be called Monkey Business, this Santa Barbara spot is not playing around.

@samasamakitchen

disrupting the landscape

plantgallerysb.com

formerly gazebo gardens