Sitting on nearly five acres of lavish gardens, The Steward, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel by Marriott, managed by Twenty Four Seven Hotels, has officially opened in Santa Barbara, California.
Originally purchased in the late 1860s by pioneer horticulturist Joseph Sexton, the land became home to his family’s estate, known as “The Sexton House,” along with one of the area’s first nurseries. Today, the Sexton House serves as a historical landmark in Santa Barbara giving guests the opportunity to explore many of his signature trees and plants that still grace the grounds. The Steward finds inspiration in Sexton’s desire to grow and nurture the land and emphasizes a passion for bringing the grounds to life with the hotel being a complementary part of the natural surroundings. With deep roots within the Santa Barbara community, The Steward promises to carry on Sexton’s work as a caretaker of the land, nourishing and growing his original nursery while empowering travelers to do the same.
Guests can find a refreshing haven within the refined, yet playful style, focusing on balancing California’s innate elements and vibrant open spaces with a Southern European farmhouse flair. Curated and designed in partnership with Los Angeles-based firm, SANDdesign, The Steward’s natural surroundings make its way throughout the property, both inside and out. The boutique hotel’s suites are reminiscent of historical, residential estate architecture combined with updated, modern touches and distinctive details including water-colored pictures of The Sexton House. Throughout the property, each detail is infused with care — from custom local artwork, a lobby library, an outdoor dining area to a cozy bar, all with a nature-driven aesthetic. With the intent to evoke a “Secret Garden” feel, guests are surrounded by many of Sexton’s original trees and unique plantings, with even the newer elements drawing inspiration from his gardens, such as pampas grass, birds-of-paradise, and palm and citrus trees. As visitors make their way through the garden, they will come upon whimsical touches from a wooden piano to intimate seating areas. The nature-inspired design features a palette of environmental tones with touches of citrus and deep foliage green, as well as interspersed accents of flora and hummingbirds.
Continuing to embrace the destination and the property’s commitment to sustainability, the hotel’s signature restaurant, Terra, meaning “of the earth,” incorporates locally-sourced ingredients that showcase and highlight the Central Coast’s agriculture through its connections with local farms and purveyors. In the kitchen, Executive Chef Augusto Caudillo finds inspiration in his rich connection to the community, having grown up in Goleta, Calif., combined with his passion to bring people together through food. His seasonally-driven menus draw inspiration from California and Mediterranean fare, and offer approachable, produce-driven dishes that are both aesthetically pleasing and nourishing.
While bringing The Steward to life, the team discovered a journal on-property from the 1930s that features one of the first recorded recipes for avocado toast. Guests will be able to try the original recipe featured on Terra’s menu. Additional thoughtful touches throughout the menu include herbs from the property’s very own gardens, botanical blooming tea service and organic mocktails in partnership with DrinkTilden for upscale sips sans alcohol. Terra’s pre-packed picnic kit will allow guests to dine al fresco amidst the whimsical grounds or while exploring the destination. A few standout dishes Caudillo has created for Terra include Pampas Grass King Avocado Toast, Santa Barbara Hope Ranch Mussels, Organic Chinook Salmon and Hummingbird Cake.
Programming and Amenities
- Sustainability: Guests are encouraged to participate in The Steward’s green programming with refillable water bottles and water stations throughout the property, along with informational talks with local eco-friendly groups and inspiring quotes placed throughout the property promoting sustainability.
- The Barn: Tucked away amongst the property’s foliage, the historic barn on property will host a nature-inspired modern fitness area, complete with a yoga lawn and picnic area located right outside.
- Events: From elegant and intimate weddings or bridal showers to inspiring team-building retreats or family reunions, The Steward offers stunning bright and inviting venues, including The Sexton House and Garden House reception space and breakfast room, encouraging celebration throughout the lush grounds.
- Destination Offerings: With a commitment to supporting its local Goleta community, guests can enjoy destination programming and outings through The Steward’s local partners. Guests will find locally-grown coffee in-room provided by FRINJ Coffee and have the option to explore exclusive tours of the FRINJ farm for an interactive experience. Additional local partners include: 805 Bees, Cutlers Distillery, Far West Tea, Gallup Farms, Gleason Family Vineyards, Good Land Organics, Jessica Foster Confections, Ocean Ranch Organics and Santa Barbara Gift Basket.
- Outdoor Pool and Wellness: The Steward invites guests to immerse themselves in nature with a variety of outdoor experiences, including smart yoga mats to find open-air zen and a peaceful pool area complete with nature-inspired cabanas and surrounding lush landscape for a hidden and refreshing respite with a cocktail delivered by the property’s mini bar cart.
- Horticultural Hour: Guests are invited to participate in weekly inspired seminars, deemed Horticulture Hour, led by the property’s Horticulture team in the garden to enjoy plant-based appetizers specially curated by Chef Caudillo and learn about a range of topics — from how to grow your own avocados to how to be a steward.
- Gathering Moments: The Steward offers a plethora of hidden moments throughout the grounds including artistic benches scattered among the gardens, lawn games featuring bocce, croquet and jenga, complimentary bikes for exploring to wine tastings or afternoon tea on the Sexton House’s porch to learn more on the history of the area and the Sexton family.