On a beautiful, sun-shining, wind-blowing, Santa Barbara day, seven teams gathered at Hotel Californian in the Funk Zone to represent their hotels: Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort, Hotel Californian, Santa Barbara Inn, Hotel Indigo, Hotel Milo, Kimpton Goodland, and Ritz-Carlton Bacara. The stage was set for an afternoon of competitions ranging from bell cart races to blind taste tests.
Enthusiasm and team spirit was not lacking at this event. Each team cheered on their players with foam fingers, pom-poms, and hand-clappers creating enough noise to drown out the DJ playing on the outside lawn of Hotel Californian.
The first event, the bell cart race, surprised teams with its difficulty—members of the Goodland team saying it’s harder than it looks. Hotels went head-to-head weaving their bell carts in and out of palm trees making sure not to drop or damage the luggage on the cart. A few teams lost their lead when they dropped the luggage slowing them down tremendously. Santa Barbara Inn captured the first event win of the day.
After the cart races, teams moved up to Hotel Californian’s balcony—with ocean-views—to take part in the server obstacle race. Two members from each team competed in this event. The first runner filled up three cups of water and placed them on the serving tray and then zig-zagged through the cones and back. The second runner filled up two flutes and traveled quickly through the cones again, careful not to drop the water. Some overconfident teams went too fast through the cones spilling the water causing their team to be disqualified. In a photo-finish, Santa Barbara Inn came in first place for this event.
The third event brought everyone back down to the main lawn for a battle of the taste-buds. Blindfolded, two members from each hotel were spoon-fed a culinary treat curated by the chef from Ritz-Carlton Bacara. The first person to raise their hand after tasting the mystery food had the chance to guess. Many players, except the representative from Hotel Indigo, mistook a caper for an olive. Hotel Californian ultimately had the best sense of taste, beating out second and third place Hilton Santa Barbara and Hotel Indigo.
The afternoon continued with bike building, minute-to-win-it, and talent show competitions. Goodland came out on top for the bike building, Hotel Milo received top honors for minute-to-win-it, and Jose Rios took the crown for Hotel Californian in the talent show. Hotels were also judged for their towel origami creations and cakes which truly showed the creativity of some hotels. Towels were twisted and turned into elephants, swans, and more, and even adorned with googly eyes. Santa Barbara Inn went all out for this competition, building a full diorama for their towel animals and receiving the first place title they deserved. Hotel Milo secured top marks for the cake war.
Hilton Santa Barbara won the Spirit Award in the end, but all teams should be applauded for their energy, effort, and enthusiasm. It truly showcased the essence of hotel hospitality in Santa Barbara. There is no doubt these teams and hopefully more will be back next year for another friendly battle in the Santa Barbara Hotel Olympics.