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Mar Monte Hotel: A Coastal Legacy of Luxury and Dreams


In June 1930, the visionary hotelier Frederick A. Bartholomew unveiled his grand plans for a magnificent oceanfront hotel in the picturesque town of Santa Barbara. Brimming with confidence, he proudly proclaimed to the Morning Press, “There will be nothing finer on the coast, and the furnishings will be the best that money can buy.”

To bring his dream to life, Bartholomew enlisted the Los Angeles architectural firm of Walker & Eisen, who crafted a stunning Spanish Colonial Revival design for the new establishment. Initially named the Arlington Inn, the hotel faced local objections due to its appropriation of the beloved old Arlington Hotel’s name, which had been destroyed by the 1925 earthquake. In response to the community’s concerns, the accommodating Fred welcomed suggestions for a new name.

Letters poured in with various proposals, such as Al Viso (At the Viewpoint), El Retiro (The Retreat), and Buena Vista (Beautiful View). However, it was the enchanting name “Vista Mar Monte” that captured the hearts of Santa Barbarans, reflecting the breathtaking view of both the sea and the mountains.

Once the name controversy settled, construction began, and the anticipation among Santa Barbara residents grew. For eight months, they eagerly awaited the completion of the hotel that proudly boasted, “On the sea where Montecito joins Santa Barbara.”

For Frederick A. Bartholomew, this new hotel marked the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Hailing from Grand Forks, North Dakota, where his father, John S. Bartholomew, established a successful business empire, including hotels, Fred followed in his father’s footsteps. Taking over the family’s five-story brick hotel, he renamed it The Frederick and embarked on a mission to provide exceptional service to the travelers of the time.

Fred’s dedication to innovation and customer satisfaction propelled the success of The Frederick. Recognizing the evolving needs of his guests, he eschewed unnecessary frills and focused on delivering quality service. However, Fred’s ambitions reached beyond his current establishment, leading him to explore opportunities for a new hotel.

In 1922, his adventurous spirit took him on a tour of the Southwest and Mexico in search of the perfect location for his next venture. After months of travel, he found himself at the impressive Rosslyn Hotel in Los Angeles, where he served as assistant manager. The Rosslyn Hotel and its Annex, boasting an impressive 1,100 rooms and 800 baths, once stood as one of the largest hotels on the Pacific Coast.

Finally, on June 11, 1931, Frederick A. Bartholomew’s long-cherished dream came true with the grand opening of Vista Mar Monte. Overflowing with pride, he shared, “I have been a hotelman all my life, and I have for several years had my eye on Santa Barbara and the ocean front. To be able to build the hotel of my dreams on a site so ideal has fulfilled an ambition of many years.”

From that moment onward, Vista Mar Monte became a beacon of luxury and hospitality, forever etched into the history of Santa Barbara, a testament to the passion and determination of one remarkable hotelier.

In the spirit of honoring its heritage while embracing a new chapter, the hotel was rebranded as “Mar Monte Hotel.” This updated name seamlessly merged the essence of its past, Vista Mar Monte, with a contemporary touch that resonates with modern travelers.

Today, the Mar Monte Hotel stands as a beacon of timeless elegance and warm hospitality on Santa Barbara’s picturesque oceanfront. Its rich history intertwines with the vibrant tapestry of Santa Barbara’s story, inviting guests from around the world to indulge in its scenic beauty, luxurious amenities, and the enduring legacy of Frederick A. Bartholomew’s dream turned reality.

Porch area with brown furniture and colored pillows overlooking ocean, roadway and beach at Mar Monte Hotel in Santa Barbara, CA

Walk or Ride to Nearby Attractions

From Mar Monte Hotel, in the Unbound Collection by Hyatt

Nearest Airports

  • Santa Barbara Airport: 11 miles
  • Hollywood Burbank Airport: 87 miles
  • Los Angeles International Airport: 95 miles

Nearest Amtrak Train Station

Santa Barbara: 1.5 miles

The train ride to Santa Barbara is  one of America’s most scenic – a coastal route that promises stunning views and landscapes. The Pacific Surfliner connects San Diego and San Luis Obispo, and the Coast Starlight runs from San Diego to Seattle, Washington.


Valet parking is available onsite for $36 for overnight valet and $19 for day valet.


Parrot sitting on tree branch near greenery at Mar Monte Hotel in Santa Barbara, CA

Local Attractions

State Street: 1.5 miles
Funkzone: 1.4 miles
Courthouse: 2.3 miles
Paseo Nuevo: 2 miles
Stearn’s Wharf: 1.5 miles
Granada Theatre: 3 blocks (7-minute walk) / 2.7-mile drive
Montecito: 3.2 miles
Arlington Theatre: 2.8 miles
Santa Barbara Bowl: 2 miles
Lobero Theater: 2 miles
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History: 3. Miles
Santa Barbara Zoo: 0.2 miles

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