I’ve finally returned home after an amazing week-long California adventure in the 2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe. The car is an amazing and beautiful combination of luxury, engineering, performance and brute strength. I spent a week with the car and put 1,000 miles on it in all types of driving conditions.
Day one was the drive from Los Angeles, almost straight through to San Francisco. We left later than expected, around 9 AM on Saturday and headed up PCH. After losing the traffic north of Trancas, I really began to see what the car could do. With 550 HP, an eight-speed QuickShift transmission and an active differential, the raw power is controllable. Power comes from a 5.0 liter supercharged V8 with a frightening growl that comes from a switchable active exhaust. With the active exhaust engaged, the growl and kick-down rat-a-tat-tat is downright frightening. And awesome. More like a track car than a luxury car. After a day of driving, around 7 PM, we finally pulled into the grand motorcourt of the InterContinental Mark Hopkins, atop Nob Hill.
The iconic hotel, a San Francisco landmark since opening in 1926, retains its status as the city’s best. Our Golden Gate Bridge view room was stylish and contemporary, with sweeping views of the city below. We stayed over Saturday night and then headed up to the Top of the Mark in the morning for their legendary Sunday champagne brunch.
After leaving the InterContinental, we cruised around San Francisco and drove across the Golden Gate Bridge a few times. We then set the Jag navigation to 1 Miramontes Point Road to head to The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay. This beautiful luxury hotel sits on a cliff, overlooking the Pacific below about 45 minutes south of San Francisco. Guestrooms, restaurants and hotel’s amazing Ocean Lawn all feature postcard views of the ocean. The food at the Ritz-Carlton, regardless of whether it’s from in-room dining, Navio (the hotel’s fine dining restaurant) or served on the terrace or The Conservatory is locally-sourced, sustainable and delicious.
Beyond beautiful accommodations, great views and attentive service, the resort features two championship golf courses, a huge spa and miles of walking (or biking) trails above the ocean. We sipped hot chocolate in front of the firepit as whales surfaced just off the coast.
After Half Moon Bay, we headed south for the 300 mile drive to Belmond El Encanto in Santa Barbara. More than a hotel or a resort, El Encanto was like staying at a private estate, complete with 24 hour room service. We didn’t have a room or suite, we had our own casita, a private mini, free-standing house. No common walls, total silence, peace and privacy.
We enjoyed exploring Santa Barbara and the grounds of this special place. Although it was very difficult to leave the casita, we spent some time in the luxurious spa and swam in the hotel’s heated saline pool, also overlooking the city of Santa Barbara and the ocean beyond. The Belmond El Encanto is known for their amazing, local, innovative menu (and extensive wine list). Chef Leo Andres Ayala does some amazing magic in the kitchen, with some items featuring produce and herbs grown in El Encanto’s own chef’s garden. We had a few great meals, especially enjoying the ones on the hotel’s Terrace.
After a wonderful week on the road, it was time to head home to Los Angeles.