Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara
- 1260 Channel Drive, Santa Barbara, California, 93108, U.S.A.
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 1983
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Assistant Manager, Four Seasons Hotel London
- Four Seasons Hotel Canary Wharf, London; Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris; Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul; Disneyland Resort Paris; The Pierre, New York (formerly a Four Seasons Hotel); Four Seasons Hotel London(formerly a Four Seasons Hotel); Four Seasons Hotel London
- Solihull, England
- Master of Business, City University, London; Hotel, Catering and Tourism Management, Surrey University, Guildford, England
- English, French and German
“With every hotel we open, we aim to get better,” says Karen Earp, general manager of Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. She ought to know. Over her 26-year career, Earp has seen the launch of 10 hotels and a golf course, including Four Seasons hotels in Istanbul, Paris and London. While she didn’t snip the ribbon in Santa Barbara, the Resort has seen much growth during her tenure – including a USD 305 million historic restoration of the Resort and the Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club.
So, what is it about openings? “The experience is quite unique in that you can shape a hotel in so many terms,” she says. She points to the stone-walled cellar of Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris, which was just sitting there filled with wine racks until Earp pushed the idea that the Hotel needed an intimate corner for events. “It’s not that your input is always agreed with; it’s that you get to be part of creating the vision.”
Growing up in Solihull, England, Earp got the hang of hospitality helping her mother throw dinner parties. She took a Saturday job at a small property, and then a vocational degree in hotels and catering. Far-flung assignments revealed the richness of other cultures, as well as her own: “Living abroad, you learn to see yourself through the eyes of others and the many differences that should be embraced.” Needless to say, she has never looked back.
These days, it’s the beauty of the Santa Barbara property and the passion of her team that hold her in thrall. “When you get down to it, it’s all about the people running the hotel. Instilling passion for service, for ‘wowing’ the guest – to me, that’s the core of being a good hotelier.”
As of press time, Earp had just returned from paddle boarding in Bora Bora – “it’s like you’re walking on water!” – and she’s totally into the California lifestyle, embracing cycling and winery hopping with equal brio. Apparently, she’s good at “wowing” herself, too.