A Scenic Sojourn Through Southern California

A photographer captures timeless appeal along the West Coast during a romantic escape to Beverly Hills and Santa Barbara.

by Natalie Bogan Morgan
Of his stay near Hollywood, Murphy remembers: “My first impression of the Beverly Wilshire was, this hotel is very exclusive and I can imagine running into someone famous.”
“Santa Barbara [offers] the biggest health-focus just because of the number of outdoor activities on your door step," says Murphy. "You could swim, go for a bike ride, walk the beach, paddle board, the list goes on and on.”

Though Michael Murphy is a project manager by trade, the lensman’s eye for photography is what earned him a winning spot in the Focus on Four Seasons Instagram contest.

The New Hampshire–based talent, along with his wife Liz, recently returned from a six-day escape to the West Coast, where they soaked up the sun, sand and hospitality offered by Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara and Beverly Hills Wilshire, Beverly Hills (A Four Seasons Hotel).

“Both properties were very impressive, but the professionalism of the staff was what stood out,” Murphy says. “Our experience started and ended with a genuine interaction, which enhanced the mood and set the tone.”

Now that the two are back home, Murphy is dishing up all the picture-perfect destination snapshots he captured along the way.

Seeing Santa Barbara

Since opening in 1927, Four Seasons The Biltmore Santa Barbara has preserved its Spanish Colonial-meets-modern-luxury style. Photography by Michael Murphy
“The concept of rejuvenation [in Santa Barbara] was captured through the pictures of all the luxurious spaces presented to guests,” says Murphy. “These areas were very inviting and encouraged the user to step outside of “real life” for a moment and be treated to something special.” Photography by Michael Murphy
“Santa Barbara [offers] the biggest health-focus just because of the number of outdoor activities on your door step,” says Murphy. “You could swim, go for a bike ride, walk the beach, paddle board, the list goes on and on.” Photography by Michael Murphy
“We rented bikes and took the bike path along the ocean from Montecito and around downtown Santa Barbara. The Funk Zone was a personal favorite. We enjoyed the eclectic mix of breweries, wine tasting parlors, to one of a kind antique stores and my favorite Lucky Penny. What’s not to like about a local eatery completely clad in pennies!” Photography by Michael Murphy
Hundreds of thousands of copper coins mark the facade of Santa Barbara’s Lucky Penny restaurant. The restaurant is known for its seasonal wood-fired pizza, salads and sandwiches. Photography by Michael Murphy
Four Seasons Santa Barbara is pet-friendly, enabling guests to bring up to two, 50-pound dogs. Pet sitting is also available through the Resort. Photography by Michael Murphy
“The image of the head chef holding a handful of freshly picked lemons was my favorite from Santa Barbara,” says Murphy. “[It] helped tell the story of the locally grown food and the farm to table cuisine that was so abundant in the Santa Barbara area.” Photography by Michael Murphy
The Santa Barbara Courthouse Clock tower. Visitors can ride the elevator to the top of the mechanical clock tower and enjoy stunning views of the city . Photography by Michael Murphy
“I’m very partial to old architecture and the beach, The Biltmore had the best of both worlds. It felt like you had your own private beach house, the personal experience was second to none.” Photography by Michael Murphy
Intricate glass chandeliers and Italian onyx set the scene for signature drinks and classic cocktails at the Resort’s Ty Lounge. Located steps from the lobby, the spot offers Spanish tapas at night, along with hard-to-find Spanish wines by the glass. Photography by Michael Murphy
Located in the Funk Zone of Santa Barbara, Cork and Crowns’ tasting room is known for its wide selection of beer and wine tasting flights. For a more in-depth look at the area’s wine offerings, book the Resort’s wine tour package, which includes a leisurely breakfast for two, as well as a five-hour vineyard excursion and gourmet lunch. Photography by Michael Murphy

Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara

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A glamorous stay in Beverly Hills

“My first impression of the Beverly Wilshire was, this hotel is very exclusive and I can imagine running into someone famous,” laughs Murphy. “This was my first time in the Beverly Hills area so I was not sure what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised how luxurious and amazing the hotel was.” Photography by Michael Murphy
“Beverly Hills is an urban experience. The architectural scale and traditional city block streetscape surrounding the Beverly Hills Wilshire contributed to the ‘city feel.’” Photography by Michael Murphy
Located at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Rodeo Drive, the historic Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills (A Four Seasons Hotel) is a local legend, built in 1928. The Hotel features glamorous details in everything from the Buckingham Palace-inspired gate and Scottish gas lamps to the cobblestone drive and dramatic elevator doors. Photography by Michael Murphy
“I found the observance and preservation of the history of each property to be very important. The Beverly Wilshire is an iconic hotel with a rich pedigree not only in hospitality, but local culture.” Photography by Michael Murphy
“My favorite image from Beverly Hills is the picture of my wife pouring a cup of morning coffee on our balcony. This was a great way to start the day and watch the sun rise up over the skyline of downtown LA. It also helped that we were still on east coast time that made it easy to soak in the every California sunrise.” Photography by Michael Murphy
Guests can sleep in and enjoy a fine-dining experience in the comfort of their room. The Beverly Wilshire offers room service 24 hours a day. Photography by Michael Murphy
The Spa at the Hotel is a calming respite in the heart of the bustling city. Here, find everything from organic-focused skin treatments and massages to anti-aging services and salon offerings. Photography by Michael Murphy
Just past the Mediterranean-style pool, active guests will find the bi-level Fitness Center. Beyond utilizing the cardio and weight-training equipment, visitors can also book a private yoga session. Photography by Michael Murphy
The Hotel’s CUT restaurant offers visitors an award-winning contemporary American steakhouse. Designed by Chef Wolfgang Puck, the crisp, all-white interior sets the scene for artfully-plated steak and seafood presentations. Photography by Michael Murphy

Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills (A Four Seasons Hotel)

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Follow the other winners of the Focus on Four Seasons Instagram contest to Hawaii and Europe.