May 16, 2024
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Orient-Express taps McIver for El Encanto opening


El Encanto, the historic Santa Barbara hotel that’s set to reopen in March after seven years of renovations, has appointed Laura McIver as its general manager.

McIver, whose first official day on the job is Aug. 6, will lead the luxury resort through its second grand opening. She was general manager at Canary Hotel in downtown Santa Barbara before she signed on with Orient-Express Hotels, a hospitality company that purchased El Encanto for $26 million in 2004.

“This has been in the works for a couple months, since after Canary’s transition of ownership to Kimpton [in March],” McIver told the Business Times. “The regional manager for Orient-Express was looking for someone who had Santa Barbara knowledge, and he was in contact with one of my old mentors. They chatted and he referred him to me.”

Two years after Orient-Express bought El Encanto, located in the hills of Santa Barbara’s Mission Canyon neighborhood, it closed the hotel’s doors for renovations. Construction restarted in 2011, when Sonnenblick-Eichner Co., a Beverly Hills-based investment firm, arranged for $45 million in new financing for the project.

McIver said the March opening for the 92-room resort is “solid” and that construction is going as planned. The hotel is undergoing an “extensive and meticulous restoration to recapture the romance and glamour that made it a favorite getaway of Hollywood’s elite,” according to a news release from Orient-Express.

Canary has not yet announced who will replace McIver.