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Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment introduces guests to the natural wonders and rich cultural history of the Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara. Designed for adults, families, and children, participants in Ambassadors of the Environment can discover the Gaviota Coast’s natural wonders both on land and sea, including kelp forest, a diversity of birds, the intertidal zone, and traditional Chumash culture through exciting and memorable adventures and activities.

Activity Guide (PDF)                     

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The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara is pleased to announce the launch of its new “Adopt-a-Butterfly” program in partnership with nearby Ellwood Mesa Butterfly Reserve. Inspired by the Monarch butterflies that migrate south along the California coast between November and March each year, the new program is designed to help travelers learn about this important natural phenomenon while also allowing them to participate in restoration efforts that give back to the environment and local community of Goleta.

To honor the resort’s commitment to the environment, the new butterfly programming will be offered through the resort’s Ambassadors of the Environment Program between November 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020. The prestigious and award-winning program was developed by Jean-Michel Cousteau – who resides in Santa Barbara – and introduces guests to the natural wonders and rich cultural history of The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara.

Guests may opt to book the “Adopt-a-Butterfly” overnight package, which includes an “adoption” donation to the nearby Ellwood Mesa Butterfly Reserve to benefit butterfly conservation, or they may sign up for butterfly programs individually via The Ambassadors of the Environment Program.

“Adopt-a-Butterfly” Overnight Package

  • Overnight accommodations
  • Donation to the Ellwood Mesa Butterfly Reserve to benefit butterfly restoration, education, and conservation
  • Butterfly-themed welcome amenity
  • Complimentary butterfly experiences via The Ambassadors of the Environment Program

Bike and Hike to Ellwood Mesa Butterfly Reserve
Offered Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
$50 per guest

On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, guests may participate in guided tours of the Ellwood Mesa Butterfly Reserve. Following a brief presentation about the butterflies by the resort’s expert naturalists, participants will bike or shuttle to the Ellwood Mesa Butterfly Reserve for a guided tour of the property and more information about the restoration efforts. After viewing the property, guests are taken on a short nature hike to the Ellwood Mesa Butterfly Reserve, where individuals can best see the beautiful butterfly migration taking place. Guests are also able to explore the nearby Ellwood Cliffs for stunning panoramic views of the California coast before heading back to The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara. Reservations are available for $50 per guest and includes a backpack and re-useable water bottle. 24-hour advance notice required.

Migrating with the Monarchs
Offered Fridays from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Complimentary

On Friday afternoons, guests of all ages are invited to a complimentary butterfly arts and crafts experience where they can decorate butterfly cut-outs and learn fun facts about Monarch butterflies. Once decorated, the creations will “migrate” north to The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe to symbolize the real butterfly migration. The hand-crafted butterflies will be displayed until November 2020, when they will “migrate” back south to The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara. Children will be encouraged to name their special butterflies so they can keep track of them and visit them next year.

Plant-a-Pollinator Garden
Pricing varies

While the milkweed plant is commonly known as the host plant for Monarch butterflies, pollinator plants such as Lantanum, horse minut, licorice mint, monardella, and yerba santa are critical to attracting butterflies and therefore a necessary part of overall migration. To help support the need for more pollinator plants, guests are invited to assist in planting various pollinators at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara and create a pollinator garden that will attract butterflies. Participating guests may also create their very own plaque to show which plant is theirs, which they can revisit over time.

Instagram Moment: Butterfly-Inspired Wings Painted by Colette Miller
Complimentary

To capture the special butterfly experience in photo form, guests and locals alike can pay a visit to The Ambassadors of the Environment Program Center where they will find life-size, colorful wings from world-renowned artist Colette Miller of the Global Angel Wings Project. The wings – hand-painted by Colette exclusively for the resort – feature a butterfly-inspired design to pay homage to the migration season and offer an Instagram-worthy backdrop for guests of all ages.

Children Aged 5 – 12

CSI: Coastal Scene Investigator

Salty the Seal has gone missing and Ambassadors has the important job of investigating why.  Through water-testing techniques and coastal observations we collect samples and analyze data to make final conclusions that help solve the case.

Coastal Discoveries

Explore land’s end as we take a close-up look at both sides of the water’s edge. During this program young participants will discover life in the intertidal through hands on exploration and guidance from our experienced naturalists.

Water Wows

Water is truly unique. It is what makes planet Earth different from other planets. What makes water so special? Discover the importance of water and how YOU can conserve and protect it. Be a scientist; conduct water-based experiments.  Join the adventure to learn more.

Cosmic Adventure

Discovering the constellations in the night sky instantly connects us with the history of our species, through our cosmic origin and the myths and legends that have been constructed to explain our connections to the cosmos. Explore our galaxy and learn about distant stars on our iPads.

Shark

With over a dozen different species of sharks inhabiting the Santa Barbara Channel’s waters, including the infamous Great White, The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara is the perfect place to study this apex predator and its relatives.

Whale of a Tale

Discover the natural wonder of the rich diversity of marine mammals: whales, dolphins, seals and sea lions, found in the Santa Barbara Channel.  Our naturalists will share their knowledge of these magnificent creatures through interactive activities and games. Then we’ll head for the coastline and search for some of our favorite marine mammals.

Waves of Wonder

Through hands-on experiments, learn about ocean currents, tides and what makes the perfect wave. Take a journey outside to see the water in its powerful state from a safe, dry location on property.

Ecohike

Explore our coastal nature trail and discover interesting adaptations that enable plants and animals to survive in this arid landscape.  Step back into time as we understand how the Chumash survived on this land for thousands of years. On the hike, we engage in a scavenger hunt, several interactive discussions, and challenge activities.

Creatures of the Night

We experience the heightened sensory awareness that comes from being outdoors at night, including sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell and intuition. We watch and learn how other species far surpass our limited abilities to function in the dark and become entranced by this other-world of mystery and beauty.

Young Adult

Lights, Camera, Take Action

Think like a Cousteau and explore video production as we research, write, direct and star in our own public service announcements. At the end you will have an environmental message of your own to share with your friends and family back home.

CSI: Coastal Scene Investigator

Salty the Seal has gone missing and Ambassadors has the important job of investigating why.  Through water-testing techniques and coastal observations we collect samples and analyze data to make final conclusions that help solve the case.

Coastal Discoveries

Explore land’s end as we take a close-up look at both sides of the water’s edge. During this program participants will discover life in the intertidal through hands on exploration and guidance from our experienced naturalists.

Ecohike

Explore our coastal nature trail and discover interesting adaptations that enable plants and animals to survive in this arid landscape.  Step back into time as we understand how the Chumash survived on this land for thousands of years. On the hike, we engage in a scavenger hunt, several interactive discussions, and challenge activities

Creatures of the Night

We experience the heightened sensory awareness that comes from being outdoors at night, including sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell and intuition. We watch and learn how other species far surpass our limited abilities to function in the dark and become entranced by this other-world of mystery and beauty.

Adults & Families

Ecohike

Explore our coastal nature trail and discover interesting adaptations that enable plants and animals to survive in this arid landscape.  Step back into time as we understand how the Chumash survived on this land for thousands of years. On the hike, we engage in a scavenger hunt, several interactive discussions, and challenge activities

Coastal Discoveries

Explore land’s end as we take a close-up look at both sides of the water’s edge. During this program participants will discover life in the intertidal through hands on exploration and guidance from our experienced naturalists.

Local Adventures (PDF)

Ambassadors of the Environment Naturalists

The naturalists of Ambassadors of the Environment are more than just guides—they are equipped with the knowledge and experience needed to share and explore the wonder of the natural world with you. All naturalists have college degrees in a wide range of science fields and have experience working with young people. They are First Aid, CPR certified and are trained by Jean-Michel Cousteau’s team. Additional trainings are frequently held by the by renowned marine biologist, photographer and educator, Dr. Richard Murphy, the chief scientist with the Cousteau’s for more than 40 years.

Terms, Conditions and Frequently Asked Questions

  • Recommended attire for children’s programs:
    Closed toe shoes are recommended for hiking programs
    Sunscreen is recommended for all programs
  • Reservations for all activities are required and to ensure availability a minimum three hour advance notice is requested. Parents will be required to sign a release waiver before their children participate in an activity.
  • Activities are subject to weather conditions and may change. We reserve the right to cancel activities if there are no sign-ups by 5 p.m. for the next morning’s activities or three hours before the afternoon and evening activities.
  • All activities begin and end at the Ambassadors center located on the third floor of the main lobby adjacent to The Rotunda.
  • The children’s programs are limited to ages five and older and proof of age is required upon check-in.
  • For safety reasons, naturalists reserve the right to require any individual to wear a personal floatation device during water-based activities.
  • Please note that if you wish to change or cancel your activity, you must contact Concierge at 805-571-3012 or resort extension 43012, 24 hours in advance of the program to avoid a 50% cancellation fee, unless otherwise noticed.
  • Extended hours are available for all programs including the one hour break between programs (morning-afternoon; afternoon-evening) for an additional $30 USD per hour per child. Meals can be provided at an additional charge to the guest and can be selected upon program check-in and billed directly to the guest folio. (Lunch 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m., Dinner 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.).

Available upon request

  • Exclusive Adult & Family Activities.
  • Private activities can be created for any family, couple or group. The Ambassadors program supports and partners with many local organizations and can create private activities with exclusive access for unmatched experiences. If you would like to experience an activity on a day it is not offered, please contact us and we will do our best to accommodate your requests.
  • Birthday parties can be customized for kids of all ages. Pick from a variety of themes and activities. Please contact us for details.
  • Extended hours of supervision are available for participants of our programs at a charge of US $30 per hour per person. If desired, lunch and/or dinner can be provided, where not already stated, for an additional charge to the guest. Please contact Ambassadors of the Environment for more information.

Cancelation Policy

  • Please note that if you wish to change or cancel your activity, you must contact Ambassadors of the Environment 24 hours in advance to avoid a 50% cancellation fee.
  • **Due to liability reasons, all children must be at least 5 years of age and bathroom independent. All 5 year olds must arrive with proof of age upon registration.

For further information or to make reservations, please contact concierge at 805-571-3012.

Biography

Jean-Michel Cousteau
President

Ocean Futures Society

Explorer. Environmentalist. Educator. Filmmaker. For more than six decades, Jean-Michel Cousteau has dedicated himself and his vast experience to communicate to people of all nations and generations his love and concern for our water planet.

Since first being “thrown overboard” by his father at the age of seven with newly invented SCUBA gear on his back, Jean-Michel has been exploring the ocean realm. The son of ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, Jean-Michel has investigated the world’s oceans aboard Calypso and Alcyone for much of his life. Honoring his heritage, Jean-Michel founded Ocean Futures Society in 1999 to carry on this pioneering work.

Ocean Futures Society, a non-profit marine conservation and education organization, serves as a  “Voice for the Ocean” by communicating in all media the critical bond between people and the sea and the importance of wise environmental policy. As Ocean Futures Society’s spokesman, Jean-Michel serves as an impassioned diplomat for the environment, reaching out to the public through a variety of media and educational programs. Meeting with leaders and policymakers at the grassroots level and at the highest echelons of government and businesses, Jean-Michel is dedicated to educating young people, documenting stories of change and hope, and lending his reputation and support to energize alliances for positive change.

With Jean-Michel’s lifetime of achievements and exemplary public service in ocean conservation through education, awareness, and diplomacy, he was honored with the highest French civilian order of distinction, the Chevalier de la Légion D’Honneur, Knight of the Legion of Honor from the President of France, François Hollande in May 2016.  Jean-Michel has been honored with many Lifetime Achievement awards over the years, including the Environmental Hero Award, presented to him by then-Vice President Gore at the White House National Oceans Conference in 1998.