The following comes from a December 14 OC Catholic article by Kimberly Porrazzo:
Father Peter Towsley didn’t look like the other guests waiting to check in at the Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara. While most who had just arrived at this AAA Four-Diamond luxury hotel were dressed in resort wear and had enough bags to fill the porter’s luggage trolley, he arrived wearing his Roman collar and carrying a simple small suitcase. What they all had in common, however, was the need to get away.
Father Peter is the Vicar for Evangelization for the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Danbury. “I needed a vacation,” he says, adding that he had heard about the unique offer from the Meritage Collection, which includes Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara, Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa Valley, Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach and Estancia La Jolla Hotel and Spa in La Jolla. “I came across some link about it,” he says. The offer is this: Priests are invited to stay at no cost at any of the resorts that have an onsite chapel if they celebrate Mass each day in that chapel.
“Trying to get priests to get away is not an easy thing,” Father Peter says. But he adds that this trip was well worth it. “I walked on the beach today. I prayed the rosary.” In the past, he says, he’s been invited to get involved with cruise lines. “They’ll oftentimes give you a room if you say Mass and hear confessions. But this experience is different. There’s a beautiful vibe here among the workers. There is a kindness and people are respected.”
For the lay Catholic who also seeks a spiritual getaway, a stay at Bacara delivers. Guests are invited to attend daily Mass in the chapel without ever having to leave the property. Chapels also have been consecrated at the Meritage Resort and at the Estancia La Jolla Hotel. All are intimate and offer those attending Mass a spiritual experience that is, for some, richer and deeper–the result of the setting, as well as the calmer and more relaxed state of mind most are in while on holiday.