The University of California at Santa Barbara is actually in Goleta, 8 miles away. I guess that's OK, since UC San Diego is in La Jolla. The Santa Barbara airport is also in Goleta. That'll come in handy getting from the conference to the airport on Thursday.
The Rancho Santa Barbara Marriott, however, is really not in Santa Barbara. It lists itself as 35 miles north of the airport, so it's even farther from Santa Barbara itself. I was originally booked into the Holiday Inn, but a week before the conference rooms became available at the Marriott -- at a cheaper price, even.
If I can make it to 50 nights with Marriott this year (I'll be at 32 after this week), I reach "gold" status. The primary benefits from that are room upgrades and access to the executive lounge. Nice enough when I'm on the road by myself, but it'll be really cool when Christina travels with me. I had complimentary Hilton Gold access for a while, and she really enjoyed the nicer digs in Sydney and London.
So it seemed worth the drive for that alone, but it's actually turned out even better than I thought. The drive is mostly along the Pacific, and it's been fairly fun. It's not much longer than my usual daily commute. I've gotten to see part of California (the Santa Ynez Valley) I haven't seen before.
When I made my reservation, they couldn't guarantee me a king bed. When I checked in, I asked the clerk if I could be switched from the two queens room I had. She said the only king rooms they had left were "accessible" ones, which I could have if I liked. I asked what the difference was, and she said they had larger bathrooms and a detachable shower head. After being assured they had plenty such rooms (so I wasn't taking one away from someone in a wheelchair), I decided I could handle it. Christina hypothesizes that I gave up some space in the main room for the bigger bathroom. I can live with that.
After checking out the room, I wandered in to the gift shop. I had picked out some toiletries when a woman came in and told me they weren't open yet. I asked when they would open and she said, "Maybe tomorrow or Wednesday." I had to think about that, but she said the hotel had been without a gift shop for several years. It now seems to be open (why else would they stock newspapers?), just in the morning or evening when I walk by.