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at the San Ysidro Ranch
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Tops in Santa Barbara/Montecito
Feb 25th, 2021
Although San Ysidro Ranch has been welcoming guests since the late 1800's, I just enjoyed my first 2 stays here just 2 weeks apart. Originally a sanctuary for Franciscan monks in the late 1700's, it was also a citrus farm. Most famously, John F. and Jaqueline Kennedy honeymooned here. The Ranch has been owned by Ty Warner of Beanie Babies fame since 2000. He is a local resident and also owns the nearby Four Seasons Biltmore (currently closed). Never an inexpensive lodging choice, the Ranch had increased value recently. When the pandemic closed both indoor and outdoor dining, the Ranch offered an all-meal-inclusive in-room dining package at standard rates. During my second visit, outdoor dining had just reopened, so the Ranch included restaurant dining in the package as well. The Ranch is located in a residential area of affluent Montecito, nestled amongst estates with large roadside gates and mansions not visible from the street. The Ranch itself is down a lovely lane surrounded by olive trees and fields of lavender. There are 41 cottages/hideaways situated U-shaped around expertly-tended central gardens of citrus, roses, vegetables and herbs, plus a lovely pool and temporarily closed fitness centre. The 2017 wildfires, especially the Thomas Fire, severely denuded the hills above the Ranch, so the subsequent heavy rains and mudslides in January 2018 heavily damaged or destroyed about half of the Ranch's cottages. However, by March 2019 the Ranch had reopened, thanks to speedy reconstruction and renovation, lots of mature trees, vines and plants, and Mr. Warner's clout. The Ranch looks unscathed today. Some of the cottages are free-standing, others share common walls. All have private patios, Persian rugs, antiques, four poster king canopy beds. Some have hot tubs, outdoor rain showers and stone fireplaces (gas). Mr. Warner is fond of pigs and their significance in Chinese culture, so there is a sleeping or sniffing porcelain pig in each cottage (also for sale in the gift shop). There is an expansive minibar with top-shelf liquor and many bottles of wine. The non-alcoholic beverages and snacks are complimentary. I stayed in the Jasmine and Magnolia Cottages. The Jasmine is a quaint free-standing creekside cottage, while the Magnolia is one of the French Lavender cottages, slightly larger. There's no such thing as a "bad" cottage--make a choice based on location, availability and price. The Kennedy cottage is one of the pricier ones, while the Warner cottage, really a 2 bedroom 2.5 bathroom villa with its own pool, is the priciest. During my first stay, only in-room dining was available. The menu choices were fairly broad. The attendant can set up the meal either indoors or outside. For my second stay, the Stonehouse Restaurant had reopened for outdoor dining on its upper terrace and lower patio. There was just one menu--when both Stonehouse and Plow and Angel (a second less formal restaurant) are open, I believe there are 2 separate menus. The restaurant menu had a few more choices than the in-room dining menu and the atmosphere and ambiance are beautiful. I enjoyed breakfast, lunch and dinner on the upper terrace, with distant ocean views. Note the Stonehouse (housed in a circa 1889 building) is popular with locals and non-guests, especially at dinner. I think breakfast may be for guests only. I saw Mr. Warner in the restaurant one evening. Dining at the restaurant was a bird-free experience, which was not the case when dining outdoors on the cottage patio. I noticed a lot of crows on the property. I can tell you crows and bluejays seem to like yellow and blue packets of artificial sweetener. For both visits, I did not venture off-site at all, although the staff can arrange a plethora of activities for you if desired. There are quaint shopping areas just down the road and also closer to the highway. I was happy enough to enjoy the cottage, the gardens, and the pool. Guests can dine poolside or in any of the gardens also. The Spa is under renovation. There is a bridge over the creek just beyond the restaurant valet parking area that just reopened before my second stay. Here is the access point to many hiking trails into the hills. Service overall was outstanding with nary a glitch. Overall 2 unforgettable stays. TRIPADVISOR.COM USER
Jan 8th, 2021
We came here just as Covid was entering the thoughts of people across the nation. My wife was pregnant at the time due just a couple months later and we wanted to get one last great California trip in before hunkering down with our newborn. Little did we realize this would be our last trip for some time. We're so glad we came here for this. The great service started from the moment I called to reserve. This was our first time and the agent did a great job of helping me pick the perfect cottage. We chose a specific creekside one bedroom and it was a great choice. Our cottage had a spacious indoor living room with amazing fireplace and an equally great outdoor space to enjoy during the day. The bathroom was beautifully decorated, large and well appointed. During our stay we enjoyed an amazing meal at Stonehouse outdoors. Even with it being a bit chilly out in February, the outdoor heating lamps kept us feeling warm. We also dined at Plow and Angel another night. The food here was great as well, but it's a bummer there is no reservations. Next time perhaps we can put our name down and just go hang out in the cottage while we wait. Service at both was good, but next time we'd probably stick to just going to Stonehouse. We enjoyed room service many times and it came promptly, correctly and at a great temperature every time. It's always a favorite of ours to have breakfast in our room and they do it great here. Overall service across the property is great. The property is well maintained and every employee we spoke to was friendly and willing to help us quickly. We can't wait to come back and really like that the property is family friendly as well, so we can bring our son with us next time. TRIPADVISOR.COM USER
Nov 28th, 2020
Paradise on earth! This property, the rooms, the gardens, the dining, the staff are the best you will find anywhere. We’ve stayed in Laurel and Honeysuckle, once before the mudslide and again after the repair. The tranquility they have cultivated here is beyond comparison. It is also apparent that the staff operates as a true team. If you mention a request to anyone, the whole team is on it immediately. TRIPADVISOR.COM USER
Fairy Tale Dream Wedding
Nov 14th, 2020
My husband and I were married at the ranch and from the beginning to the end of our stay, it was absolutely perfect. All of the staff were so kind and helpful, we felt cared for and able to relax completely the whole time we were there. That meant a lot to us, especially in these stressful times! From the personal touches in our room (a card conrgratulating us, Prosecco, and chocolates) to the accommodations we asked for (decorating our cake & our table with the personal touches at our intimate dinner with family) it was simply beautiful. The dinner and breakfast at the Stonehouse was delicious and memorable. And of course the ceremony itself in the rose garden was something out of a fairy tale dream. We look forward to spending our anniversaries at the ranch, and are so grateful for the incredible memories we made there. Thank you so much! TRIPADVISOR.COM USER
fantastic stay for 2nd time in 2 months later 2020
Nov 3rd, 2020
Covid motivates us to seek stays where safety and good health practices are likelier. Lucky enough to now have stayed 2nd time since summer 2020 at San Ysidro Ranch. The cabins have an older-fashioned vibe and are maintained and kept at top condition with endless small touches all done just right. The things you'd want new are new and the antique-y bits are great and in top shape. Staff all above and beyond, every time, every interaction and request. Place is kept indoors and out at stunningly beauty and makes for easy, no-worries, just-ask-and-they-handle-it stay(s). Love hiking, short drives to interesting towns and sites nearby. Love the grounds, the FOOD (so yum), the bar and cocktails and wines are epic. Might be dull for kids, but for adult visitors: maximum recommend. TRIPADVISOR.COM USER
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