The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort
What We Love
- An award-winning ranch in Santa Barbara wine country, with breakfast and a studioHaving a spacious Old West-inspired studio to call your own
- Enjoying your delicious Western fare, including your complimentary daily breakfast
- Getting going on the immense property, home to miles of trails for horseback riding, hiking, biking and more
- Winding down with a day spent by the pool or in the heavenly spa
What To Know
- The ranch is super family-friendly with a petting zoo, arts and crafts room, and activities like musical chairs, tie-dying, and karaoke
- Aside from typical ranch activities like horseback riding, there's also a high ropes course with a zipline, obstacle course and tightropes
- WiFi can be slow
The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort is a secluded, Old West-infused property in the beautiful countryside of Santa Barbara wine country. Horseback riding is the name of the game here at this relaxing retreat and has been since a Spanish land-grant owner turned these more-than-10,000 acres into a cattle ranch. Four ownership changes later, the now-resort still feels a lot like the Western frontier: The dining room, spa and fitness center all share a rich, earthy palette. You’ll fuel up each day with a Californian classic – say, a spice-rubbed prime cut or grilled-seafood plate – and then you can mount your horse and get galloping.
Or you can chart the territory another way. In addition to the 50 miles of horse trails, this TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner and top50ranches.com pick has quite a bit in the way of hiking, fishing and biking; there’s a spring-fed lake and two par-72 courses. You can even bike the 32-mile Figueroa Mountain trail that Tour de France participants regularly use to train. In any case, you’ll want to explore somehow – the rolling valleys of sycamores and oaks and surrounding vineyards are so picturesque, they’re worth a few “whoa there, cowboy”s themselves.
The resort’s accommodations share a Wild Western theme. TVs and telephones are out; wood-burning fireplace and deep, earthy textiles, including cozy linens, are in. Your studio will have roughly 420 square feet, including a king bed and a private outdoor patio with seating. For added convenience, you’ll also have a coffee maker and refrigerator.
Executive chef Pascal Godé has come up with a menu for the hotel’s restaurants that draws on California, both in style and substance. Think Old Western favorites – spice-rubbed prime cuts, halibut-fillet tacos – and ingredients grown in the region. You can sample such fare in the main Ranch Room, or by other parts of the property, and you can pair it with also-local wines, from Santa Barbara county.Please note that reservations are required to dine in the restaurant.
For guests of at least 16, Alisal’s spa offers classic spa services, including massages, facials and body treatments. In addition to traditional variations on these classics, like deep-tissue massage and hot-stone treatments, the menu includes options like Sun Downer, a wind-down oil rub and cleansing facial, and Sticks and Stones, a treatment that incorporates bamboo. Various waxing options are also available.
The hotel’s 10,000 acres are host to a range of different spaces, which are, in turn, host to dozens of interesting activities. Horseback riders will love the 50 acres of trails, tennis players will enjoy the six full-size courts, and golfers will love the two par 72 courses, one of which was designed by Billy Bell, Jr. Fishermen. At Lake Alisal, the ranch teaches classic and fly-fishing, and cyclers will appreciate the scenery on view along trails like the 32 miles up Figueroa Mountain – not to mention the challenge of this particular trail, which cyclists have used to train for the Tour de France. And kids will love activities like archery and air rifle.Beyond the ranch grounds, you can explore more than 75 acclaimed wineries and vineyards, visit the picturesque Danish village of Solvang or admire the ancient Chumash rock paintings and western art museums in Los Olivos.
How to Get There
We stayed here on a Stay and Play golf package and had a great time. The rooms are separate cottages with comfortable lounge chairs for two on each patio. The ranch style rooms have fire places, a desk, and a large separate bathroom area, all very nicely appointed. The two golf courses are very nice and each one has a very good restaurant on site. This is a great golf getaway location, just a short driving distance into Solvang where there’s great shopping and lots of options for eating. What a fun place to visit!
Spent 2 nights recently at Alisal Ranch and loved it! It feels like you're in a whole different world yet just a few hours from LA and close to the beach. Lots of activities to choose from..we chose the breakfast horse back ride and we rented a bass boat to go fishing and both were a lot of fun. The rooms have a rustic feel yet had enough updates that you didn't feel like you were roughing it. I see the no AC thing has come up and I do agree it can get hot but we had great temps at night so no issues..could be a problem in the summer months. Overall a very pleasant and fun stay while at Alisal Ranch.
I stayed at this place twice before in the last 10 years and loved it, it was an amazing experience well worth the money. It definitely has gone downhill. First of all, THERE IS NO AIR CONDITIONING. They do not mention anywhere when booking. My previous stays were during the colder months, but this stay was in a 100 degree heat. The front desk told us that the wall units are only for the disabled and the elderly, however, we saw plenty of other cottages where people had them who were not elderly or disabled.
The front desk gave us 2 keys of different size and shape but assured us that they would both work. Guess what, only one did. When we went back to exchange the nonworking key, they tried to convince us that this key was for the safe, which, btw, is a numeric button one.
It gets better. The bellhop who took us to the room (because, btw, you cannot drive up your car to most cottages, which is inconvenient) did not know how to operate anything and was useless (he did suggest "ice outside the library," so helpful).
The room was decorated poorly and was extremely outdated, felt like the early 70s, not something you expect for over 1K a night. The highlight of the room was, besides leaving it, was a tin impression of the pig head about the coffee maker. The "champagne" that we ordered for our arrival was prosecco. The flowers that we also ordered was a scary-looking bouquet with dry sticks and half-dead flowers.
There are no phones in the room to quickly call the front desk, we had schlep there every time we had a question or a problem (which was a few times).
The room that was called a "Suite" was in reality a "Loft" with a curtain to divide the sleeping areas.
Now about the hidden charges. The room charge was $775 per night, plus the following fees that they surprise you with at checkout: " $155 service charge, $70 bed tax, per day. The boat was supposed to be $50 according to their posted prices, but they charged us $60.
At our first dinner (the food was excellent), we were told by the manager that we get $36 credit for the drinks per night and encouraged us to switch our drinks order to more expensive wine. At checkout, we were surprised with all of our drinks charges that were under $36 per night credit. The person at the front desk had no clue what we were talking about, but reluctantly agreed to honor the $36 charge, but did it for only one night.
The staff at the resort have no training about the resort and where things are located. They also like to argue with the customers apparently at any opportunity that presents itself. For instance, when asked where our picnic basket was that was supposed to be ready by 7:30 (at 8 a.m.), we were told that it would be ready at our designated time. We had to point out again that it was due by 7:30 a.m. Turns out, they forgot to make it at all and had to make after we asked. The bellhop at the end of our stay asked how our stay was, and when I said it was not good, he laughed in response, not even "I'm sorry to hear that."
Now, about a few positives. The best one was leaving this place. Again, the food was great, especially at dinner. The breakfast horseback ride was great as well, except that they serve breakfast in a beehive, it feels like. There were swarms of yellow jackets there, which made me eat my food much faster than usual. The barn interacting with animals experience was wonderful, cannot describe it in words, they had goats, calves, rabbits, chickens, and pigs. The animals were well-kept, clean, and friendly. Overall, not worth a return visit anymore.