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
So we planned a very relaxing 2 day trip to Alisal. My husband and I wanted to unwind and relax and this was perfect.
Reservations was able to get us into a deluxe suite on the lane, which was beautiful. Looking out to the pastures and horses was serene and tranquil.
We booked massages in the spa ahead of time and booked for right after check in. We both had great 60 min massages that started the trip off perfect. “Lucky” was my masseuse and he unkinked some tense muscles. I am so glad we booked that as a starting point to our few days here.
Dinner on St Patrick’s Day was corned beef and cabbage, which was, by far, the best corned beef ever.
We signed up for a last minute novice trail ride on day 2 and Elizabeth, our handler was such a joy to ride with. She really took us all on a gentle ride through the vast land here, which is beyond beautiful. I think it’s been at least 20 years since I’ve been on a horse, but it was wonderful...
The only thing wrong with the trip is that we have to leave.
Thank you to all at Alisal for making this such a pleasurable and relaxing time... Kathleen, the General Manager is taking this nostalgic place with timeless traditions into the future with grace and integrity. I love being able to completely unplug in a place that’s almost stopped in time, but I also love the ability to enjoy modern amenities as well... thanks for the attention to detail!
My husband and I went for 4 days. We rode horses everyday and enjoyed great food at the resort. Our room was cozy and the staff were all friendly. I will absolutely be going back in the near future. The food was well prepared in the dining room. However there is a small gap in serving lunch and dinner, so if you want an afternoon snack, bring them yourself. There is no place at the resort to purchase anything in the afternoon before dinner. That would be the only complaint from our trip. But I know for next time. It was so quiet at night and the beds are very comfortable.
My family has been going to the Alisal for over a decade now, we love the horseback riding, the ranch is beautiful, and it's refreshing to be able to disconnect due to no TVs nor phones being in the room. As always, my family and I ate in the dining room at dinner for every night of our stay. While we usually come away raving about the food and service, this time there were many little mistakes all 3 nights at dinner that negatively impacting our experience and why I gave it an overall 4 stars:
1) Two people at the table ordered lattes at dessert on the 1st night, both tasted like there was only warm milk. We told the waitress and asked her for espresso shots to add to the lattes. She brought back a small pitcher of it, I tasted it before adding it to the latte and it was obvious that it was just coffee, not espresso. Both people couldn't make it past a couple sips of the latte
2) Every night they got our drink orders wrong
3) On the 1st night some of us got Alisal Specials, after we asked for a refill of them it took 25 minutes to fufill the order.
4)The chicken tortilla soup came out cold the 2nd night, it was obvious that they hadn't even warmed it up before it left the kitchen
On the 3rd night they did serve me the wrong side with my entree but I did not include this in the complaints because the manager came over promptly, was quick to offer to replace it, and overall handled the situation in an extremely professional and pleasant manner. The best takeaway from this review is implementing or reinforcing the training that the waiters and waitresses also need to check that orders are correct. Kitchen staff and bartenders can make mistakes and the servers could have checked to make sure the drinks were correct, the soup was warm, and the side was right before setting it down on the table and leaving the customer to ask for the mistake to be corrected.
Wonderful place, just lovely. Many things to do, horse back riding, archery, fishing, the list goes on. We stayed 4 nights, everything was outstanding except maybe the evening meals, and service was a tad slow. The evening meals were 4 out of 5 stars. The first night the food was great, then the second night was ok, and it went down hill from there. Breakfast was always lovely. Rooms are top notch. The store and spa was a bit to pricey for my blood, bring the prices down a little bit so we feel like patrons can afford to enjoy. The pool was beautiful, the grounds were wonderful, the staff was lovely. Thank you for a wonderful stay.
Nicely kept property in pretty location, but it was mostly populated with family reunion type get-togethers when we stayed there during the summer. We were looking for more of a romantic getaway with horseback riding, so we were a bit disappointed.
The staff was very nice, however, and food was quality...and they have a great wine list.
Our room was OK nice, but we expected more for the $$.
People love this place, as we learned by talking with families staying next door to us, and they have been coming here for 28 straight years, so Alisal obviously has great appeal to the right demographic. .