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Travel - San Ysidro Ranch, Santa Barbara

Travel - San Ysidro Ranch, Santa Barbara

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Published by Barry Pollack

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Published by: Barry Pollack on Oct 10, 2010
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Barry Pollack’s “Going Places”San Ysidro Ranch, Santa Barbara
There’s a special place nestled in the hills above Santa Barbara, a small andintimate resort renowned as a romantic getaway for the rich and famous. Inalmost any travel magazine or survey - Zagut, Travel and Leisure, and many more – you’ll find it listed among the best hotels or most romantic spots in the world. Itis the San Ysidro Ranch, known as “The Ranch” to its devotees. Situated on 500plus acres, barely a mile uphill from the San Ysidro exit on the Coast Highway inMontecito, the property is secluded in the wooded foothills of the Santa YnezMountains with grand views of the Pacific and Channel Islands.
San Ysidro Ranch
 
(800-368-6788)
, one of California’s oldest resorts, iscelebrating its 110
th
anniversary this year. It began as a way station forFranciscan monks building California’s missions in the 1700’s. It was a citrusranch in the 1800’s. In 1893, it opened to guests. But it wasn’t until 1935, whenmovie idol, Ronald Colman, and former California senator, Alvin Weingard,purchased the property, that it became a celebrity destination, a legendaryhideaway for Hollywood stars, literary luminaries, and politicians.Vivien Leigh and Sir Lawrence Olivier were married there. And, if you wantto experience your own Camelot, you can stay in the same cottage where John andJackie Kennedy honeymooned in 1953.The Ranch is a village made up of 38 suites in 21 separate cottages. Whilesome of the cottages, like the Kennedy cottage, have two suites, most are singles.Each has a fireplace. Most have private decks. The majority have secluded hottubs. And every residence has the name of its current guest posted on an outdoor
 
placard. If your children come along, there will be special children’s linens ontheir beds along with stuffed animals. Rates run from $399/night year-round.With a marvelous climate and a hundred year claim to fame, there are no “offseason” discounts at the Ranch.The San Ysidro Ranch is a “Relais and Chateaux,” one of an exclusiveassociation of luxury hotels in 51 countries throughout the world. Each “Relaisand Chateaux” is privately owned, as is the Ranch. Its owner and manager is TyWarner, originator of Beanie Babies and also the owner of the Biltmore in SantaBarbara and the Four Seasons in New York. Most “Relais and Cateaux” aresituated in gorgeous countryside locations. Some are former castles, abbeys, orprestigious estates. And all meet high standards described as the 5 C’s -courtesy, charm, character, calm, and cuisine. The San Ysidro Ranch fits thatdescription perfectly.Guests can hike on nearby mountain paths or stroll the Ranch’s beautifulgardens, the setting of many a wedding. Whether you go there for business orromance, it’s an ideal place for establishing an intimate bond. The cottages arerichly decorated with exquisite but comfortable furniture and eclectic antiques.And each has its own special charm. While you can make your own history here, you might imagine yourself in the company of the former residents of these cozycountry cottages. You can stay in the same hideaway where Bing Crosby or AudreyHepburn, Paul Newman or Barbra Streisand sought solitude, where Richard Nixonor Hubert Humphrey connived, or where writers from Somerset Maugham toSinclair Lewis found inspiration. John Huston wrote the “African Queen” here.Aldous Huxley may have imagined a “Brave New World.”While the hotel’s premiere amenity is its country setting and charm,there’s also a pool, twp tennis courts, a small fitness center, and in-cottage spa
 
treatments. And service here is appropriate to the resort’s fame. There are twostaff members for every guest. You can bring your pets as well. There’s even abit of extreme decadence with a room service menu and a collection of spatreatments just for your pet.The Ranch has two award-winning restaurants, the formal yet romanticStonehouse Restaurant and the cozier Plow and Angel Bistro situated right belowit. There’s an organic garden on the property where Chef Jamie West grows thevegetables, fruits, and herbs that inspire his innovative menu. While you canchoose to enjoy either restaurant, you can also dine with a few friends in an evenmore personal and rustic setting - the San Ysidro Adobe, the resort’s originalbuilding, built in 1825. Dining there is like having dinner in a frontier museum.You can have a private reception, an intimate wedding, or a decadent nightat The Ranch’s Eucalyptus Retreat, a 2200 square foot house with two grandbedrooms, a spacious living room, a dining room, a fully stocked kitchen, and aprivate pool and spa with unsurpassed views. For its price of $4100/night, Iwould hope to be staying with a celebrity – perhaps someone like Julia Roberts.Or, you could choose to skip a night’s stay at the Ranch and simply enjoy thebargain of a sun-drenched and romantic afternoon there meandering throughtheir flower gardens and dining at the Stonehouse or Bistro.On the evening I stayed at The Ranch, the winds were blowing fiercely.From my deck, I watched eucalyptus trees swaying majestically, and a rainbowarcing from the mountains into the sea. With dusk, the oil rigs offshore camealight. And then, with a tree falling on a transformer far down the hillside, thepower went out. In the dark, I lit my cottage’s fireplace and a half dozen candlesand I listened to the wind. It was an indescribably romantic night. And Iunderstood at once why Jack Kennedy and Marilyn - I mean Jackie - found love

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