Set in the Santa Ynez Mountain foothills, this summertime idyll is waiting to be discovered
In Partnership with SAN YSIDRO RANCH
Words by CAITLIN WHITE
For 130 years now, San Ysidro Ranch has been the standard of excellence in greater Santa Barbara. Few places invoke the real spirit of California luxury like “The Ranch,” as locals and regulars affectionately call it. In 2000, entrepreneur Ty Warner acquired the property and guided it through a major restoration. Even with a plethora of luxury hotels in the area offering fierce competition, there’s a reason The Ranch was named the number-one resort hotel in California by Travel + Leisure last year: There’s simply no place like it in the world, given the epic proportions of the space, natural landscape, and idyllic positioning between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.
Located in Montecito, this secluded foothills property is a true boutique hotel with just 38 vine-covered cottages spread out over more than 550 acres. Every room includes a king bed and antique furnishings, a private patio with a hot tub or outdoor showers and jacuzzis, fireplaces, and heated bathroom floors. Seventeen miles of hiking trails and an outdoor pool add to the ease of indoor/outdoor living, and cottage-side parking ensures guests coming and going are afforded the most privacy possible.
The hotel boasts a star-studded record of past guests, including former presidents and movie stars; the extremely private nature of the estate is part of what has led to its storied legacy. John and Jackie Kennedy honeymooned here, Groucho Marx escaped Hollywood to hole up at The Ranch, and Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh got married on-site, and Harry Styles and Olivia Wilde have stayed. Beyond the rich history, the stunning natural beauty, carefully preserved and tended to by the hotel’s stewards, draws return guests, celebrities, and VIPs to book repeatedly.
Most of the 38 cottages are named for various plants growing on the hotel grounds, although a few are dubbed for famous guests who stayed there over the years, like Churchill and Kennedy. Each standalone cottage includes a gated entry and private parking, intermixed with citrus and olive trees, botanical gardens, a lily pond, and a Wine Spectator–awarded restaurant, The Stonehouse, which is located in a 19th-century citrus packing house. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus champagne brunch on the weekends, and is quickly earning a top slot among locals.
With an outdoor terrace, plus a separate bar and lounge area, The Stonehouse’s lauded kitchen serves seasonal dishes prepared with fruits and vegetables from the on-site chef’s garden by Chef Matt Johnson, a West Coast native who grew up in a family that worked in the Santa Barbara wine industry. Johnson graduated at the top of his class from Santa Barbara School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management, then spent some time cooking in European kitchens before eventually returning home. Additional on-site dining options are available, including the more casual Plow & Angel, plus the Veranda, the Wine Cellar, Secret Cellar and the Old Adobe (a state historical landmark), all of which can be used for private gatherings.
May 16, 2023.
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