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“Can be better!” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort

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Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort
1054 Alisal Road, Solvang, CA 93463   |  
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Hotel amenities
Ranked #2 of 10 Hotels in Solvang
san diego
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Can be better!”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 21, 2012

I took my 3 kids (aged 13, 11 and 7) to Alisal Ranch in April for a 3 day-2 night stay.

Minuses:
At the time of booking, I was told it activities would be included so it would work out to be about $1650. When I checked in, I was told activities were not included and we were already there and ended up paying about $2,500. Also, lunch was not included. Aside from price (which we do not mind paying if it's good value), I personally think this place is overrated. The rooms are ranch-style and older and undergoing re-modelling. The pool was crowded and the layout was plain. There was only 1 ping pong table and ping pong balls were crushed. The staff worked hard but do not go out of the way to make us feel welcomed, with some exceptions like Dale who gave lessons on Archery and gun rifles. He is wonderful !!! A lot of people raved about the food but I think they are fine dining but not super memorable or special.

Pluses:
Kids get to roam on their own and love that sense of new found freedom. The morning horse back ride to the Adobe House is very memorable. Afternoons were too hot so morning rides are better but cost more. People who were there were mostly with their family. I was surprised to learn that many have been going to this Ranch for many years. We did meet a wonderful family and the kids enjoyed spending time fishing (easy to catch some), playing soccer and other activities.

Overall, was a fine trip for a few days but there are so many other great places I think we can go. This is not a place to go for luxury but the energy of the place and people can be more vibrant.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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121 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (31)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Any
English first
Los Angeles
Top Contributor
61 reviews 61 reviews
30 hotel reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
48 helpful votes 48 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 1, 2012

My husband and I have been wanting to stay here for decades, and have gotten to visit twice this year. Both times were exceptional, but in different ways. The first visit, we were fortunate enough to be there over the time Jim Messina was putting on a Singer-Songwriter workshop for a few lucky individuals. This culminated in a dinner show on the weekend that was simulcast on the internet. We were lucky enough to get tickets to the show, and it was delightful getting to see the songwriters perform their own songs. The second half of the show featured friends of Jim Messina who came to jam with him, and play his songbook. We felt almost like family by the end of the evening. Everything about Alisal Ranch gives one that feeling. The pacing is slow. The horses gentle. With over 100 horses, there are plenty to choose from. The wranglers are exceptional, and a great deal of time is spent finding just the right horse for each guest. Highly recommend the breakfast ride, which leaves in the early morning, and culminates at the adobe by Alisal Lake, where a wrangler entertains with singing and guitar, and the large BBQ area is set with the same delicious breakfast one receives in the dining room, but which tastes even better because it is out under the sycamores. The fishing is excellent, and the working cattle ranch makes you feel like you are much farther away from civilization than you are. Yoga and spa offer a retreat after the day's activities. Most people golf on the two courses, but we headed out to visit a half dozen of the beautiful wineries in the area. We never watch TV, so that was not missed...and isn't that why you go to a ranch in the first place? Bucolic surroundings make even a few days here feel like a week's vacation.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oakland, CA
Top Contributor
85 reviews 85 reviews
73 hotel reviews
Reviews in 61 cities Reviews in 61 cities
46 helpful votes 46 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 17, 2012

This is definitely a family resort with more to do than you could possibly fit in the four days we spend here. Archery, fishing, air rifle range, shuffleboard, a great art room, ping-pong, horses, petting zoo (recently with three captivating baby bunnies), golf, tennis, spa (good but not great) acres to roam and for children to wander without fear, a good workout facility, and beautiful grounds. The rooms are not great, most have not been updated as the photos on the web site make it appear. They are very much throwbacks to another era. You do get a coffee-maker and great shower but the furniture may date to the 80s, at best in most. Beds are okay. And you have to be somewhat careful about which room you end up in or you may end up listening to your neighbors, so get a property map if you can.
I happen to really like the food. Homemade granola is superb, great berries, good fruit, nice buffet for kids to graze, best hot chocolate in the country. Great meat at dinner, reasonable wine list and very good vegetarian selection. Peanut butter pie and Oatmeal pie are outstanding dessert options. Breakfast and dinner are included in the price of the room.
My family (3 kids, parents) look forward to the this trip each year. The service is wonderful, people who work there really seem to enjoy it. Plus, if you tend to go back around the same time each year, you get to know other guests. It is a throwback in many respects to a better time, better place.

Room Tip: Rooms in separate buildings are very good. But you don't go to Alisal to spend time in your roo...
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 11, 2012 via mobile

And I'm 15, so basically my entire life. Alisal is honestly my favorite place in the world. I wouldn't miss our annual trip there for anything. There is so much you can do, for all the people saying they got bored: you don't know how to have fun. And also you don't need a tv, it's teaching you to live Without one. If you need to go watch tv, go to the library (adults only, so no noisy kids) or in the cottonwood room. Also there are two desktop computers in the library as well, they are slow but they work. There is pool and ping-pong. If you honestly get that bored, the scenery will take your breath away. The horseback-riding is phenomenal! It is always fun, even of your horse decides to misbehave (you get a story out of it at least). You also never ever want to miss the breakfast ride! It's an experience to have! Hope you enjoy your stay at the amazing Alisal.

  • Stayed April 2011
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Monterey, CA
1 review
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed February 27, 2012

In travel, you win some, you lose some, and I lost at the Alisal Guest Ranch. Unless it's part of your family tradition or you maximize every cent (golfing, tennis, fishing, and riding) of an off-season package deal, I have no idea why someone would spend $400-$500 per night here. First, I'm disappointed in the Alisal for, in my opinion, misrepresenting the quality of its rooms on its website. My husband and I visited the ranch recently, so that he could ride and I could relax in what appeared on the website to be a sunlit, open, airy, and tastefully appointed room. Instead, I had the pleasure of spending two days in a dark, dank, and cold room--one step up from a Motel Six and the bathroom was right on par with that of a Motel 6. So disappointing, especially since we spent $400/night on our stay. I feel terribly foolish. Granted, the restaurant was quite pleasant, as were the common spaces, but when you want R&R, you want a pleasant room in which to nap and read. My husband and I have traveled all over the world, and I have never stayed in such a mediocre room at that price point--the meals and activities, unfortunately, did not make up for it. I'm sorry to say I was glad to finally go home and rest in my own (vastly superior) bed. Alisal ought to honor the values of its long and storied heritage and offer a more truthful representation of its rooms on the website.

Room Tip: Ask before you book!
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thousand Oaks, California
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 13, 2012

We spent 2 nights there in the winter, when the prices made our stay a real deal, because most of the activities were included free.

The location is beyond heavenly! Why go to a dude ranch in Wyoming, when you have The Alisal in California? You will ride horses through herds of wandering cattle, past eagles' nests and a hidden lake, see an old wrangler's cabin (you can tour it when you are on the Saturday breakfast ride--it's been restored with antique furniture, cast-iron kitchen utensils, lots of taxidermy including a stuffed mountain lion, etc.), and see turkey buzzards hovering in ancient oak trees overhung with Spanish moss.In fact, the breakfast ride was a high point not to be missed!

I really liked the attention to safety at the barn. They have a really nice group of quality horses, most of which are reliable for beginners, and some of which are fun for advanced riders, too. The horses are very well cared for, and the wranglers (Kudos to Julia, who was a lovely guide!) take very great care to make the ride safe as well as fun. If you want, you can spend 4 hours a day on a horse, seeing the best and most beautiful California coastal valley scenery....In fact, the Alisal is not far from the old Reagan Ranch....you can imagine what Reagan must have loved about the area.

If you love ranch riding, you should visit The Alisal especially in winter when the hills are green and the days are cool. It is a world apart....a real California treasure.

Room Tip: Some rooms can be noisy in summer. It doesn't matter very much in winter (the nicest time to vi...
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Orange County, California
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 5, 2012

This was my 3rd time at the Alisal. The location is beautiful, nestled in the Santa Ynez mountains near Santa Barbara. Accommodations are nice, but not at all fancy. If you're expecting a 5-star resort, this place is not for you. Where they do excel is in their service. All staff I interacted with were very professional and friendly. Breakfast and dinner are included, the latter being particularly nice. My only complaint is that, as other reviewers have noted, all the activities are extra. I suppose this has to do with the clientele the resort is seeking to attract -- not budget-conscious travelers, but wealthier individuals with money to spend.

Room Tip: Avoid the rooms closest to the golf course; they are older-looking and not sound proof. Best rooms a...
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort

Address: 1054 Alisal Road, Solvang, CA 93463
Phone Number:
Location: United States > California > Solvang
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#4 Business Hotel in Solvang
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 73
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort is located in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley and renowned Santa Barbara County wine country. Privately owned and operated since 1946, the Alisal is a working cattle ranch and full-service resort. This historic ranch is one of four original Spanish land grants on the west coast given to conquistador Raimundo Carrillo in the late 1700’s. Today, the romance and majesty of the old west remain in the wide-open spaces and unspoiled natural beauty of the Alisal. They serve as a reminder of simpler times and as an invitation to those with a taste for adventure. As California's premier guest ranch, the Alisal transports guests back to a bygone era. Set on a 10,000-acre working cattle ranch, this one-of-a-kind resort blends the best of nature with exceptional golf, horseback riding, tennis, fishing on a 100-acre private lake, fitness center and spa, children's activities, barnyard activities and fine dining. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Alisal Guest Ranch Hotel Solvang
Alisal Guest Ranch And Resort
Alisal Hotel Solvang
Alisal Resort Solvang
Alisal Ranch Solvang
The Alisal Guest Ranch

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