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“A true experience” 5 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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Ranked #2 of 10 Hotels in Solvang
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“A true experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 29, 2013

My husband and I stayed at Alisal for a quick, mini-vacation at the end of April (not summer or spring break so it was lightly occupied). Checking in on Friday and departing on Sunday. In advance I had asked if we could take advantage of some activities even before check-in. They said we could and while we didn't do so (went wine tasting instead), thought it was great. We had a lovely suite (really too big for two people) with NICE bathroom and comfy bed. We particpated in the horse ride to breakfast, air rifle and canoe'd around the lake (early Sunday morning and we were the only ones there). All events were fun and well managed. Staff was great...funny and engaging. I sat and read around the pool for a short time. There were lots of families -- seemed to be multi-generational and since we enjoy watching little kids, it was fun to be with them all. I say this because it is a family place. If you don't like kids, go somewhere else. It was fun to sit in the common room before dinner and talk with the other guests. Once you had one day done, there were things/activities in common to start the conversation and it went from there. So, even if you are just a couple, you get to know others pretty quickly. It is expensive and if you soak in the place, well worth it. I am a FOODIE, so the food was very good but not exceptional. It was very well prepared, generous portions, good selection and basic preparations. It isn't gourmet and we still enjoyed every meal. One more day to really relax and not feel compelled to do activites would have been perfect. Of course a week would be even better.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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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
Irvine, California
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 31, 2013

First of all, we didn't do our homework. This IS a family place-period. We are a couple. Secondly, we went over Easter/spring break (also my birthday). The grounds are lovely and the staff very nice. Our room was ok, but dated and dark. We liked the idea of no TV, phones or Internet access. We wanted peace and solitude. Also looking for some fun by the lake, archery and air rifle classes along with some spa time. The spa/fitness center is stark, nothing fancy. Around 7pm as we were getting ready for dinner, the rooms and family in our quadrant (4 rooms in one building) had a complete meltdown. The parents had NO control over the kids. Screaming, door slamming and harsh words ensued. We were amazed and powerless. Off to dinner we went and it was ok. Pretty heavy food and not particularly healthy.
The resort was swarming with kids and not very well behaved for the most part. More a reflection of our society I'm afraid and not the ranches fault. It was evident to us that this was not the place for us especially at the high price ($625 per night) we were paying. Gratefully, the management released us from our 3 night commitment. We came home. Disappointing to say the least. Great place for families with less than well behaved children. Not great for couples who want some peace and relaxation.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 22, 2013

We returned to Alisal last week with my two adult daughters for a girls weekend and had a fun filled time. Many visitors come every year with their families, but this is a luxury for us. It's a pricey get away, but worth the cost. First, we love to ride horses, play golf, drink good wine and relax by a nice pool. Alisal has it all including a beautiful setting in the San Inez Valley. The recent explosion of the area as a wine region makes it even more fun.

Room Tip: All the rooms are ranch rustic. Room for 3 people had 3 comfortable twin beds.
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 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.
Honolulu, Hawaii
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 17, 2013

This was our 20th corporate retreat and the location/hotel/staff was the best we've ever had!!! The food was amazing, both quality and quantity! The hotel staff were incredibly friendly and went out of their way to meet all of our requests. The wranglers were so patient with our group of mainly beginner riders. Golf, fishing, spa treatments were top notch!!! Evening entertainment with Patrick in the Oak Room was the perfect way to end our days! Fantastic five nights!!!

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
silicon valley
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 23, 2013

I was finally able to get into Alisal guest ranch after trying many times over the years.I now understand why people go back year after year.Breckfast, dinner and activities are included in the rate and you are seated at the same table each day.There is no stress about getting into an activity.We booked last minute and were able to play golf,do a trail ride, and the breckfast haywagon ride on property.The ride takes you to the site of the original adobe which has been recreated,furnished and has flush toilets.Everyone on staff does everything possible to accomodate you and make you feel like a regular.The rooms are a good size (ours had 2 bathrooms).The decor is cowboy rustic and most seem to have a fireplace.You do not come here for the thread count of the sheets.You come because there is no phone in your room,no TV, no cell service and 20,000 pristine acres of ranchland.There is also a pool,ping pong library,tennis and 2 golf courses.The food in the restaurant is varied and inventive.The menu changes daily but you can always have unlimited bacon at breckfast.

Room Tip: Get a loft room if possible as it has 2 bathrooms.
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DaveLautensack, General Manager at Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort, responded to this review, March 13, 2013
I would like to clarify one thing that the guest stated in their review. While the Alisal Guest Ranch is located in a fairly remote location, we do have cell service. Verizon cell service works very well, while AT&T service is limited.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Top Contributor
51 reviews 51 reviews
51 hotel reviews
Reviews in 45 cities Reviews in 45 cities
68 helpful votes 68 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 5, 2012

I thin k it's all been said before - we loved the Alisal. We booked a two day package and although it was off peak season and quiet everyone went out of their way to make our stay wonderful. Being the week before thanksgiving is about as off-peak as you can get and the ranch only had about 30 guests staying - enough to give it atmosphere at mealtimes ( good simple and tasty fare with plenty of choice) and for the early morning campfire session which we joined on the 'hay wagon'. The fact that other guests included a multi- generational party, the elders of which have been coming for 45 years speaks volumes. We'll have to return as an extended family too!

Loved the homely rooms with wood bur ning open fires (definitely a must for the cool nights ) and the fact there was no tv or radio in the rooms - a well needed break from all that, though there is good wifi throughout the property. We were blessed with marvellous weather - hot cloudless skies and cool nights, but the weather changed the day we left and it would have been disappointing not to have been able to take advantage of all that the ranch offers:riding, fishing, hiking and more. If you feel you need civilisation Solvang is just a few minutes away by car and it's only about 40 minutes drive to Santa Barbara.

Room Tip: We liked the rooms that clustered around the main green right close the dining room; rooms are clust...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
Foster City, California
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 7, 2012

We spent 6 days here in August and had a wonderful family vacation. We've never been on a Ranch vacation and everyone - my in-laws, us and the kids- had a great time. The fun never stopped.

I think people have pretty much covered all the cool things to do here. It's really a family place and a great place to entertain multi-generational groups. My in-laws had their own separate room (which was one of the newest and was very nicely appointed) and enjoyed two days of golf. They liked that it was relaxing, no one had to worry about cooking and my MIL took the shuttle down to Solvang for window shopping twice (totally her thing). My husband got in a hike and played tennis. He signed up for a group lesson but no one else showed so he had a private lesson and loved it. He got to talking to the tennis pro and he set up my hubby with a friend to play. Hubby has never gotten to play tennis on a family vacation before so this was just the best for him. I guess even better because he beat the guy (who is really good) and then the guy wanted to play again (he loss the second time) so he was stoked to get in three days of tennis! My daughter also played "pee-wee" tennis and Walt and the teen girls that played with my daughter were great. She had fun!

The horse riding was amazing. They have so many trails! My daughter who rides horses, was in heaven! We did a group trail ride and two breakfast rides. I used to ride and was able to keep up with her as the the horses are well trained. The wranglers are personable and all the little girls just love all the girl wranglers - which I thought was great for them to see strong confident women doing something they love. We had Haddie twice and my daughter loved her.

My younger one was too little for the horseback riding but was able to enjoy free pony rides and hung out at the barn. You can pick eggs each day and on your last day they will send some home with you. You can spend hours hanging with all the animals in the barn. One day they brought out a mini petting zoo in the parking lot with snakes, iguanas, rats, birds, etc. The kids loved it! It wasn't on the schedule so it was a nice surprise.

Speaking of schedule, this place is like being on a cruise without the sea sickness. There's a full schedule of events, with something for everyone. Teen night at the lake, family movie on the lawn at night, astronomy talk for the kids after dinner, craft room for the kids, pool games, air riffles, fishing, tennis lessons, the list goes on. If you don't like the scheduled stuff, there's so much else to do (catch the shuttle to Solvang, for example) but it's okay to do nothing too! We spent some time doing just that at the pool or at the lake!

I really could go on about all the fun things we did. But I think you get my point. There are three downsides to this place. While the property is immaculate and just amazing, the rooms are a bit "rustic". No AC, no TV, no phone, and depending on where your room is Wi-Fi is a bit spotty. Not sure when some of these bed spreads were last washed. But I took it as part of the ranch experience. The other downside is that nearly everything you do is ala carte. Other dude ranch vacations we looked at had all the activities included. This place is not cheap to begin with and then to add on each activity adds up. And lastly, it's REALLY hard to get in. There are families that have been coming for YEARS. Like we met an 11 year old girl that said it was her 11th year there. Returning guests get priority for the same week the following summer. And most people make their reservations when they check out. I can tell you that my MIL was thinking this is a one-time deal but after a great week, she was sitting down with the reservationist on our last day trying to reserve for next summer! (sadly, we're on a wait list because we need to move a week earlier for 2013 and there's no space)

All in all, if you can get in, you'll have a great time. The staff is wonderful. The food is good and the experience you'll have is tops. Experience the great outdoors in this beautiful ranch!

Room Tip: If you're not a returning guest, you don't have much choice on your room. You get what you...
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 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.
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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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