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“Outstanding Resort / Loser Restaurant”

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San Ysidro Ranch, a Ty Warner Property
Ranked #5 of 52 Hotels in Santa Barbara
Certificate of Excellence
West Islip, NY
Level 5 Contributor
79 reviews
70 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 270 helpful votes
“Outstanding Resort / Loser Restaurant”
Reviewed January 1, 2010

San Ysidro Ranch is outstanding. A lovely property full of character and charm. A gorgeous place to escape from the world into total privacy, which is probably why it has long been popular with Hollywood glitterati, who need to go somewhere discreet.

The rooms are lovely and exude understated luxury. They are furnished with antiques and original art. Every detail has been thought of and every amenity provided. We are leagues ahead of the prefab Marriott-plus style that all to often passes for luxury at large five star chain hotels.

The bed was a work of art with Pratesi fabrics, the same I sleep on at home. Kudos to hotels that uphold the same standards I do.

Our room had a deck so private that it included an outdoor shower for a bracing scrub on a December morning. However, there was not much of a view: the deck overlooked a stand of trees.

The fireplace was the cherry on top. Gas jets propelled flames among faux logs. While I usually despise fake fireplaces this one was charming and cast a happy glow and warmth throughout the room.

In the middle of the Ranch is a sinkhole they call the Stonehouse Restaurant. Okay I am in Southern California so I expect an expansive menu with lots of vapid but cute Cal-Ital and Cal-Asian touches. Instead I am handed a (dusty) folder with a short list of dishes that put the "T" into "Tired". People!!!! mixing roast beets, nuts, and goat cheese crumbles into a salad was innovative -- about 30 years ago, but now even my mouth breathing daughter-in-law adds them to her supermarket salad mix.

The main courses were heavy on the red meats, with no fish offering other than Scottish Salmon. Folks, if I wanted to eat Scottish Salmon would I be in Santa Barbara?

Okay, so I figure red meat is their strength, let's give the beef a try. The steak costs $48. At this price, it must come from one of those politically correct organic California artisanal beef farms where they give the bovine counselling before sending them to be butchered. I asked our waiter where the steak came from and received the response "The Mid-West". People!!!!! When I pay $48 for a steak, I expect you to know (a) the state, county, and pasture it lived in; (b) the type of grass it grazed on; (c) the name of its butcher; and (d) its breed.

Despite my deep misgivings about every aspect of the Mid-West, I ordered the steak anyhow. A thin little flap of brown meat, it gave new meaning to the word "non-descript". While I will never admit to eating at an Outback Steakhouse, the steak there is better than at the Stonehouse.

We also tried the Colorado Lamb (acceptable but what restaurant with pretensions west of the Mississippi doesn't offer Colorado Lamb) and the venison (dry and tough).

With its fake Brit name, you expect the Resort bar, The Plow and Anchor, to be a cosy spot with comfy seating, a roaring fire, and cheerful staff. Instead it is a soulless room of tables lines up in rows to accomodate overflow from the Stonehouse. The staff were overworked and gruff.

I would expect a place with the pedigree of the Ranch to make a first rate martini, but just to be sure I asked what vermouth they pour. First, the waiter didn't seem to understand what vermouth is or the essential role it plays in a martini. Secondly, when he finally clued in, he showed me a bottle of some California attempt to make a vermouth. People!!!! Vermouth is a suble beverage. California is not a subtle state. What could possibly make you think California would make a good vermouth? Martinis with the California vermouth were almost undrinkable. It is almost unthinkable that a Rosewood resort would not have a bottle of Noilly Prat behind its bar.

Are you getting my point: you should STAY at the Ranch but EAT off property. Just down the road, Piatti serves Italian food for people (like the rich folk who inhabit Montecito) who have actually been to Italy. Arigato Sushi in Santa Barbara offered the kind of innovative ocean-food that lures me to California.

My apologies that most of this review pans the restaurant. Despite the sinkhole restaurant the Ranch is an absolutely fabulous place to stay. That makes it so galling that they can't offer a better dining experience.

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
6 Thank tarrytown54
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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454 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (122)
Date | Rating
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English first
Tuscon, Arizona
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed November 11, 2009

My girlfriend and I spent last weekend at the Ranch. The food was unbelievably great and the staff courteous, well groomed and professional. We loved our cottage and were wondrous at the attention to every detail in this spectacular haven! Great job!

  • Stayed November 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank Lawyerup123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed October 18, 2009

A little slice of heaven! We will definitely be back. They don't miss a detail here.

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank newyorkspalover
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manhattan Beach, California
Level 6 Contributor
79 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 125 helpful votes
Reviewed October 7, 2009

We were debating between The Four Seasons, The Bacara Resort, and San Ysidro Ranch for our stay in Santa Barbara. In the end we decided to stay at SYR and were not disappointed. You could stay at a decent hotel almost anywhere, but what SYR offers is a completely different experience. As opposed to a resort on a large complex where the average accommodation is just another room behind a door in a long hallway of doors, the SYR differs in character. The SYR is comprised of a collection of cottage-like accommodations that vary in size. While some of the cottages are similar, no two seem exactly alike. Each has a personality of its own.

The rooms are tastefully appointed with pottery barn style furnishings. There’s a front porch area where it’s nice to enjoy room service, as well as a back yard area complete with a hot tub and outdoor shower. You know you’re on vacation when you’re showering outdoors. The complimentary drinks & snacks were a nice touch, and were replenished without us having to ask.

SYR is located in the hillside so there is no view of the ocean, which I thought would be a negative thing. We visited the Four Seasons and most of their rooms do not have a view and the view from those that do does not appear to be so spectacular. Plus the beach that it is across from doesn’t seem that great either. I’d rather be in the peaceful hillsides of SYR and adjacent to all the nice hiking trails.

We had dinner one night at the Stonehouse. The food there was pretty good and I’d probably say it was the best meal we had in the Santa Barbara area during our entire stay. If the weather is nice make sure to ask for an outdoor table on the elevated patio.
The gym & pool are nothing worth mentioning. They’re both rather small and seem to be unused, but it’s still well maintained. There is no spa so all spa services take place in your room. Parking is conveniently located right outside your cottage.

SYR is definitely pricey, but perfect for a relaxing get-away.

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Smooth_Obturator
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
KENT
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed October 6, 2009

My visit to this resort was the most unexpected pleasure of my life. I had heard about it from others, read reviews and looked at pictures. But to experience the beautiful gardens, perfectly restored buildings and setting was something else!! And the food was out of this world with service to match. Get here at least once in your lifetime its worth every penny or cent!!

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank The-Man-from-Ty
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
California
1 review
Reviewed October 4, 2009

San Ysidro Ranch is the best hotel in the country. It's perfect in every way. Each cottage has a fireplace, a private jacuzzi and endless amenities. It's also very pet friendly. And the Stonehouse restaurant makes the most delicious halibut I have ever tasted (including many trips to Alaska and fresh caught halibut.)

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled on business
    • Value
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    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Runrunrun1981
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed September 25, 2009

We needed a short getaway, close to home, so we decided to treat ourselves to the three night for the price of two package in one of the stuctures that dogs are allowed to stay. It included one dinner at the Stone House.

Though I could write a short story on our stay--overall is was a good experience, though it is unlikely we would return. Here are just a few of the expereinces:

1. Upon arrival we were told we had been upgraded to a two bedroom suite, since there was some confusion over the ocean view. The suite we had, was not a stnd alone cottage, and had a fabulous porch overlooking the orange grove/herb-veggie garden and the ocean. It was a nice touch.

2. Soon we found that the internet jack did not work. Since we prefer this to wireless, they sent one person to evaluate the situation, and when he could not fix it, they sent someone else, who also could not fix it, though they found another way of hooking up temporarily. We ended with our 50 foot of wire across the length of the suite for the duration oif our stay. We could have had another person come and work on the jack, but we turned them down, as our idea of a rest was not the coming and going of staff.

3. As we got comfortable, I went looking for the CD stereo (listed a a room amenity), as the DVD player didn't seem to play the CD. A staff member was sent up with a small Bose cd player. When I asked if the DVD player could play the cds he said no.

4. After all the hubub in the first two hours, without satisfaction, we began to think whether we wanted to cancel the Signature massages we had scheduled and cut our loses and just leave. Instead, we asked that a manager visit us. He (Alex or Adam?) did, and we told him were were concerned tthe rest of our stay would be like our last two hours of staff activity/inconviences. He assured us it wouldn't be, and he would personally speak with housekeeping, which we did not want unless we asked. We decided to stay and keep our massage appointments. When do you think housekeeping called to find out when we wanted them? During our massage.
After the massages we left a message for the manager, expressing our disappointment, and asked him to call. That was Tuesday night. It is Friday, and we still didn't hear from him.

5. Food.
Breakfast from room-service (the only way of eatting breakfast or lunch on the property--before we came we were told there was a more casual place, but when we go there, we were told it was a 20 minute walk) was fabulous, though the scrambled eggs didn't make it to the room hot. It is well worth the experience.

Dinner at the Stone House. It was good, though I don't know how they were rated as one of the country's 50 best. Some judge by the bread--it was OK. Desserts were very good. Entrees, OK to very good (we ate lightly one night and came back for our package dinner the next).

6. Noise
Several reviewers have made mention of the noise. This morning, before 8am, a large cement mxer went up one of the perimeter roads, not far from half of the lodging. Yesterday, during most of the day, beginning before 7am, was a loud, whinny sound, like a compressor. We complained and they said the noise was from a source off property. An hour or later hammering began on property in the opposite direction of the off site source. We requested that as long as we had the whinny noise, could they stop all other contruction in our area. They did. One early morning, as my dog and I walked in the gardens, a truck pulled up and two guys got out. This was before 7am. They measured a garden arbor.


Overall, it was quieter that where we live in west la, though we thought it would feel more secluded. For the money--almost 1500 dollars a night, we expected not to have to have things fixed when we were there, or have to call for listed amenities. Surprisingly, we did have a good time with all the glitches.

BTW, of the dozen people we met who were staying, this was everyone's first trip. Perhaps this is good marketing and/or a high percentage of people don't return. Who knows.

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank LosAngelesBreeze
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about San Ysidro Ranch, a Ty Warner Property

Property: San Ysidro Ranch, a Ty Warner Property
Address: 900 San Ysidro Ln, Santa Barbara, CA 93108-1325
Phone Number:
Location: United States > California > Santa Barbara
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Spa Hotel in Santa Barbara
#2 Romantic Hotel in Santa Barbara
#3 Family Hotel in Santa Barbara
#3 Luxury Hotel in Santa Barbara
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — San Ysidro Ranch, a Ty Warner Property 5*
Number of rooms: 41
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Nestled in the Montecito foothills of Southern California’s wine country, San Ysidro Ranch has provided a tranquil vacation destination for discriminating travelers for over a century. Guests are drawn to the Santa Barbara hideaway for its blend of natural beauty, romantic heritage and classic luxury. Myth and history mingle in the lush garden where Vivien Leigh and Sir Laurence Olivier exchanged vows; in the setting of John and Jackie Kennedy’s honeymoon retreat. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
San Ysidro Ranch, a Ty Warner Property Hotel Santa Barbara
San Ysidro Inn

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