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“Fabulous time at the Ranch”

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San Ysidro Ranch, a Ty Warner Property
Ranked #8 of 52 Hotels in Santa Barbara
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed May 20, 2007

My husband and I spent this past weekend at San Ysidro Ranch. We decided to go with a junior suite, and it was perfect for us. The room was nice with a comfortable bed and pillows, a fireplace, a flat screen TV which was inset into the wall, and a DVD player. It also had a refrigerator with complimentary drinks and snacks. On day 2, we asked for more drinks, which they brought us immediately. My husband thought the drinks/snacks should be replenished without us having to ask, considering the daily rate of the room, but I didn't mind.

The best part was the bathroom and patio. There was a glass enclosed shower in the bathroom, with a door that led to an outside shower. My husband loved the outside rain shower . And on the patio, there was a hot tub with jets, which we used quite a lot. Of course, there was a bathtub in the bathroom as well, but we didn't use it. I only wished the room had a chest of drawers somewhere. I like to unpack my clothes, and though there was a closet with some shelf space, it wasn't the same as having a dresser.

The grounds are beautiful. I loved the vegetable and herb garden (what they call the chef's garden) and the flower garden. The terraced effect is quite nice. We used their fitness center one day. It's not much. The equipment could stand to be updated. The pool looked nice and inviting. You could see the steam rising off of it, but we used our hot tub instead. One day, we went on a hike, and they provided us with a backpack, waters and a trail map. That was nice. The cookies by the front desk are good. And we enjoyed the wine and cheese reception they had. We didn't eat at either of the restaurants, so I can't comment on that.

We asked to take a look at a cottage for future reference, but they said that they were all booked. We agreed that if we were going to go again, we would probably save some money and stay in the junior suite again. We're the type of people who are out and about during the day, so we don't really need extra living space. But the pictures of the cottage did look nice.

We also liked the fact that everyone has their own parking space. Getting your car in and out of valet is kind of a pain, so it's nice not to have to bother with that. There was one night when we came back and our spot had been taken by another car. Guest Services took care of it immediately. They had us park at the reception area, drove us to our room in a golf cart, had us leave our car keys with them, and then returned our keys once it was sorted out. It was an inconvenience, but they handled it well.

Now, for some negatives. These things didn't lessen our enjoyment, but I thought I should mention them. The hot tub light and the light on the back patio didn't work. That was fine because there was enough light from the room to light the patio. Also, the heated floors in the bathroom never worked. They brag about that a bit, so it was kind of funny that they didn't work. We told them these things when we checked out. We told them that we weren't complaining, but that we thought they should know. It wasn't important enough for us to have them fixed when we were there. We did have someone come and fix our AC. It was blowing out air but not cooling the room. We called them as we were leaving for dinner. By the time, we came back, it had been fixed.

The other thing that we didn't mention but did strike us as inconsistent with the level of the resort was the housekeeping. On our first day, we came back from dinner at about 8:30 pm. They hadn't done the turn down. The front desk called us at 8:45 pm asking us if we wanted it, but we were settled in, watching a movie by that time, so we said forget it. The next day, they came by at 5:30 pm. We were getting ready to leave for dinner, so they said they would come back in an hour. We came back from dinner at 9 pm, and housekeeping hadn't been there. We called and asked for turn down service and for more drinks. They came then. I just thought it was odd for a hotel of this level to be inconsistent about it - maybe they were short-staffed? It wasn't a big deal, but we definitely noticed it.

Oh, and one other change I would make. There is a door from the back patio of the suite to the outside. There's no lock on that door. That made me a bit nervous because I was a bit concerned that someone would walk in when I was using the outside shower which faced the door. All the doors on the outside look the same, so it wasn't inconceivable. It wasn't a big deal, but it would be nice for peace of mind. Plus, we often used that door to go to reception, which was recommended by the guy who showed us our room because it is a shorter route. However, that means that we have to leave the bathroom doors leading to the patio unlocked because we can't lock them from the outside. I guess I'm just paranoid, but I didn't like that idea, especially since there is a public path that goes through the resort.

As some other reviewer said, we thought the whole guard by the gate was kind of funny. The funny thing is that by the restaurant is a street where there is no gate. And in fact, there's a sign saying it's a public trail. So anyone can enter from the other side of the resort, which makes the front guard thing a bit unnecessary, in my opinion.

Unlike some of the other reviewers, we didn't have any problems with the staff. Everyone was quite nice and friendly. We also didn't have any problems with construction noise. We did see that up by the pool they were doing construction, but because we were at the bottom of the resort, we weren't affected at all.

All in all, we had a great, relaxing time. We would definitely go again. It's pricey, but it's a nice getaway, and close enough to Santa Barbara to be convenient.

  • Stayed: May 2007, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank williams44
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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419 - 425 of 457 reviews

Reviewed May 14, 2007

My husband and I loved SYR so much during our honeymoon that we went back for our first anniversary. While the renovations were gorgeous, the service was lacking. Because of that, I think we vastly enjoyed our stay more during the construction than afterwards.

The first night we got there, the hot water was not working in the shower. That actually didn't bother me at all. It happens. What bothered me was the way we were treated by the front desk. After dinner, we stopped by the front desk to report the problem. The person helping us didn't even apologize for the inconvenience. Instead she talked to us like either we had broken it ourselves or we were just idiots who didn't know how to turn on the hot water. Given that we were paying about $900 per night, I don't think that was an appropriate reaction. Had we provoked this women by being overly demanding or upset, I would be more inclined to understand her tone. However, we were quite the opposite of upset. In fact, we told the maintenance man to come back the next morning because we didn't feel that it was urgent.

We were both a little shocked by the way we were treated. The last time we were there, everyone was so nice and accommodating. It's one of the main reasons why we thought it was worth the money to come back.

The incident colored the rest of the weekend. The place was full and there was always someone around. Last time we were there, we saw maybe one other couple once a day.

I would not recommend going on the weekend and paying full price. I would probably also wait until the new staff became more seasoned.

  • Stayed: May 2007, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank mkimchee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 26, 2007

An incredibly beautiful property, location, cottages, service, and food !

The San Ysidro Ranch delivers everything that their website offers and more.

Genuine luxury, taste, elegance and comfort in every well-thought out detail.

What a pleasure it is to stay here -- and to eat here !


Worth every penny.

If there was such a thing as a six star rating, they would have earned it...

Can't wait to come back...

  • Stayed: April 2007
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4  Thank CinderellaDearest
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 3, 2007

I love the remodeled San Ysidro Ranch. Construction and the noise that goes with it should be done by June.

The property and its gardens are utterly lovely. Cottage accomodations are exquisite, with every possible amenity provided.

I happen to like the gas fireplaces with the large stone hearths flanked by comfortable easy chairs, and actually prefer them over wood.

In agreement with the other guests who have commented about this, I do strongly recommend that they open the Stonehouse restaurant for breakfast and lunch as soon as possible.

Currently it is only open for dinner.

If Ty Warner/Rosewood wants to consider themselves a stellar property in every way, this expensive Relais & Chateaux needs to have breakfast and lunch at the Stonehouse for their guests.

Room service for breakfast isn't enough, no matter how beautifully served.

  • Stayed: April 2007, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank CinderellaDearest
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 20, 2007

This was my second stay, the previous visit taking place while the property was part of Relais et Chateaux. What a difference a change in management - in this case to Rosewood - makes.

The good stuff: it continues to be tucked high in the hills and comprised entirely of cottages, a setting that would seem to be ideal for privacy and discreet service. The restaurant has been rebuilt and (at last!) reopened. The gardens are as spectacular as ever, as are the walks, the view to the ocean, and the hilltop pool and fitness centre. Guest accommodations are gorgeous: cottages are either brand new or newly renovated with a high fence and both a front and back stone deck, the latter having a hot tub and limestone outdoor shower. The bedroom had hardwood floors, a peaked wooden ceiling, sumptuous bed, flat screen television, DVD, fireplace. The bathroom was huge and had a twin sinks, a claw foot tub, glass enclosed shower with its own glass door to the outdoor shower, and heated floors.

And yet … my first clue that something might be amiss was an email shortly after making the reservation from a “Revenue Manager” concerning dinner and spa treatments. That seemed like an odd public title for someone who presumably works in guest relations. After clearing the security checkpoint (which seemed like an odd cross between L.A. and the Third World) to enter the hotel, we were met on the driveway by what seemed like a veritable honor guard of front desk staff. They had obviously been through this drill before based on the positions they assumed on the front steps. The room contained a complimentary tray of snacks and water; very nice, except that it wasn't replenished, not even the coffee! The room itself was gorgeous but, despite its size, didn’t have a comfortable chair. The fireplace was gas rather than wood. Gas is, of course, popular because it is convenient and efficient; a hotel that purports to offer a vision of rural luxury might keep that in mind and use wood fireplaces along with availability of staff to make a fire. The bathroom looked a lot like something out of a Restoration Hardware fantasy. I like Restoration Hardware, but where is the originality in putting that look in a property where the starting room rate hovers close to $800?

The big letdown of the place is that it has an endless buzz, both literal and figurative. There was no warning that construction would begin early in the morning. A hotel that purports to be of this calibre is well advised to remain closed during construction rather than subject its guests to that level of disturbance or, at least not book guests into the cottages closes to the construction. That was followed by the surprise that the restaurant is not open for breakfast. Room service was available but, at this price level, guests deserve an option; this guest prefers to eat in a restaurant. The dining room looked much as I remembered it and, although the food at dinner was good, it was nothing close to the level it previously attained. The service was ruinously buzzy. I wondered if we should give in and include the phalanx of service staff in the dinner conversation.

Security was annoyingly and highly visible. There were frequent visitors on golf carts asking if we wanted turndown, more towels, etc. My experience of properties at this point on the price spectrum is that those things happen unbidden, silently and unseen. The evidence of the undoubtedly impressive staff/guest ratio was memorialized by clear garbage bags left in front of cottages containing yet more towels, more robes etc. The low point came when my partner, who is an early riser, saw the morning newspapers dropped at the gate to the cottage, which was immediately followed by the sprinkler system being turned on thereby ruining the newspapers.

Bottom line: if you are going to spend big money, go elsewhere, at least until they get the construction finished and the service in order. Until then, I'll be staying elsewhere.

  • Stayed: February 2007, traveled as a couple
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18  Thank russellhill
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 7, 2006

We just got back from a two nights' stay at SYR. We got married there a year ago and returned for our one year anniversary celebration. The location was still beautiful and quite special being nestled in the hills opposite the ocean. However, they seemed to have stepped up construction since last year. Half of the cottages were barricaded behind tall, wood fences creating an eyesore whenever you leave your cottage. The restaurant finally opened but the fare is less than spectacular. My husband ordered the special, babyback ribs with french fries and cole slaw. The ribs were over-spiced. All you could taste was the chili powder and cumin. The fries seemed to come straight from the freezer. In fact, very similar to the taste of Jack in the Box fries. I had overcooked pasta that just sat in my bowl like a mop of wet noodles. We got smart and ordered in-cottage thereafter. At exactly 8am every morning, we were woken up by hammering noises right outside our cottage. Though we were disappointed in our recent stay, SYR is still a special place to us because we got married there. Our only suggestion would be for them to lower their rates while all of this construction is going on. It seems rather unfair to ask for almost a grand a night when the standards of the property are not what they used to be.

  • Stayed: September 2006, traveled as a couple
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21  Thank bbluv
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 13, 2006

We just returned from our second trip in two months to SYR. On our first trip, we got engaged. The hotel staff not only helped facilitate this special, surprising (for me) moment, they seemed to utterly enjoy it: they took pictures of my fiance on his knee, sent flowers to the room and made us feel that we were on our honeymoon already. One of the first to congratulate us was the General Manager, Duncan Graham, who was genuinely happy for us.

This time around, my parents surprised us with a stay there. Again, the staff was in on the secret and had fun with sending false emails and once we arrived everyone pretended we were there for a "site tour." The flowers in the room, welcome cards addressed to us and stationery with our names on it, greeted us in our Cottage. For the rest of the weekend, we were treated as if we were anxiously awaited guests in a private home. Again, Mr. Graham was there to say hello and invite us to his nightly wine and cheese reception. When my fiance asked if he could go on a tour of the construction, they were ready to comply. Though we didn't end up going, because relaxing by the lovely pool took precedence over walking through construction, we were struck that there is no, "No," at San Ysidro -- only, "How can we help?"

The rooms we have had were spectacularly decorated and elegantly appointed. One cannot go wrong with a creek side room, no matter what the size. They are private, each has it's own tile jacuzzi on the deck, and have the most comfortable beds of anywhere I have been. But that is not only what makes SYR so special; beautiful rooms can be found anywhere. It is the staff here that really elevates SYR from being a mere hotel to being a heartfelt, magnificient getaway. Even with the construction, I cannot imagine a better place to be. It is a slice of heaven.

Not only is San Ysidro Ranch my favorite place in Santa Barbara, it is one of my favorite places in the world. We are returning in two months for our honeymoon and will continue to visit every chance we get.

13  Thank PrincessPingtons
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

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:
#2 Romantic Hotel in Santa Barbara
#3 Family Hotel in Santa Barbara
#4 Spa Hotel in Santa Barbara
#6 Luxury Hotel in Santa Barbara
Price Range: $825 - $1,438 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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