Just as the proverbial phoenix rose from the ashes, so too has the luxe San Ysidro Ranch. Montecito’s celebrity magnet at the foothills of Los Padres National Forest was nearly destroyed in 2018 due to wildfires and mudslides. However, thanks to business mogul and owner Ty Warner’s passion for preserving the historic ranch — where John and Jackie Kennedy honeymooned, Winston Churchill wrote a book and many other A-listers vacationed throughout the decades — it’s been restored.
If you’ve been to the property, you’ll be pleased to find some familiar standbys, including its olive-tree- and lavender-lined driveway, extravagant landscaping, intimate cottages, fine dining and personable staff.
But there are quite a few upgrades you’ll probably welcome as well, such as heated bathroom floors, charming objets d’art from Warner’s personal collection, modern furnishings and a new spa, complete with a romantic couples suite. With this iconic property, there is much to adore, but these are a few of the highlights.
It’s no wonder the 500-acre San Ysidro Ranch is a hot spot for weddings — the grounds are a botanical wonderland. From soaring oak, citrus, eucalyptus and jacaranda trees to an immense lily pond, rose pavilion and chef’s garden, the property’s landscaping is so verdant, it might make the queen of England a little jealous.
Since its reopening, the ranch also offers private hiking trails exclusively for guests in the surrounding mountains.
Expect the utmost privacy here. San Ysidro Ranch is tucked away in the foothills of the Santa Ynez mountains.
The accommodations also provide seclusion. Spread across the grounds are 41 individual cottages, and each feels like a quaint vacation home. Thoughtful touches like private patios with hot tubs or outdoor showers, impressive stone fireplaces and antique furnishings add to the ultra-luxe, home-away-from-home feel.
You won’t find cookie-cutter accommodations, since no two rooms are exactly alike in floor plan or décor. From the 2,500-square-foot Warner Cottage (a favorite among wedding parties) with its own heated pool to the charming 775-square-foot Daisy Cottage, each accommodation maintains a different ambiance.
What you’ll discover in most cottages, aside from sea or creek views, are cozy furnishings, an all-marble bathroom, complimentary minibar refreshments, a fireplace, Frette bath linens, an outdoor rain shower and a hot tub.
On clear days, many of the cottages have ocean vistas (like the Kennedy Cottage), so make sure to request one when booking.
The Culinary Delights
Helmed by executive chef Matt Johnson and fueled by the onsite organic garden, the resort’s two restaurants provide distinct and equally delicious dining options.
Casual pub Plow & Angel (a go-to among celebrity locals) is famous for its laid-back atmosphere that’s paired with excellent comfort food like mac and cheese and ribs.
Upstairs, The Stonehouse delivers sterling service, including dramatic tableside presentations (think steak Diane or baked Alaska) in a dreamy ambiance (roaring fireplace, twinkling lights overhead). No wonder it’s often touted as one of the most romantic restaurants in the Santa Barbara area.
Speaking of accolades, don’t miss taking a gander of the 12,000-bottle wine cellar. Treat yourself to one of the 2,100 labels for a complement to a convivial evening out.
This is a property with soul. Walk the grounds early in the morning to imagine newlyweds Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier lazily strolling to breakfast, or Audrey Hepburn lounging by the pool in those iconic shades of hers.
And that’s just the “recent” history. The ranch has actually been occupied since 1825. In fact, an old adobe cottage still stands from that era. You can arrange to have events or dinner for up to 12 people in it.