Tucked away on a hillside, along a winding road in the charming coastal community of Montecito California is the ultra-exclusive San Ysidro Ranch. As you enter the 500-acre property you can’t help but marvel at the lush grounds of lavender, rosemary, wild roses and untamed vines of night blooming jasmine that excite your senses with their efflorescent scents—the idyllic setting is simply sublime. With its blend of natural beauty, laid back charm, and perfectly appointed guest cottages peppered throughout the property, the Ranch has a unique California style all its own.
The story of San Ysidro Ranch is rooted in the rich history books of Old California. Glamour and romance, intertwine with legend and myth to make the Ranch a California icon and one of the state’s most exclusive luxury retreats. Originally part of land titled in 1769 by the King of Spain, it later served as a way station for Franciscan monks in the late 1700s and then a working citrus ranch in the 1800s, before becoming a guest ranch. The San Ysidro Citrus Ranch, which would later become the Johnston Fruit Company, harvested an average of 300,000 oranges and 100,000 lemons annually. In 1889, a large sandstone packing house was built to handle the citrus production – which today houses the Ranch’s acclaimed Stonehouse Restaurant.
In 1825, an adobe ranch house was constructed by Thomas Oliviera, the son of a Presidio soldier, and remains today as one of the most unique private dining rooms on the West Coast. In 1892, a ranch house was built that would become The Hacienda, the focal point of today’s Ranch where guests check-in and gather to relax and socialize. In 1893, the Ranch accommodated its first guests. In the 1930s, Hollywood actor Ronald Colman and hotelier and former Senator Alvin Carl Weingand acquired the Ranch and transformed it into a world-class destination resort.
In 2000, entrepreneur Ty Warner acquired the Ranch and the property has since seen major restorations including the addition of flat screen TVs, radiant-heated bathroom floors, private patios with outdoor rain showers, candles and poetry books that mingle with antique furniture, all while staying true to its California bungalow style. The Ranch remains one of the most intimate and luxurious hideaways for celebrities and discriminating travelers. A favorite among Southern California locals, the property is well known for its standard of privacy and rustic California charm.
Fun Facts about the Ranch:
- The San Ysidro Ranch was named by the Franciscan monks who first occupied the land to pay homage to Saint Isidore. This name was fitting, as Saint Isidrore is the patron saint of farmers and agriculture. Often depicted with a plow, angel, and oxen, Saint Isidore remains a critical part of the Ranch’s history as the main restaurant is named “The Plow and Angel.”
- From Vivien Leigh to Gwyneth Paltrow, San Ysidro Ranch is the venue of choice for celebrity weddings. The intimate hideaway is private and serene with stunning views of the mountains and Pacific Ocean.
- By 1912, the Ranch had become well known enough to host Winston Churchill and his family for the winter months, making such an impression upon Churchill that he boasted of his experience, stating that “It is difficult for one used to our Eastern climate to imagine a more delightful situation.”
- The Ranch is dog friendly, and even offers a host of dog activities ranging from pet massages to a special room-service Pet Menu. Pet beds are placed in the room for you to enjoy while staying at the Ranch.
- After their lavish East Coast wedding in 1953, John and Jacqueline Kennedy choose the Ranch for their honeymoon. There is even a Kennedy Cottage: The Cottage is 2,000 square feet with a gated entrance that opens onto a large beautifully landscaped courtyard. Elegant furnishings provide the backdrop for this enchanting and romantic hand-carved stone cottage. It features two master suites with four-poster canopy king size beds, Italian linens, polished oak floors, Persian rugs, fireplaces and huge private bathrooms that feature a complete array of Bvlgari amenities. French doors open onto the Ranch’s largest private deck overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands. The upper level of the deck holds an outdoor rain shower and sunken hot tub. The Cottage also offers adjacent private parking and is available for $4000.00 – $4500.00 a night. (Check me in!)
- John Huston completed the script for “African Queen” during a three-month stay.
- Entrepreneur, Ty Warner, of “Beanie Babies” fame, acquired the Ranch and made it part of the exclusive collection of Ty Warner Hotels & Resorts, LLC.
- The “Old Adobe” which sits in the center of the property is a California Historical Landmark and by all counts remains one of the most unique private dining rooms on the West Coast today.
- The numerous famous guests over the years range from Audrey Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Bing Crosby and Groucho Marx.
- There are 17 miles of spectacular hiking trails. They also have bikes available for a ride down to Butterfly Beach.
- According to legend, San Ysidro (Spanish for Saint Isadore), the patron saint of Madrid, was such a kind and caring shepherd that the Lord sent a guardian angel to watch over his flock while he tended to the sick and needy. It is this example of selfless service that inspires the hospitality of the resort to this day.
Explore the San Ysidro Ranch today.