San Ysidro Ranch: Ultimate Santa Barbara
With its mountains-meet-the sea scenery, exotic vegetation, and almost permanent blue skies, Santa Barbara is one of California’s most beautiful cities. Added to the beauty are the relaxed, friendly locals, the wines of the Santa Ynez Valley, and one of the most dynamic food scenes in the world, all only two hours’ drive northwest of Los Angeles along the famous Pacific Coast Highway.
San Ysidro Ranch is Santa Barbara in miniature, the best of coastal California embodied in one spectacular, and spectacularly exclusive, resort. The oh so discreet San Ysidro Ranch is a series of cottages set on a lush hillside where views of the Pacific Ocean only distract temporarily from the neatly manicured grounds of the Ranch, which extend over more than 500 acres. Located in Montecito, one of the most expensive residential neighbourhoods in the world where large properties owned by the rich and famous are discreetly hidden behind walls of greenery, San Ysidro Ranch is too owned by one of these luminaries, namely Ty Warner, inventor of Beanie Babies turned hotel mogul and himself a Santa Barbara resident.
The cottages are, of course, beautifully decorated in a simple but eclectic California style to make each one feel like a private bungalow that comes with full service and satisfaction of every need with a simple phone call. The 41 cottages, which are configured as studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units culminating in the spacious Kennedy and Ty Warner Cottages, come with private patios, some with ocean views, as well as soothing hot tubs in private courtyards. Unusually, guests can park their Bentleys right in front of their cottages to further advance the feeling of being at home.
Being at home is the principal pastime for many guests at San Ysidro Ranch who never want to leave the cottages. In that case, they find the state of the art curved televisions and selection of television programs, films, and radios stations from around the world (including Australia) to be entertainment enough when not reading one of the classic novels on the shelves or allowing themselves to be mesmerised by the view complemented by the aromatic scents of lavender, oranges, and lemons drifting over the landscape.
Santa Barbara’s food scene is a major attraction for guests from across the world wanting to enjoy farm-to-table products prepared with imaginative expertise by local chefs, among them Matt Johnson, Executive Chef at The Stonehouse, San Ysidro Ranch’s outstanding restaurant. Fewer than 100 restaurants in the entire world are accorded the status of Wine Spectator Magazine’s Grand Award; The Stonehouse is one of them, and has been for three years running.
As would be expected, San Ysidro Ranch’s spa carries the cosmic mantra of relaxation right into the body via the experienced hands of spa therapists administering a variety of appealing treatments to take guest relaxation to a higher level, perhaps with the appropriately named Nirvana massage. The spa here is the only one in the state of California to use the exclusive Valmont range of anti-ageing spa products imported from Switzerland.
A car is essential to reach San Ysidro Ranch and appreciate the best of Santa Barbara. Visitors flying into LAX or SFO can hire an appropriately luxurious car from Fast Toys Club, a private club for automobile enthusiasts that allows daily, weekly, and monthly rentals of vehicles from a fleet which includes such marques as Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Aston Martin, and Rolls-Royce.