San Ysidro Ranch
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The San Ysidro Ranch is a luxury resort located in the Montecito foothills, at the foot of the Santa Ynez Mountain range. Originally deeded with the Presidio by Charles III of Spain, the San Ysidro Ranch exchanged hands, changing from a Mission farm, to a Citrus Ranch, to the hotel it is today. Acquired by Ty Warner in 2000, the Ranch underwent a massive remodel.
The San Ysidro Ranch was named by the Franciscan friars who first occupied the land in homage to Saint Isidore. This name was deemed fitting, as Saint Isidrore is the patron saint of Farmers and agriculture. Often depicted with a plow, angel and oxen, or holding a sickle as an angel plows for him, Saint Isidore remains a crucial part of Ranch history, as seen in the naming of the Restaurant “The Plow and Angel”.
Originally part of a land grant in 1769 by the Charles III of Spain, the Ranch was fully deeded with the Presidio in 1780, serving as a sanctuary for Franciscan friars in the late 1700s. In 1828 the Mission Padres built the Old Adobe and began to farm the land, until it passed through the hands of the mission to become part of the municipal land of the state of California in 1864.
After exchanging hands, the San Ysidro Ranch was sold to Harleigh Johnston and Taylor Goodrich in 1883, from Col. Bradbury Dinsmore.
The San Ysidro Citrus Ranch 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, later to become the Stonehouse restaurant.
In 1892, a ranch house was built that would become The Hacienda, and architectural plans were drawn up for a small hotel.
During this time the hotel expanded enough to accommodate moonlight tea parties and regular “Maid’s Night Out” Luncheons and Dinners. The fruit company remained a prominent part of the hotel, as Mrs. Harleigh Johnston’s Marmalade became famous amongst locals and guests alike.
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.”
However, due to the depletion of resources and means during the great depression, the Johnston’s sold the hotel to Hollywood actor Ronald Colman and hotelier and former Senator Alvin Carl Weingand. They quickly transformed it into a hospitality haven for celebrities; known for its idyllic setting, service and guarding of guest privacy. The famous guests over the years range from Audrey Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Bing Crosby and Groucho Marx to Winston Churchill, John Galsworthy, Somerset Maugham and Sinclair Lewis. Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier were married at the Ranch, John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline honeymooned there and John Huston completed the script for The African Queen during a three-month stay. Following Coleman's death in 1958 and the death of Weingand's first wife, Beverly, Senator Weingand's wife, Lou Hyland Weingand purchased their shares and became co-owner. In 1976, hoteliers, Jim and Susie Lavenson, purchased the Ranch from Weingand and sought to bring luxurious, rustic elegance to the then dilapidated resort. Jim Lavenson had been an advertising executive and president of New York City's Plaza Hotel, before buying the property.
Spanning over 500 acres (200 ha), today the San Ysidro Ranch includes 41 private cottages and suites. It is home to two restaurants, the Stonehouse and the Plow and Angel.
Awards and Accolades
Named “America’s Best Hotel” and “World’s #1 Resort” by Forbes Traveller and Travel & Leisure, respectively, the San Ysidro Ranch is regularly awarded the top spots on the prestigious lists of Conde Nast, Andrew Harper and others. Since 2014, Stonehouse has been the recipient of the Wine Spectator Grand Award.
- Boorstin, Sharon. 1980. "The San Ysidro Ranch. Hideaway in the Hills." Travel & Leisure, March.
- Hauptli, Jack. 1977. "Santa Barbara: Only for Millionares?" Seattle Times, May 24.
- Holcombe, Chet. 1977. "Fiscal Front. The Not So Needy Well Tended." Santa Barbara News-Press, July 24.
- Sousa, John Philip. 1976. "relaxed Seclusion is the Fashion at the San Ysidro Ranch." The San Diego Union. September 15.
- 1977. "San Ysidro Ranch a romantic Hideaway 2 Hours from L.A." Los Angeles Times, January 16.
- Hayden, Tyler (January 11, 2018). "Half of Historic San Ysidro Ranch Destroyed in Montecito Mudslide". Santa Barbara Independent. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
- Sahagun, Louis; Ryan, Harriet (January 13, 2018). "Death toll in Montecito mudslide rises to 19, while 101 Freeway will remain closed indefinitely". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
- "Stonehouse". Wine Spectator. 2015-01-01. Retrieved 2015-08-19.