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“5 star location and concept, 3 star rooms & service”

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Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort
Ranked #4 of 10 Hotels in Solvang
Certificate of Excellence
Santa Monica, CA
Level Contributor
28 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 116 helpful votes
“5 star location and concept, 3 star rooms & service”
Reviewed 29 May 2011

The Alisal is a frustrating mixture of great and crappy. If you are a discerning traveller, read on and you should get a good feel for which end of the spectrum will stand out for you.

The Great - Location is really magnificent. Bucolic and lush. From the lodge area to the trailrides to the lake, this place just feels good. It is all about the activities here, so the horseback riding, fishing, paddle-boating, archery, etc. get you out into the gorgeous scenery. Enjoy.

The Crappy - You don't come here for the rooms. I'm just going to lay it out there. The bathrooms are basic. They function and they are clean, but they aren't attractive or even inviting. The littl lodge rooms themselves, again, are functional. There is a romantic ambiance of being in an outdoorsy cabin that I love, but drawbacks that are inexcusable for a $650+/nt experience - which is the minimum you'll pay once all of the taxes and activities are thrown in. The fireplaces don't draw well at all, so even I, who grew up with wood buring fireplaces and love the smell, was overwhelmed within 15 minutes. It wasn't windy. They just don't function well. And once the smoke fills a room, everything smells like smoke until it gets washed. The sheets, your clothes, etc. We tried every night to no avail. Even before we started, the room had a permanent smoky smell that I found nice, but my wife found just a bit over the edge of unpleasant. The furniture just needs an update. Nothing more to say here. It just looks old. A bit beyond rustic. Again, not terrible, but ridiculous for that much money. The food quality was disturbing. It was basic. That's it. Do not expect fine dining. It is, quite honestly, about on par with an outback steakhouse, but far more limited in terms of selection. Not terrible, but again, how much are we paying here?? Final note is that I found the staff unpleasant. I won;t get into details, but the front desk staff was not helpful or nice.

So, if you are going because you and your wife/husband are St. Regis and Four Seasons afficionados who want to try something a bit more active and fun, be aware that there is a trade-off. You'll find the activities great. you'll love the location, and you'll love the idea of what you are doing. But if you MUST go in with ZERO expectations of the rooms. They'll look nice when you walk up, romantically appealling when you open the door, and like a Hampton Inn when you see the bathroom, or that disappointing bed and breakfast you stayed in 10 years ago when you see the furniture. You also may not be able to take advantage of the fireplace, which is a major drawback. And be prepared for food that is basic. You'll feel ripped off by the price if you focus on the room and food. You'll feel okay if you actually plan to take advantage of many of the activities and re-program yourself to look at the "rustic" nature of your accomodation and food as part of the ambiance. If you have young kids, the place is nice. You just want them to be active, happy, and full at mealtime. This place will do that, for sure.

  • Stayed May 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
10 Thank pharmanuke
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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216 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (75)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Any
English first
Bonita, California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 6 April 2011

It was a memorable vacation many years ago, with my husband and children. They
felt they had the freedom to do many things (safely) on their own, while we were free
to engage in our own activities in a beautiful setting. This is the reason I now want
to take my grandchildren, who would be the same age my children were, so they can
experience the beauty and fun at the Ranch.
NOTE: ABOVE DATE OF STAY IS NOT CORRECT, BUT YOU DID NOT GIVE ME THE
CHOICE TO ENTER THE ACTUAL DATE.

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank vickirosas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Paso Robles, California
Level Contributor
47 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 March 2011

We took our 2 teenagers and their friends and got a cottage with adjoining rooms,,,they had their privacy,,and we ours but we could still keep an eye on them. The rooms are super comfy and they provide firewood which adds to the great western ambience. The horse rides were the highlight. The surrounding scenery is gorgeous.
Dressing up for dinner every night was wonderful,,,the boys felt spiffy and we got lots of great family time and pictures. The fishing was great and the boys really enjoyed the petting zoo!!

  • Stayed April 2010, travelled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank Gigi1998
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Solana Beach, California
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 February 2011

It amazes me to read anything remotely negative about The Alisal, it's as if they are insulting my closest family members. To come to the Alisal is to embrace nature, ranch living, the outdoors, etc. Surrounded by green, rolling hills lined with Oak trees and grazing cattle, I can't imagine needing or wanting cell phone service.

The Alisal will never need publicity but I am blessed to have grown up visiting the Alisal, and can't wait to pass the tradition on for years to come.

  • Stayed February 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank richterradical
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 January 2011

We have traveled to Alisal for the last several years with our extended family, with ages ranging from age 1 to 94. We all love it so much, and look forward to returning each year. It's not cheap! However, the enormous, delicious breakfast and dinner is included in the price - you don't even need lunch between those giant meals. Also, we go there in the winter when the activities are included in the price, instead of coming at an additional cost.

The staff are very gracious and helpful. I sort of expect that from the hotel and restaurant staff, but am pleasantly surprised each year at the wranglers and barn staff. I've been around a fair few cowboys and customer service isn't usually their strong point! Here, though, they are courteous and friendly. They also take great care of their animals, and insist that you do as well, which I appreciate.

For my toddler there's a lead-around horse to ride, all sorts of animals to pet and brush (from rats to parakeets to mini-cows). There's no TV or telephones, and I get terrible cell access there (AT&T) so it truly is a break from technology as well.

  • Stayed January 2011, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank rlt_losangeles
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Diego, California
Level Contributor
22 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 October 2010

We only stayed two nights, but we think this is a great spot for families. This ranch has lots to do and we enjoyed our morning horse ride. The meals (mod American plan) were good ant the food choices great. We stayed in a private cabin, but most are duplexes. It was roomy and basically furnished, but comfortable. We made an oak fire in the brick fireplace each morning. Bathroom had tub and separate shower, but no counter space and mirror only for persons under five feet eight inches. The pool is nice and we saw kids having fun there, on horses, and on the big lawns. Its location made for easy trips to Solvang, the Mission Santa Ines, and wine tasting in the Santa Ynez valley. There was no TV or phone, but if you needed a TV fix, there were a few in common rooms like the library.

  • Stayed October 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank DonDiego4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Southern California
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 August 2010

We have taken our children and grandchildren to the Alisal for each of the last 16 years! Ask any one of them if they would like to give up going next year. The answer is a quick and definite "no." They love this place! Two grandchildren are in college now and they still choose to come to this special gathering in this special place.

There is something for everyone at the Alisal -- fishing, petting farm, horseback riding, archery, air rifle, swimming, golf, tennis, ropes course, massage, and a host of planned children's activities for all ages. Our grandchildren have fed and milked the goats and gathered eggs in the henhouse. Our sons catch and release 20 to 50 bass on the lake in the early morning. The family rides to the Old Adobe for breakfast. The breakfast is well worth the ride (by horse or by haywagon) --- the pancakes are the gold standard for all pancakes and the rustic buffet has lots of choices for all tastes. Guitar music rounds it out.

This has been a great place for family bonding. What is particularly nice is that we have rooms together but each part of the family has their own quarters. There are fireplaces in each room which are enjoyed both in the morning and in the evening. We gather in the living room of one room for putting a puzzle together, having a glass of wine, playing a new game or just catching up with what our families are doing.

Yes, this is not an inexpensive vacation for an entire family, but it has been well-worth the money each year to spend family time together in this gorgeous location with so many activities for every age. We made our reservation for next year at check-out so that we can have the same rooms and the same time.

  • Stayed August 2010, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Traveltoseeworld
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort

Property: Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort
Address: 1054 Alisal Rd, Solvang, CA 93463-3033
Region: United States > California > Solvang
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Business Hotel in Solvang
#1 Family Hotel in Solvang
#3 Spa Hotel in Solvang
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:4 star — Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 73
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort is located in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley and renowned Santa Barbara County wine country. Privately owned and operated since 1946, the Alisal is a working cattle ranch and full-service resort. This historic ranch is one of four original Spanish land grants on the west coast given to conquistador Raimundo Carrillo in the late 1700’s. Today, the romance and majesty of the old west remain in the wide-open spaces and unspoiled natural beauty of the Alisal. They serve as a reminder of simpler times and as an invitation to those with a taste for adventure. As California's premier guest ranch, the Alisal transports guests back to a bygone era. Set on a 10,000-acre working cattle ranch, this one-of-a-kind resort blends the best of nature with exceptional golf, horseback riding, tennis, fishing on a 100-acre private lake, fitness center and spa, children's activities, barnyard activities and fine dining. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Alisal Guest Ranch And Resort
Alisal Guest Ranch Hotel Solvang
Alisal Hotel Solvang
Alisal Resort Solvang
Alisal Ranch Solvang
The Alisal Guest Ranch

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