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“A wonderful trip to a simpler time...friends, family and fun. Wonderful.” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort

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Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort
Ranked #5 of 10 Hotels in Solvang
Certificate of Excellence
malibu
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“A wonderful trip to a simpler time...friends, family and fun. Wonderful.”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 July 2010

There are times when you want a "state of the art" hotel with great room service and all the amenities. But if you want something simpler, that harkens back to the day when tvs and phones and room service were not necessary, but when friends and family and casualness and honesty was necessary...then The Alisal is it. It is a camp for kids and grownups. There is a feeling of warmth in the entire place. All the many service people only have one thing in mind...make your stay happy and carefree. The dining room is "old school"...adults wear jackets, but the food is amazing and the wine list has got it all. Swimming, boating, fishing, golf (two full golf courses), tennis, bike riding, horses, petting zoo, ping pong...if you cannot have fun here you cannot have fun. Throw away your fancy clothes and desire to impress people...no one cares here...all the guests here have travelled extensively, but keep coming back to The Alisal for one reason...it stays the same. It is like walking back in time. Kids are running all over the place laughing and playing frisbee and volleyball. Do not miss a chance to have a real vacation and really getting away from it all. The Alisal has something for everyone in the family...and if you are parents who want a little break...well, this is perfect because the kids can be entertained all the time, whether young or teenagers. Anyway, we have travelled all over the world and come back to The Alisal the same time every year for a stay always full of memories.

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank ericdoctorow
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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206 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (72)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Any
English first
Orange County
Level Contributor
35 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 June 2010

We visited Alisal for 4 nights for a family reunion. My seventy something year old parents sponsored the trip for their adult children and grandchildren, aged 1-15. We all had a wonderful time. It was like summer camp for everyone. There were lots of families there for reunions or groups of families on vacation together. Our family includes lots of horse buffs and a competitive cyclist who were all very happy there. There were huge lawns where the kids could play and the grandparents could sit and watch. Higjlights of our trip were1) the Saturday morning trail/hay ride to El Adobe Camp where they had a delicious breakfast waiting with cowboy songs in a beautiful setting and 2) the Saturday night poolside bbq held on the lawn next to the pool. The setting was as nice as an outdoor wedding reception with elaborate displays of food, live music, and dancing outside.

The grandkids all agreed that this was their favorite family vacation. We would love to visit again, but don't know if we would be able to afford it.

Here are the pros and cons of our trip.

Pros
-beautiful location with golf course, 250 acres, lake and 100 horses
-tons of activities: horsebackriding, golfing, tennis, fly fishing, boating, swimming pool, elaborate picnics, arts and crafts, small petting zoo, hiking, great cycling in the area
-terrific food at The Ranch Room,The River Grill, Saturday catered bbq, and the trail/hay ride picnic
-Close to Solvang
-The staff was very friendly and helpful

Cons
-Rooms are expensive (but do include breakfast and dinner)
-Most activities cost extra
-No A/C in the rooms (but it does cool down at night and there are fans)
-No tv in rooms (but you're hardly ever in your room)
-Chuckwagon Grill for lunch is NOT good (dry, expensive food)
-Lake night for the kids was cancelled when min. # people was not met.
-Teen night was not well planned and the teens found boring.
-Rooms aren't fancy and are on the small side.

  • Stayed June 2010, travelled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank SanClementeMom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Colorado
Level Contributor
63 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 June 2010

If you can afford this place, it's quite memorable. Traveled with teenagers and arrived at the time the ranch was transitioning to its summer schedule. This was not really well-explained, so activities that were mentioned in the summer schedule we were emailed/sent were not all applicable during our stay, like evening horseback rides, or off-grounds teen movies. We expected there to be more teens but soon realized that school in CA was not out yet, so very few kids around.

The food was excellent. Very decadent, tasty and plenty to go around. We all ate too much. The menu selection was impressive. Had to dress nicely for dinners which was not a problem.

The rooms are "rustic" with no frills. The toilet in our unit (#33) rocked on its base, and the shower adjustment was missing. The pillows are feather/down, can request hypoallergenic from the office. For the price, I would have expected a more modern layout in the bathroom at least. The beds were better than some I've slept in but had impressions/pits from previous residents.

The pool was wonderful. Clean, and the perfect temperature. It was nice that drinking water was provided at the pool, but they frequently ran out of cups. The Chuckwagon Grill had the worst food I've ever had. I do not recommend eating there, it was overpriced, and the salads were NOT FRESH. Lunch is not included in the room rate, but honestly after eating a big breakfast and big dinner, we skipped lunch most of the stay.

The horseback riding was great. The staffers did a good job matching riders with horses and the rides were nice. Be aware that the advertised 2 hour ride does include about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes of standing around while everyone gets mounted, so in reality, they're more like 1 -1.25 hours. There is much poison oak in the hills but the wranglers will point it out to avoid.

The lake is highly recommended. There are paddle boats and sail boats to rent, in addition to fly rods, casting rods, bait, and fishing boats. Everything has its price though, so it's very easy to end up surprised with a big bill at the end. $5 for earthworms/bait is a BIT STEEP!

I highly recommend the breakfast ride or taking the hayride to eat at the Adobe breakfast area. The atmosphere is superb, everyone was very content with the surroundings.

Sadly the age 6-10 kids' evening trip to the lake was canceled at the last minute, despite being on the daily schedule. Had younger nieces that were sorely disappointed. No explanation given by the staff. Just SORRY! Really sucked.

Little things like the bed turndown service in the evenings was nice. The fitness center is a welcome feature too. It's nice they keep the A/C on in the fitness room and provide TV entertainment while using machines.

You should know ahead of time that there are NO TVs in the rooms, no phones in the rooms either. Only Verizon cell phone service works at the Ranch and it's spotty at best.

All the staff were extremely helpful. Am sure they're well screened. The kids' arts & crafts room was a nice touch, so that kids can create drawings/crafts during the daytime. We never attended evening bingo games, or visited the on-site library. The kids could check out volleyballs for the volleyball court (grass). There is shuffleboard too.

The self-guided nature walk was HOT and DUSTY. Not much wildlife on the trail or visible during the hike.

My only major complains are the extreme cost, and the canceling of activities at the last minute or sending teens off early when the movie is not yet finished because I assume the staff wanted to be off duty. That was disappointing. I am amazed at the exorbitant cost, but do realize that the Ranch must require lots of staff and money to run.

  • Stayed June 2010, travelled with family
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Freakyfigs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Chico, California
Level Contributor
10 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 June 2010

So we spent a week at Alisal compliments of my parents. The whole family gathered with kids in tow for an expected week of fun horse back riding, fishing, great food, and other activities. If you are filthy rich then skip this review as cost will not be a factor for you.

The reality of this trip? Let's start by saying Alisal is beautiful, lots of land, 120+ horses, well manicured lawns, and gorgeous canyon views. That's the good part.......
Now let's discuss the money part.....expect to be charged for everything but the air you breathe. Horse lessons and rides? $55-$75 a pop per person. Boating, rifles, golf, bike rides all are extra. Lunch which was below par average $45-$50 for a family of 4. Unfortunately, save for the excellent breakfasts, much of the food was bland, and at times, not prepared to order. The dinner menus sounded terrific when we viewed them ahead of time and we anticipated what promised to be well-prepared gourmet foods. What we found more often than not was food that was standard and edible to be sure, but often coated in sauce or salt....I must say thought that breakfast did score some points with lots of fresh fruit and a buffet that was really good.

You would think that 5 days at the Alisal that ended up costing a family of four about $5,000 would include top notch service and food, but it leaves some space for improvement. We were also disappointed by the poor organized "planned" activities for the kids and the teens. Our kids looked forward to the scheduled lake night for kids (parents get the night off to enjoy each others company while the kids play and are fed a bbq dinner and smores at the lake). About three hours before the event we were told it was cancelled as it was mistakenly put on the schedule a week early.. We were offered a movie in the rec room and mac and cheese for the kids to compensate, and ended up just doing our regular family style dinner. My sister's teenage kids also attended a "teen night" movie only to have the movie stopped before it ended. It was 11:05 pm and although the activity was slated to last until 11:30, the kids were told they had to "lock up" and needed to leave.

The other major complaint was a lot of the staff were new and frequently contradicted each other about prices, what was covered, what was not, and what was occurring.
The horse riding was fun and our kids enjoyed the pool but for a place that charged us over $750.00 a day for just the lodging, which is suite sized but dated, you really should throw in some covered activities, in our opinion. Also, many people who come to Alisal are traveling in groups and tend to congregate (understandably) on the grounds during the evening hours. There is technically a 10 pm curfew for noise, but we found our fans came in handy for drowning out the incumbent noise.

Will we be returning? Not a chance! While we loved the scenery and felt the petting zoo was fun we could not get over feeling like we were extorted at every turn. In no way is 5 days at the Alisal worth $5,000. We will rent a place on the beach or take a cruise and still come out ahead next year. However, if you are an avid horse lover and do not mind exorbitant prices, it is a nice place to unwind.

Stayed June 2010, travelled with family
Helpful?
6 Thank smkplay
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
california
Level Contributor
13 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 April 2010

The Alisal was absolutely fantastic for my family. Too bad we can't live there all the time. It's old-fashioned fun- a round of constant activities if your kids feel like it, some scheduled, some just playing tag on the lawn while you wait for dinner. in the spring the grass was tall and we went riding, even my 7-year-old, and the horses were good and the cowboy took good care of him. Stunning scenery. I grew up on a California ranch and this is just what it was like. At night we all got together for musical chairs and it was fun!
O.K., the food...not so good. Just order the most basic thing, nothing exotic, like Italian- nothing even remotely gourmet. Stick to steaks and french toast, and bring your best suit because there's a dress code for dinner, even for the kids. But it was not stuffy at all.
Also, you'll need lots of different outfits for the different sports. But, really, one of my alltime favorite vacations. If you''re bored, Solvang is right there, or Santa Barbara, or Los Olivos. I hope it NEVER CHANGES.

  • Stayed April 2010, travelled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank malibugypsy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Los Angeles, CA
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 March 2010

The Alisal is a guest ranch and resort located in the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara county, CA. It is also a real working ranch with cattle, horses and lots of other animals.
The resort is mostly a family oriented property with many choices of recreation including golf, horse back riding, fishing, archery, swimming, and loads of activities geared to any age child.
My family has been coming here for nearly twenty years but many families have been coming for generations up to 40 or 50 years. This is a place where wonderful memories have been made for our family and our college age children still love it when we get to go back. I can hardly wait to share it with my own grandchildren.
The rooms are nicely appointed and yet still have the rustic feel of a horse ranch. The dining room has a different menu each night with several choices of intersting cuisine and fabulous desserts. All of the staff, from the front office, to the housekeepers, to the dining room, to the landscapers and the folks who supervise the children's programs are all very friendly, warm, and hospitable.
We come especially for the horse back riding. The staff at the barn are knowlegable and work hard to provide every rider, no matter their level of experience, with a beautiful trail ride. Rides are available twice a day.
I think the Alisal is the ultimate family vacation for any time of year, It is a place where you can do it all or nothing at all to have the perfect getaway. This place has a very special place in my heart and I will continue to go every opportunity I get.

  • Stayed March 2010, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank jothsway
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Monterey
Level Contributor
25 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 February 2010

I was prompted to write this review after reading a few of the negative reviews on this site. Let me say that I love the Alisal, and would hate to miss our yearly visit. The huge ranch and lake are spectacularly beautiful, and that along with the outstanding service is what makes this place so special. It is true, there are no phones in the rooms, cell phone reception is spotty, you are somewhat isolated, particularly in the "golf row" accommodations we prefer, and the staff does pamper the heck out of you - so where's the problem?? They run the Alisal like an old money, east coast, all inclusive resort where people come to get away and enjoy nature and the people they are traveling with. Family, children, good friends - whatever. The emphasis is on privacy and leisure activity.
Every year my husband and i meet our good friends at the Alisal for a very special weekend. We started going in June, but switched to February because golf, tennis and group rides are included in the room rate (Round Up package). Breakfasts have always been spectacular at the Alisal, and dinners vary depending on the chief, and management on hand that year. Never has the dinner been terrible, some years it has been like a good quality steak house, so I would concede that the dinner menu is not their strongest offering. However, we love having our designated table, only one seating per meal, and our special server who welcomes us back at every meal and makes us feel as though they are there only to serve us! Their wine list is very good, and they do have a sommelier who will discuss their outstanding Santa Barbara county wine selections.
Alisal isn't modern, the room decor is dated, and the bathrooms don't have the latest treatments, but it is very well maintained, clean, and very well done in a classic manner. I hope the critics for whom this destination doesn't suit just stay away, because I wouldn't change my Alisal for anything.

  • Stayed February 2009, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank RuthMonterey
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 South Alisal Road, Solvang, CA 93463
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
#4 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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