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“Amazing way to spend the week.”

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Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort
Ranked #4 of 11 Hotels in Solvang
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 20 July 2010

Great people, great food and fabulous horses. The scenery is breathtaking. Warm days and cool evenings. A great place for you all to connect.

Stayed: July 2010, travelled with family
Thank Ruth Ann E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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205 - 211 of 248 reviews

Reviewed 19 July 2010

I have stayed at the Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort a handful of times, always at the behest of my parents and kids. The place is unique for Southern CA, a true working horse and cattle ranch, with beautiful views, nicely kept up greens and vegetation, with a terrific breakfast. The other charm of the ranch is Christmastime, when Santa comes and visits with the children.

The problem with this place, and the reason my family will stop visiting after the family kids no longer believe in Santa Claus are as follows:

1. the outdated rooms and bathrooms... while clean they have an outdated "motel" feel. The bath tub/ showers are probably nicer in many bargain motel/ hotels too.

2. The high cost of all the activities, whether horseback riding, golf, fishing, etc.

3. The kids craft room not having as many or varied unique crafts, short hours, nor baby-sitting

4. The pool, though pretty, every stay it has been unheated, had no outdoor service from the restaurant, and really, I think the place should invest in a water slide and/ or lazy river. There is also only one spa on the grounds and it is often "hogged up" by a family unit, or adults who are perhaps enjoying the booze too much to want kids around them, or on the other hand, obnoxious kids who adults don't want to share the one and only spa with.

5. The main dining hall... although we have always had great service here, this last year some of the meat was not great cuts, and for a ranch with cattle, it would seem a good cut of steak should be a must.

6. The overall price

Overall the Alisal Ranch is unique for the area. The service is usually good, and the place it kept clean. But in the years to come when the kids are older... HELLO Islands, Cruise ships, or guest ranches outside of CA.

  • Stayed: December 2009, travelled with family
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3  Thank PamelaSue_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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
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Thank ericdoctorow
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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
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2  Thank SanClementeMom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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
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Thank Freakyfigs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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
6  Thank smkplay
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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
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1  Thank malibugypsy
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

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: £263 - £637 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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