San Ysidro Ranch, a little slice of heaven
Last Thursday we flew to Santa Barbara for a friend’s wedding. Foodie Baby came along for the trip, complete with navy sport coat and suede bucks to wear to the wedding. The wedding was at San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito so that’s where we stayed. And let me tell you, people, this place has earned every bit of its moniker as the number four hotel in the world (Travel and Leisure T+L 500: World’s Best 2011).
John and Jackie Kennedy spent their honeymoon at “The Ranch” and Vivien Leigh and Sir Lawrence Olivier got hitched in the gardens (as did my friends Kate and Seth!) so it’s obviously kind of a big deal. If I had to describe “Orange”, my two-bedroom cottage overlooking the garden and Montecito hills in three words, I would say: “heaven on earth”.
Seriously, this place was AH-MAZING! If Orange had a washer and dryer and kitchen, I might have nailed my feet to the ground and refused to leave! Wait, maybe part of the reason I loved it was because it DIDN’T have a washer and dryer or kitchen.
Let me set the scene for you: After winding through the hills of Montecito, we pulled into the “Hacienda” in our Mercedes convertible with our hair tied back in beautiful scarves and huge Tom Ford celeb shades on just like the celebrities we are. Actually, that’s a complete lie. That’s how I imagined our arrival, but what really happened was way grosser. We rented a Ford Flex (if you aren’t familiar, a Ford Flex looks like an old school Wagoneer except instead of wood, the siding is silver, and instead of being cool and retro, it’s ugly and nerdy) and could barely fit all the luggage/car seat/stroller/toys I packed inside of it. Then we barreled into 5:00 traffic on the 101 and crept along the highway for 30 minutes while Foodie Baby cried and we all sang Itsy Bitsy Spider to try to calm him…badly…and unsuccessfully because it turned out FB was crying in exasperation due to the impending end of a wicked bout of constipation. I think we are all seeing where this is going, aren’t we?
We pulled into The Ranch in our stuffed like a sausage, ugly as sin Ford Flex just as my mom discovered that FB had dropped the world’s biggest bomb over Baghdad ever, and it was all over him and his car seat. (In the Foodie family, we refer to dirty diapers as bombs…leaky dirty diapers are Bombs Over Baghdad…and if you don’t have kids, this is where you decide you are NEVER reading my blog again…sorry. Kids are gross sometimes and the code names were invented to prevent other restaurant goers from being totally grossed out when we had to make emergency diaper changes, so you’re welcome!) Point being, instead of coolly pulling into the #4 hotel in the world with Tom Fords and a Mercedes, we apologetically parked and said a quick hello to the parents of the bride (all the while warning them to keep their distance) and then began the process of wiping down FB and his car seat much to the dismay of our fellow guests and Ranch employees. Smooooooooth.
Once we made it to the Orange cottage, however, all of those embarrassments were just minor bumps in the road. The weather in Montecito was simply perfect, and the Orange Cottage was magnificent! We walked up a small stairway to Orange’s front patio with a breakfast table and lounge chairs situated outside that overlooked the grove of orange trees that surrounded the garden.
And if I wasn’t already committed to staying in Orange forever, there was a wooden sign to the left of the door that had our last name on it. Inside, the staff had set up a crib for FB, complete with a beanie baby (The Ranch is owned by infamous beanie baby founder, Ty Warner) and a sweet barefoot dreams hoodie that matched the amazingly soft robes that were in the bathroom. Orange is a two-bedroom cottage with a living room in between, and both bedrooms had private back patios with…wait for it…OUTDOOR SHOWERS! I didn’t take a shower inside all weekend! I enjoyed the wonderful weather and showered outside, just like God intended. Our half of the patio also had a hot tub that FB enjoyed thoroughly. The Ranch also has a pool (with a baby pool) just up the road from Orange. The pool area has a small indoor/outdoor fitness facility that looked nice (but I didn’t use) and a cooler with Evian water. I LOVE it when hotels give you free bottles of water. There was also a sunscreen and pool toy area, which I also appreciate.
Oh! I almost forgot! They also spelled out FB’s name with sponges next to the bathtub and included a travel pack of Johnson’s products. I love it when hotels think to include baby toiletries!
We got ready for dinner at the Stone House, which is by the Hacienda. We sat outside and brought FB even though it was about 2 hours past his bedtime with the time zone change. He was his usual, vocal self but the staff and patrons didn’t seem to mind at all. They brought FB a high chair and he happily ate ciabatta and some kind of delicious Parmesan cracker until my mom decided to take him upstairs so that the rest of us could talk and drink wine without FB’s intervention! (I know, best Grandma EVER!) Before we left, a stranger at another table held FB and told my mom he was sorry he didn’t do more to entertain FB while he was at the table. Could a restaurant get any MORE kid friendly? Wow!
I had an amazing dinner that I took exactly ZERO pictures of before I scarfed it down. Oops. I started with crispy artichoke (which was a roasted artichoke literally cut in half) with aioli and arugula salad. For a main course I had salmon and stole almost all of the crack-like mashed potatoes that came with my husband’s braised short ribs. This was after I ate a few baby back ribs, coleslaw, roasted brussel sprouts and a few baskets of bread. Because I’m super health conscious (meaning my skinny jeans were about to rip at the seams) I passed on dessert.
The next morning, I went on a 5 mile “waterfall” hike with my friend Annie. I put waterfall in quotes because it was more of a trickle of water than a fall of water, but the hike was really nice, and right next to our hotel. I heard rumors that the hiking trails had really bad poison oak, but I never saw any myself. I did, unfortunately, see a dead mouse. I almost bolted off the trail in a very un-outdoorswoman way, but I recovered and walked (sprinted and screamed) past the deceased rodent.
All in all, the San Ysidro Ranch was amazing. I think it was probably the nicest place I’ve ever stayed. There was plenty to do (we really didn’t need to leave the property) and it appealed to people of all ages. They were welcoming to FB and he loved his barefoot dreams hoodie and beanie baby. I’m already ready to go back…
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