Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine

Santa Barbara Dreaming



or three months during the winter of 1912-13,

Winston Churchill, then 38 and having recently

been named First Lord of the Admiralty, found

himself — surprisingly — not greatly involved in

affairs of state. Instead, the iconic British leader sank

head first into the California lifestyle. Still 40 years

removed from his 1953 Nobel Prize in Literature,

Churchill waxed poetic about his stay at San Ysidro

Ranch: "The mountains, scored by deep canyons," he

wrote, "rise up behind, for all the world like grand-

opera scenery idealized, and far below, across the

green plains of Montecito, one sees the white line of

the beach and the Pacific stretching westward to blue

islands shimmering in the haze." He would return

16 years later in the fall of 1929 after visiting with

publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst in San

Francisco to engage, Hemingway-style, in bill fishing

off the coast of nearby Catalina Island.

The former British prime minister wasn't the first

public figure, and he certainly won't be the last, to grace

this former 500-acre citrus farm nestled in the lush

foothills of Montecito. Originally named in 1769 by

the King of Spain, San Ysidro Ranch has housed a long

line of discerning guests: Vivien Leigh and Sir Laurence

Olivier exchanged wedding vows here in 1940; John

and Jackie Kennedy choose it for their honeymoon in

1953; and Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Jean Harlow

and Gloria Swanson all came for seclusion, ocean

breezes and pampered luxury during their heydays.

In 2003, Ty Warner purchased the Rosewood

Resort and promptly sunk a B-list blockbuster

fortune ($150 million) into upgrades. Sandstone was

brought from a local quarry to complete the final

touches on the Stonehouse Restaurant, and the 40

guest cottages received makeovers — most notably

the Kennedy Cottage (1,800 sq. ft.; $2,990/night)

and Warner Cottage (2,200 sq. ft.; $3,990/night).

A new generation of political and Hollywood

star-power has taken note. In September of this

year, Oprah Winfrey made her nearby $64 million

mansion the setting for a highly publicized fundraiser

for U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Winfrey recommended San Ysidro Ranch to her

out-of-town guests, who included George Clooney,

Halle Berry, Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles, David

Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg, among others. With

its legendary history, fragrant gardens, and discreet

high-end service, the property is an ideal year-round

wine country getaway.


Forty individually appointed cottages are situated

along San Ysidro Creek on the eastern side of the

property and treed-lined paths to the west. All feature

sunken hot tubs on private patios with outdoor rain

showers, floor-to-ceiling windowed French doors,

plasma televisions, distinctive antiques, original

artwork, and fireplaces made of hand-cut stone or

classic masonry. Refined touches include Pratesi fine

linens, European down pillows and hand-stitched

French quilts. Bathrooms are tastefully appointed

with radiant-heated floors, Acqua Di Parma bath

amenities, Votive candles and fresh floral bouquets.

TIP: Book a cottage along the creek. The Lavender

($1,228), Wisteria ($1,782), Willow ($1,661), Daisy

($639) and Iris ($900) are all within earshot of the

babbling brook.

FYI: Outside hot tubs are wonderful, but at night

we heard the shuffling of footsteps outside our gate

... raccoon or groundskeeper?


The Stonehouse Restaurant has returned to its

gourmet origins under the guidance of executive


Home  |   Where To Find Us  |   Advertising  |   Privacy Policy  |   Site Map  |   Purchase Photos  |   About Us

Click here to go to the NEW Washington Life Magazine