The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort

The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort

Santa Barbara Wedding Venue

The Alisal: a Window into California History

LOOKING BACK TO 1810

The land is nestled in the Santa Ynez Valley bound by a river on the northeast and a coastal mountain range on the southwest. The range barricades the coastal flow, producing warm valley days and cool valley nights. The adjacent river and seasonal streams that cross this land abound with annual runs of 10-pound steelhead trout. The rolling hills are dotted with valley oaks and coastal live oaks, many of which will live up to 300 years. The verdant glens and riverbanks, shadowed by the mountain backdrop, support healthy groves of western sycamores. Deer graze cautiously, fearing mountain lions, bears, and coyotes. Original inhabitants used this land for hunting and for gathering acorns. A newly arrived people who came from across the ocean also saw the promise of this land. The original inhabitants called this land “Nojoqui.” The new arrivals know it by the name “Alisal” (meaning “grove of sycamores”).

THE JACKSON FAMILY: 1943-PRESENT

A century after Carrillo received the grant for Rancho Nojoqui, the Alisal was purchased by Charles Pete Jackson Jr., who expanded the reputation of the Alisal in an entirely new direction—hospitality. Originally designed solely as a working cattle ranch, manager Lynn Gilliam advised the family to convert the cattlemen’s quarters to guest rooms for dude ranch visitors. On July 16, 1946, the Alisal Guest Ranch was opened for summer seasons with a maximum capacity of 30 guests.

Since then, the Alisal has consistently ranked at the top of the country’s resorts and has been a playground for a number of notable guests. Clark Gable married Lady Silvia in the Alisal’s old library, and a prominent Hollywood magazine featured a front-page story on Doris Day while on one of her regular visits to the Alisal.

Though the Alisal today maintains a low profile, its focus on quality remains and its public reputation continues to grow. Celebrities are frequent guests, and the ranch welcomes visitors from the world over. Western-flavored hospitality remains, however: The cattlemen’s quarters that once fed grub to hungry cowboys is now a discriminating restaurant; deer can still be seen grazing cautiously, though these days it is often on the Alisal’s 18-hole golf courses; and horses and cattle roam grass-covered hills that have changed little since the days of the Spanish vaquero.

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