The BLLA Team sits down with The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort, Runner-Up for the Best Boutique Hotel of 2021 Under 100 Rooms Award!
Hear what Kathleen Cochran, The Alisal’s General Manager, has to say!
BLLA: What is your hotel’s mission statement?
KC: “A welcoming home to the natural way of life and living, The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort offers 73 private luxury guest cottages and suites, more than 50 miles of horseback riding trails, two 18-hole championship golf courses, a 6,500-square-foot spa and fitness center, six tennis courts and a 100-acre spring-fed lake with water sports, including fly fishing, canoeing and kayaking. Since our founding in 1946, we’ve had three traditions held steadfast:
“#1 DINNER JACKETS: In The Alisal’s dining room, men are required to wear jackets. Though you might think a ranch wouldn’t care for cleaning up, this tradition extends back to The Alisal’s cowboy days.
“#2 MINIMAL TECHNOLOGY: We prioritize a pastoral way of life where we can, which is why you won’t find telephones, TVs, mini-bars, or traditional room service on the ranch — though we’ll always bring you dinner if requested. This is one of the many ways we create that feeling of “rustic elegance” unique to Alisal.
“#3 FAMILY & GUEST REUNIONS: Longtime guests (some of whom have been visiting Alisal since the 1950s and ’60s) appreciate the comfort of consistency that comes with the tradition of an annual visit to The Alisal. This may include staying in the same room each year, dining at the same table, and catching up with fellow guests who stay at The Alisal during the same time each year. Rather than changing with every trend, we hold tight to the experiences that make The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort a special place for so many guests.”
BLLA: How do you stay authentic to the boutique essence?
KC: “’Boutique” implies unique, and it is core to our operation that we keep the unique heritage of The Alisal alive. A big part of that rich heritage is our connection to the golden state of California. The Golden State has always inspired pioneers, tastemakers, and heroes of the imagination, and The Alisal aims to foster those ideals under our starlit nights, among our rolling hills, and surrounded by infinite horizons.
“Imperative to the spirit of The Alisal is the absence of technology that can distract from The Alisal’s magnificent landscapes, activities, and awakening experiences. To enhance a tech-free boutique experience, we serve a traditional dinner in The Ranch Room dating back to the opening of the ranch in 1946. We also serve traditional Santa Maria-style barbecue using fresh, local ingredients. As an operating western dude ranch, our horseback programs are a big part of that boutique essence, keeping us true to our rituals and roots. As a boutique operation, every detail is carefully preserved by a team of passionate people who believe in the power of nature, respite and tradition.”
BLLA: How does your team operate as a family?
KC: “We operate as a family by maintaining a symbiotic environment, meaning, one task is not one person’s responsibility – it’s everyone’s. We work together to make every guest’s stay a memorable one, and we keep very high standards to create a magical, renewing experience time and time again.”
BLLA: Why does your hotel and team believe in the boutique movement?
KC: “We believe there’s no one-size-fits-all vacation, so we’ve maintained a niche resort inspired by the ranch heritage and traditions that create a unique experience to our guests who came to The Alisal looking for something different, unforgettable and filled with infinite possibilities. Like the craft cocktail movement, the boutique movement raises the standards of excellence for everyone, so we are thrilled to be a part of it.”