Montecito – the San Ysidro Ranch

Now to film lovers this place was on the map well before the recent arrival of Harry and Megan.

Back in the early thirties film actor Ronald Colman the legendary film actor along with his Business Partner Al Weingand purchased the San Y Sydro Ranch in Montecito which was a hotel complex set in extensive grounds which had individual bungalows set in there. It became very popular with the Stars and anyone famous – and it was seen to be – and was – very upmarket.

It is still marketed as one of the the finest hotels in the World

Gardens and a guest bungalow at the San Ysidro Ranch

Verdant gardens, groves of olive and citrus trees, and an array of California guest bungalows distinguish the San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara, California. A couple of years ago it was restored following mudslides exacerbated by the Thomas Fire at that time

Just prior to purchasing San Ysidro Ronald Colman and Al Weingand had visited and inspected the vast site and found it to be in pretty good shape although maybe in need of some renovation


  • 1925 – Sam Goldwyn brings Ronald Colman to Hollywood.
  • 1927 – 1935 – 2092 MOUND STREET – HOLLYWOOD HILLS – Colman bought his first home, a Spanish – style, patioed house with a tennis court. It was on a winding road and secluded behind walls and gardens.
  • 1929 – 1935 – In 1929 he leased a small beach cottage in Malibu. It was near Warner Baxter’s beach house. Colman sold it in 1935.
  • 1935 – 1953 – 1003 SUMMIT DRIVE
  • In 1935 Colman and hotel manager, Al Weingard decided to get into the hotel business and had been shopping around for the perfect property when they heard about the 525 acre property south of Santa Barbara and nestled against the coastal mountain range. It even had it’s own beach facilities several miles away.
    • The ranch had been turned into a vacation resort in 1895 and private cottages were scattered around the grounds. Colman and Weingard toured the property and found it in better shape than they had expected. Though some minor repairs were needed, both men agreed that it was what they were looking for.
    • The Colman’s property, which they called “VERBOIS” and their house was set apart from the guest cottages,and had a private drive way. Overlooking the house was a barn and garage.
    • At the time Ronald Colman and actress Benita Hume and been together for four years. They would later get married at the ranch.
    • In the beginning Ronnie and Benita used the ranch for weekend get aways and vacations while they continued to use the Summit Drive house as their full time residence.
    • In 1942 “VERBOIS” was renamed “Random House” after one of Colman’s films.
    • In 1953 they sold the Summit Drive mansion and made the ranch their permanent home.
    • On May 19, 1958 Ronald Colman passed away. He is buried in Santa Barbara Cemetery.
San Ysidro

Several weeks later Benita sold the ranch and moved back to England. She later married actor George Sanders. They remained together until her death in 1967 from bone cancer.

San Ysidro Rach, ca. 1900

The San Ysidro Ranch, located high in the Montecito hills, is today one of the area’s most exclusive resorts. It boasts a history that may be traced back to the earliest days of Santa Barbara.

San Ysidro was a working ranch throughout the 1800s.

The Johnston family sold the ranch to Ronald Colman and Alvin Weingand for $50,000 in 1935.Al Weingand was an experienced hotelier. Ronald Colman’s connections and Weingand’s managerial skills combined to produce the ranch’s most famous and elegant period.

San Ysidro soon became a favourite hideaway for the members of California’s film colony. William Powell, Jean Harlow, Audrey Hepburn, Jack Benny, Fred Astaire, and Bing Crosby were just a few of the guests. John Huston sought out the tranquil peace of the ranch to finish the script for The African Queen. Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh married here in 1940; John and Jacqueline Kennedy honeymooned here in 1953. Discretion was an iron rule at San Ysidro.

Ronald Colman died in 1958, and Al Weingand carried on alone. A lifelong Democrat, he became deeply involved in California state politics and was a member of the state legislature for six years. He found juggling the demands of a political career and managing the ranch too difficult, and he sold the ranch in 1965. Financial troubles and litigation followed until the ranch was sold to James Lavenson in 1976, who restored it to its former glory.

Ty Warner bought the ranch in 2000. It continues to enjoy a glittering reputation for its natural beauty, its impeccable accommodations, and its wonderful cuisine. It is still a destination for many Hollywood film people who need to get away from it all.

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