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Once upon a time, in a land far, far, away, sat a magic castle atop a hill, surrounded by lush gardens and filled with art, music, and all manner of fanciful gadgets. In the center of the castle, a circular staircase wound up and around, climbing higher and higher to the very tip-top. In this tower was a special room, with windows all around, where the king and queen who lived in the castle could sit and look out at their grounds, and at the valley and towns in the distance.

I visited this enchanted castle last week, in the not-so-faraway land of Solvang. I got to meet the king and queen, have tea with them in their library, and hear their stories about building the castle and living happily in it for many years. The experience certainly felt like a fairytale, but the castle is real.

Villa del Sol is a beautiful home of more than 6000 square feet in the Regency Hills estates neighborhood between Solvang and Ballard in the Santa Ynez Valley. Set on over six and a half acres of land, Villa del Sol has five bedrooms and seven baths, plus a separate one-bedroom, one-bath guesthouse. The gardens have been designated a certified wildlife habitat, and the grounds provide room for a vineyard, or horses, or both. The king and queen are Dr. Allan Pacela and his lovely wife, Ramona, who built this gorgeous home 21 years ago to exacting detail.

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As I stepped into the foyer of the home, my gaze was drawn through the warm, inviting living room to the panoramic views beyond. Pillars framed the clean lines and neutral palette of the room itself, allowing me to drink in the view. The entire valley seemed to be laid out in front of us, almost like viewing the landscape of a model train village from afar.

Ramona took me on a tour of the house, from the tower to the garage, to the guesthouse, to the gardens. We toured both kitchens — yes, there are two — and all the bedrooms. I admired the art, poked in the closets, and soaked in the views, inside and out. Walking through Villa del Sol, my attention veered from the romantic luxury of the house to appreciation of the technical details of its craftsmanship embedded therein.

All of the bedrooms are suites, with sumptuous attached bathrooms and walk-in closets. One wing of the house contains three of the suites, each named and decorated differently, and each with its own carefully framed garden view. The master suite takes the cake. The bedroom has separate sleeping, sitting, and desk areas, all surrounding a three-sided marble fireplace in the center. The master bath has a stunning glass brick-walled shower and a deep cast-iron soaking tub, and leads to one of the most enviable walk-in closets I’ve ever seen. The bathroom opens outside to a private walled patio. I was in danger of being swept away by the romance of this self-contained boudoir when Ramona pointed out that the patio has been pre-plumbed with gas lines for a spa, should one be desired in the future.

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This thoughtful attention to detail brought me back to reality, and I started taking note of the many practical features of the house. Allan Pacela is an engineer and an inventor, and it shows in the details of Villa del Sol. The home was designed by noted area architect Don Pederson, but Allan’s stamp exists throughout. One example is the construction of the roof. While in the tower room, I had admired the home’s authentic red-tiled roof. It turns out that the true Spanish red tiles are supplemented by a complete additional roof system underneath. This exacting attention is replicated in every aspect of the home’s infrastructure. The artistry of Villa del Sol’s magical setting is matched by the technical wizardry throughout.

Dr. and Mrs. Pacela love their castle, but they are ready to say goodbye to Villa del Sol. They plan to downsize and move closer to their children and grandchildren. The castle awaits a lucky new owner to move in and create their own fairy-tale magic on top of the hill, and live happily ever after.

1015 Ladan Drive is for sale in Solvang, listed by Laura Drammer, Ashley Anderson, and Paul Hurst of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties. Reach Laura at (805) 448-7500 or Reach Ashley at (805) 618-8747 or Reach Paul at (805) 680-8216 or See more about the property at


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