At least half of the historic San Ysidro Ranch, a luxury hotel and resort situated in the Montecito foothills, was obliterated by Tuesday morning’s deadly mudslides, parts of it levelled by a ruptured high-pressure gas line. The explosion and debris flow destroyed multiple buildings and demolished part of nearby Casa de Maria, a retreat center on El Bosque Road.
Approximately a quarter of the remaining San Ysidro Ranch property was caked in mud, and the other quarter was relatively and remarkably undamaged. Some of the resort’s more historic buildings ― including the Kennedy Cottage, where John and Jackie Kennedy stayed during their honeymoon in 1953, as well as a handful of old adobe structures ― were spared.
No deaths or injuries were reported, as the 100-person ranch staff had fully evacuated Monday evening, hours before disaster struck. Workers had cleared out by 6 p.m. with the last manager leaving shortly thereafter. Managers had also orchestrated heavy preparations in the days before, clearing drains, piling sandbags, and boarding windows and doors. County and California Department of Correction workers in the area were seen clearing creek beds and removing drainage debris throughout the day Monday.
Spanning 500 manicured acres with broad views of the Pacific Ocean, the San Ysidro Ranch ― currently owned by Beanie Baby mogul Ty Warner ― consists of 41 cottages and suites, multiple wedding venues, and award-winning restaurants. It’s a popular destination for politicians, celebrities, and royalty, and was recently named “World’s #1 Resort” by Forbes Traveller. The ranch was originally part of a 1769 land grant by Charles III of Spain, served as a sanctuary for Franciscan monks before becoming a citrus operation and then eventually a hotel.
The property was very narrowly saved during the Thomas Fire and had planned to reopen this week. Warner has already reportedly expressed a desire to rebuild.