Digital Detox: Leave Annoying Technology in the Dust at the Supremely Relaxing Alisal Guest Ranch

Alisal Ranch

Deloitte has revealed that Americans look at their phones a collective 8 billion times a day. Individually, we look at them roughly 46 times per day. Emails, Tweets, cat videos, carefully curated Instagram photos… it’s easy to become stressed and isolated by our technology. Studies are finding social media is linked to increased rates of depression. Fortunately, there’s a remedy to our technological addiction and psychological distress: go outside!

Alisal Guest Ranch, in one of the most beautiful parts of California, is the perfect place to disconnect from artificial life and re-energize. It’s a 10, 500 acre ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley, which is about 30 miles from Santa Barbara. The land has long since been a working cattle ranch and in 1946, the Jackson family opened up the Alisal Guest Ranch (Alisal is the Chumash word for “grove of sycamores). Ever since it’s been a favorite of Hollywood royalty: Clark Gable was married there and Doris Day was a regular guest. It’s not hard to see why Alisal has been so consistently considered the perfect escape…

Dotted along the green, hilly countryside are 73 cottages, offering you a private retreat. Each cottage has a working fireplace, but no televisions and no phones. It might be tough, but you’ll have to remember how great life was before 2004 (an arbitrary year that feels like it was pre-smartphones). It was awesome–calmer, slower, saner. No one could bother you about something unless they were physically there, left a message on your answering machine, or mailed you a letter. Bring a book, whittle something, meditate. Okay, fine, there is Wi-Fi, but as soon as you see the natural splendor around you and check out all the badass stuff you can do, the last thing you’ll want to do is look at a Facebook newsfeed.

Go for a horseback ride, kayak on the spring-fed lake, or go fly fishing (take a lesson or even a guided trip). You can golf on one or both of their two courses. Play tennis. Try archery or take an air rifle class. There are miles and miles of nature walks and bird watching. Rent a bike and try out the routes fit for anyone from beginners to hardcore cyclists. The Alisal staff will even pack you a picnic lunch. Sit out under the massive blanket of stars with a glass of whiskey and try to figure out what the universe is in. (Seriously, if it’s true it’s expanding, what’s it expanding into?)

The Breakfast Ride is really not to be missed. You have the choice of riding a horse or taking the hay wagon out to the original adobe abode located on the ranch. Enjoy a breakfast cooked outside over a crackling campfire.

Once you’ve worn yourself out with all this endorphin-creating physical exertion, head over to their 6,500 square foot spa and get lost in some well-deserved, manly pampering. They offer massages, facials, even a gym with cardio equipment and classes. Take a private yoga class and become truly zen.

Dining is another highlight. Executive Chef Pascal Godé uses local, seasonal ingredients and sustainably sourced seafood. Being a cattle ranch, they naturally focus on using only the best meat available. The cuisine has a Western flavor– the barbecue uses house made rubs cooked over locally sourced oak.

The Oak Room Lounge is the perfect place to start your evening, which offers cocktails, beer, and wine with complimentary hors d’oeuvres after 5 pm. Live music starts at 6:30pm and goes on until 10 pm. The Ranch Room and Sycamore Room are two places to eat that maintain the tradition of actually dressing for dinner. That means gents over 16 need to have on at least a sport coat and ladies should opt for similar level of snazziness.

Alisal is a luxurious yet rustic retreat from technology. It allows us to indulge in everything good: physical activities, nature, human connection, and delicious food. We bet even that occasional phantom buzzing you imagine you’re feeling in your pocket will subside.