Meet Your Hostesses

Rancho Mirando is a luxury guest ranch and former private estate owned and operated by the magical mother-daughter team of Donna Aldred and Leslie Aldred Lambert.  As owners of the property, Donna and Leslie have the ability to work directly with their guests to ensure satisfaction down to the smallest detail. Whether weekday guest ranch rentals or weekend destination weddings, their guests complete privacy and enjoyment of the ranch “as if it were your own” is their top priority.

Donna Aldred, Owner/Artist-in-Residence

When Dallas-based retired dentist and ceramic artist Donna Aldred purchased Rancho Mirando with her late husband Dr. Stephen Aldred in 2007, she immediately moved into action to transform the ranch into a real live work of art for her family.

A friend was recruited to create the faux finishes throughout the house while she and her daughter Leslie tackled the kitchen cabinets.  Together they created a look that is centuries old.  It was the perfect backdrop to serve as a showcase for Donna’s unique sculptural majolica-glazed ceramics.

Donna’s love of ceramics began in 1976 while she was finishing dental school. Starting a as hobby, she designed and painted tiles for kitchens and tables for herself and friends. After practicing dentistry for twenty-one years, Donna retired to devote full time to her love of ceramics. She took formal training at SMU with Peter Beseaker and at the University of Dallas with Dan Hammett.

A love for gardening and the natural world surrounding Rancho Mirando inspires Donna’s ceramic artistry. She makes small molds out of leaves, bugs, and twigs she finds in her gardens. She is also responsible for the decision to incorporate sustainable herbal and botanical crops, as well as Rancho Mirando Florals into the ranch’s operation.

After making the decision to relocate permanently to Austin in 2009, Donna and her daughter began sharing the fabulous family retreat that they created at Rancho Mirando with other lucky families. With the ranch’s resounding success with hill country brides Donna and her fiancé, architect Mark Canada are now building a new home on the ranch.

Donna’s ceramic artistry can be seen on her studio website at DonnaAldred.com.

Leslie Aldred Lambert, Owner/Event Coordinator

“There has never been a more people oriented person than Leslie,” beams Donna. “She is the perfect person to help young women fulfill the vision of their special day.”

A happy medical school drop out who has found a way to take her dogs to work, Leslie grew up in Dallas, Texas.  After spending her entire youth at the all girls Hockaday School, she went on to graduate from Wesleyan University (Middleton, CT) where she studied film photography and psychology.

While considering following in her father’s footsteps into medicine Leslie spent time researching Malaria and preventative care, and even started a mosquito net program for more than 3,000 families in Tanzania.  She also worked overseas as a photographer in Africa and Haiti. One of her many passions is global health and infectious disease.

Caring for Rancho Mirando’s menagerie of peacocks, turkeys, geese and dogs is a dream for this animal lover. Leslie has always surrounded herself with exotic animals, from colorful hyacinth macaws to the pot bellied pigs who slept in bed with her as a girl!

While she does have other interests besides weddings, Rancho Mirando is Leslie’s life. She started the business as a bed and breakfast over 9 years ago, and since that time has been at nearly every event the ranch has held. Donna also attests that the Penny Whistle Party Planner was Leslie’s “bible” as a young girl.  “Leslie was always planning something with me — from parties to holiday decorating projects,” Donna says.

“I feel blessed to have this wonderful ranch,” says Leslie, “and I love sharing with others the beauty and joy it brings me.”

[Photos: all, Allison Peacock]