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“My dream vacation” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Southern Cross Ranch

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Southern Cross Ranch
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3.0 of 5 Bed and Breakfast   |   1670 Bethany Church Rd., Madison, GA 30650   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #2 of 6 Madison B&B and Inns
South River, New Jersey
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“My dream vacation”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 29, 2011

Well we just got home our fourth stay at Southern Cross. Just like our first time our fourth time was still magic. We go to ride as we are avid horse people riding every week at home. All the horses at the ranch are great, and that probably would be enough for us alone. But it sure don't stop there, the stable staff is great, the kitchen staff is great, the staff at the in is great, the owners are great. Oh did I mention the food….it’s great. The day we left to go home we both must have been hugged by ten different people each; the entire staff makes you feel part of the family. We go to ride and we sure do, about four to five hours a day, plus the all day trip to Hard Labor Creek State Park We go to ride, but I gotta say I can’t stop thinking about all the friends we made, and how much I miss them already.

Room Tip: We always stay in the Charleston!!
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  • Stayed May 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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125 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (37)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Memphis, Tennessee
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 23, 2011

I visited Southern Cross thinking it was a typical Bed and Breakfast!! I was wrong. This is a destination in itself. A very friendly staff greets you upon arrival. They give you a complete tour of the grounds. There are 250 horses that are kept at the ranch. There is great horseback riding. They have mountain bikes to use to ride on trails. There are all kinds of games to play. The rooms are very spacious and well equipped. The food was wonderful and they offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. The ranch is just a few miles outside Madison, GA and they have wonderful shopping and resturants. The price was very reasonable also. Great place to stay for football weekends because it is just 30-40 minutes from Athens.

Room Tip: Ask for a room with a view!!
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  • Stayed May 2011, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Illinois
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 5, 2011

I loved this place. I wanted a solitary retreat for a few days and as a horse-lover, was delighted to find Southern Cross online and well-reviewed here on Trip Advisor. It was worth the 12-hour drive from Illinois! Wonderful people, sweet (well-cared-for) horses, and lots of fun and quiet time. Several new foals born recently and they were so wonderful to see! Unfortunately, it rained my entire stay, but we got out there and rode anyway, as long as it wasn't thundering & lightning. They are VERY careful about safety, which I liked very much. They limit rides to the pasture if the trails (and the Georgia clay) are too slippery. The 3 meals a day were unbelievable: good, hearty, home-cooking with enough variety for everyone's tastes, and served like clockwork at 8, 1, and 6. They don't serve or sell alcohol, but there's a fridge for guest use and I went into town and got some wine of my own. The room was fine -- bathroom probably needs a little updating -- but clean and comfortable, so what more do you really need? I would definitely come back to Southern Cross -- it's an absolutely amazing value and a perfect getaway for solo travelers, couples, and families!

Room Tip: Plantation Room overlooks back pasture; quiet
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  • Stayed March 2011, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Orlando, Florida
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 3, 2011

INTRO:

Wanting to enjoy Spring Break by going to a dude ranch, I found Southern Cross Ranch in Madison, Georgia was the best option near the Florida area (since there are not many good dude ranches in Florida). I booked the Riding All Inclusive package for 5 nights during the high season (about $920 total including tax for Category 1 room), which includes all food (breakfast, lunch dinner), 2 hour horseback riding 2x daily, use of game room, internet, and other facilities.

ARRIVING AND CHECKING IN:

Southern Cross Ranch is located about 10 – 15 minutes from Downtown Madison, a historical city in Georgia. Upon arriving by car, the gates take you to a narrow road leading to the barn. After approaching the barn, another road leads you to the main hotel. The hotel is really a bed and breakfast, which looks more like a house than a hotel. I was greeted by Colter, who eagerly gave me a tour of the hotel and showed me to my room.

THE ROOM:

I was given the Cherokee room (located in the basement area), which was the largest of the Category 1 room. It was a basic room containing a king bed, large closet, a CRT TV with basic cable, and a bathroom with a combo shower/bath. The bed was very comfortable and had no trouble sleeping during the night time. The closet was big enough to fit all my clothes for 5 days. The TV was approx a 27 inch CRT TV, with the most basic channels (NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, etc). However, a DVD player was included with a selection of DVDs that could be borrowed for free in the media room. There was also a small sofa with a desk if I wanted to enjoy some meals in my room. While there was a fan in my room (though never used it), I wished they did have a thermostat as it did get cold in my room at times. There was a window; however it was too high to see anything. There is no iron in the room, thus make sure you iron your clothes in advance. Housekeeping was provided, and they did a good job making the room clean.

The bathroom was clean and quite spacious. The sink was large and was able to hold all my toiletries. The toilet was one of the eco-friendly brands where the amount of water flushed was determined by 2 buttons (one for liquid, one for solid). The bathtub/shower combo was standard with doors instead of a shower curtain. The shower pressure was just adequate (they are trying to be environmentally friendly) and the water temperature was fine. However, there were times when the water will drain very slowly, though this issue gets resolved by itself. Towels were more in the thin side, but there were plenty of them in the room. The only toiletries that I saw where two small rounded face and bar soaps by the Gilchrest and Soames brand (which was a nice touch). The shampoo and hand soaps were provided by a dispenser. Overall if AAA or other travel company rated the room, it would probably receive 3 stars/diamonds.

THE HOTEL AREA AND FACILITIES:

Since this is a bed and breakfast hotel, the atmosphere looked more like a 3 story home than a hotel. The main lobby contained a large sofa to relax along with 2 fish tanks with fish. The kitchen area contained a good size refrigerator for the guests to store any food (or treats for the horses).There was also a large porch with many magazines and books that could be read. I wished they had a daily newspaper to read the news, but we could always watch it on the TV. Going downstairs lead to the basement, which contained the media room. The media room contained a large flat screen TV with satellite cable and a huge selection of DVDs that could be borrowed for free. Next to the media room contained a table to play card games. There was also a computer with complimentary Internet. Finally, there was an aqua massage machine, which did cost $10 for 15 minutes. Going outside lead to the pool and spa area. The pool is not heated, which could be very cold during the cooler months. However, the spa was a nice way to warm up during the cold weather. Also outside is the pasture, where you can see the horses roaming around throughout the ranch.

Adjacent to the hotel was the dining area and game room. The game room consisted of various board games, a foosball table, a shuffleboard table, a pool table, and a dart board. The cost to play these games was a whopping zero dollars as it was included in the hotel rate. Also within walking distance (or riding by bike for free if you were in the all inclusive package) was the barn area. When walking or biking to the ranch, you can enjoy seeing the horses in the pasture, or the ducks and geese in the pond.

THE FARM AND EQUESTRIAN ACTIVITIES:

Obviously, the main reason why most people visit this ranch/hotel is for the horseback riding. The farm houses various ranch owned and guest owned horses. Almost all of them are quite friendly, and can be petted and fed treats. The horses outside of the barn and in the pasture area are also very friendly and can be fed and petted. The pasture is open to the guests to visit and play with the horses.

We were allowed to ride twice per day with 2 hours per ride (4 hours total) as part of our riding package. The process of the ride included selecting a horse to ride, then grabbing a lead rope and handing it to the guide to catch our horse, then leading the horse ourselves to the crosstie area. We were encourage to groom and tack up the horses ourselves. However, the guides were happy to assist if we needed up, or prefer not to do that process. Once the horses were saddled up and bridled, we were then invited to lead the horse to the mounting area. Once everyone was ready, the guides will tighten the girth and invite us to mount. After the ride, we took the horses to be untacked and groomed again, and then release our horses back to the pasture or the pen.

Since I have been riding a pony during my riding lessons in Orlando, I have requested to ride a small horse. I was happily given Frodo, a friendly and obedient Appaloosa Pony. He was quite fun to ride and full of spirit. Unfortunately, it rained almost every day. Thus, we were stuck riding in the pasture most of the time, which only allowed a walk only pace (no trotting or cantering allowed). The pasture was still very nice and spacious, especially the hill side where the horses had to climb and go down a steep ramp (which made it feel like you were trotting when you were really walking). Even though riding in the pastures got monotonous after a couple days in a row, it was just nice to be able to sit on a horse and ride it for 1 – 2 hours. There was one day where we were allowed to go to the trails, but that too was a walk only ride (since the trails were too slippery and dangerous to go any faster). The trails were quite nice with a nice creek/river along side to cross. There were times that we were allowed to ride without a guide, however, the walk only rule was still strictly enforced as guides were on patrol and had to remind some riders (mostly the younger ones) to only walk the horses. During the days that it did rain, we were given an option to skip the ride in exchange for a rain check that is good for a year. In addition I was given a gift certificate for $125, which is almost good for one night stay. Knowing that many were disappointed the walk only restriction on the pasture and trails, the barn manager was also very nice to open the arena one day (when the weather got dryer) for us to try trotting and cantering our horses. That was the highlight of the ride as we were allowed for about 30 – 45 minutes to run our horses at our own free will. While Frodo’s trots were quite bouncy, his canters were very smooth and enjoyable to sit. He was very eager to canter for me as I just had to give him one soft kick and off he went. All the younger riders had a field day being able to run their horses with almost no restrictions at all. There was at least one guide who did supervise the arena occasionally, but it was mostly the parents who provided the best supervision. I must admit that the kids did a much better job riding on their horses at a faster pace than I did.

DINING:

My hotel package included breakfast, lunch, and dinner (supper). The main chef is also the owner of the ranch/hotel (Inga). The food is very good and has a good variety as well. Breakfast options include fruits, donuts, pastries, and hot items like eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, pancakes and waffles. Lunch was the main meal time with options like prime rib, steak, pork, chicken curry, and sandwiches. There were also salad and vegetables included. For dinner, some options include hamburgers, quesadillas, bbq chicken/pork, and others. Drinks, cookies, and other small desserts were available 24 hours per day as well. Food is rotated daily, so there are always new options available every day. Inga was very nice to make me meals that fit my religion/diet restrictions. Since she knew I was an Indian, she was very nice to make me Aromatic Almond Chicken one day, which was even better than I had at some other restaurants. Another day, one of the other chefs handed me some fish just for me since he knew I shouldn’t be eaten beef. However, the steaks were way too good to avoid, so ended up eating that as well.

STAFF:

The staff here treats you like family and makes sure all guests are well taken care of. Inga, the owner of the ranch, is such a sweetie. She will always talk to the guests and cook special food for any guests who were on religion or diet restrictions. Many of her relatives also work at the ranch, including Lance, the barn manager. Lance was also very friendly and nice, especially the day he let us use the arena so we could trot and canter our horses for a little while. The guides (Eva, Tabby, Marlene, and Sadie) are young, but experienced riders. They were very happy to talk with us during the ride and help us when we needed it. They did enforce the rules when they had to, but in a nice way (even one felt very guilty having to enforce the restrictions). They do take care of the horses very well, though it is mostly the guests who spoil the horses. Most of the guests are repeats, so many of the staff remembers them on a first name basis.

OVERALL:

Southern Cross Ranch is a great paradise for people who love horses and wants to spend lots of time with them. While the prices are a little in the expensive side, it becomes a great value when you add the Riding All Inclusive package. The rooms are very comfortable, the food is good, and the rides are fun (especially when it doesn’t rain). The staff treats you as a part of the family, willing to go above and beyond to make you happy. However, I wouldn’t call this place a dude ranch since we are not dealing with any cowboy stuff. Instead, I think it is best to call this place “An Equestrian’s Paradise”.

To see more pictures, please copy and paste this link to your browser:

http://travel.webshots.com/album/579995350KNTNpR

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
England
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 13, 2011

At last - a holiday that lived up to our expectations!!
We spent a week at the ranch, staying in the Cattle Baron room ( amazing luxury, beautiful decoration and fabulous jakuzi bath). Despite some rain, we enjoyed some lovely trail rides, up canter hill, and through the creek. Southern hospitality truly is great. We will definitely return.

Nothing better than riding with your partner and kids. A true family holiday.

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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New York
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 4, 2011

I spent 4 days in a complete state of relaxation. The staff could not have been more welcoming, thoughtful and charming. My lovely room overlooked the pasture so I woke daily to the beauty of a Georgia morning and horses. I took the all-inclusive option so I rode twice daily, ate delicious homey meals, and completely relaxed.

I cannot recommend Southern Cross highly enough and I also cannot wait to go back!
PS -Try the Aqua massage!

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stone Moun
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 23, 2011

My trip was purposed as a sabbatical. The Southern Cross Guest Ranch was perfect! It was not too far of a drive from Atlanta, and not far from the highway exit. I truly enjoyed my stay. The staff was wonderful and accommodating in every way. This ranch has over 200 horses, and the ranch is truly peaceful and serene. If it had not been for the weather remaining in the 30's, I would have ventured out and enjoyed a horseback ride. I love to ride, but this was not the purpose of my trip. My room was beautifully decorated, roomy and comfortable. I enjoyed the dart board in the game room, and enjoyed curling up on the couch with my journal next to the fireplace. The food was excellent!!! There's nothing like having a nutritious meal prepared for you, three times a day, and you were not the one who had to cook it (I'm a mother to four small children). I would highly recommend this location for singles, couples, and families with children.

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Southern Cross Ranch

Address: 1670 Bethany Church Rd., Madison, GA 30650
Location: United States > Georgia > Madison
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 6 B&Bs / Inns in Madison
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3 star — Southern Cross Ranch 3*
Number of rooms: 16
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Southern Cross Ranch is a new breed of dude-ranch experience that combines a working ranch with the comfort of a cozy bed-and-breakfast inn. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Southern Cross Ranch Hotel Madison

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