My family of 6 stayed at Tanque Verde for spring break last year. I thought that I’d be over the experience by now, I’m not. Anyone who has ever been to a quality dude ranch or resort wouldn’t look twice at this one. Really, to call Tanqe Verde a resort is laughable.
First, the riding: they make a big deal out of a “lope check”, they have guests lope up a hill. Ridiculous waste of time. What dictated whether inexperienced guests passed or not depended on the sit-ability of the horse they drew more than their own ability. It amounts to a public flogging for those who don’t “pass”. You rarely get the same horse twice. On my trip they ran out of horses twice, as expensive as this type of vacation is, to be told that you can’t ride because they are out of horses is not reasonable. The horses are used from dawn to dusk and are given a break when they attempt to dump a guest. This was told to me by an employee of the ranch. Guests being dumped was not an infrequent occurrence during my stay. The coral that the horses stay in when they are on “break” is tightly packed and has no shade. The wranglers who take out the rides are work-a-day folks, not really invested in whether you have a good time or not. Their horsemanship abilities are questionable, you certainly won’t learn anything. If you are an experienced rider, don’t tinker with the horses too much, let them do what they want on the trail. Attempting to get them to pick up the correct lead on a hair pin turn, or asking for a change on a figure 8 can prove worse than running the risk of falling over while on the wrong lead. Also, children of 12 or better can ride with the adults. Many times they don’t control their horses and run amok. I had one who repeatedly ran her horse into the horse that I was riding. You can space yourself from the horse in front of you, but there’s little you can do to get the person behind you to back off if they can’t control their animal. Many of the horses seem ill prepared for guest ranch work. One memorable gelding was two weeks off of a plow in a field, and without further schooling, was put into their program.
The kids program is pathetic. There are so many kids mounted up at any given time that they either move very slowly in nose to tail circles after the eternity it takes to get all the kids up, or they spend their time standing still while waiting for their turn to trot down the line. I found that if I didn’t advocate for my children, they got the short end of the stick. The tennis guy is OK, the nature program is OK. In the kids dining room they plunk your children down in a dimly lit room in front of junk food and a movie while the people that are supposed to be running the program are chatting it up in the back of the room with bored expressions on their faces. Some are down right rude. We kept our children in the adult dining room in order to get them reasonable food. There isn’t really continuity to the program, nor do the kids progress throughout the week. Guest families are coming and going all the time, so there are kids who have been there for a few days and are ready to move on in certain activities but the newbie’s need to start at the beginning.
The food was unremarkable and served tepid at best. The coffee at breakfast is weak despite requests from multiple guests for stronger coffee.
The staff is disgruntled and preoccupied with scheduling issues or interpersonal stuff.
Then there are the rooms. Ours was supposed to sleep 6. In fairness it had a place for 6 people to sleep, but you literally couldn’t walk with both couches pulled out. It was a complete fire hazard. The room was filthy, it had hair stuck to the bathroom wall, I had to call room service TWICE to even acknowledge a problem. Room service took a damp rag and removed the hair and called the room clean. The bar sink fixture was visably broken upon our arrival. Again, it took multiple calls to the office and a lot of aggravation to get it seen too. Additionally, the room reeked of smoke. We kept our windows open the whole time and when I got home the clothes in my suitcase smelled of smoke. I was told that all of their rooms are smoking rooms. I read somewhere that AZ law would be changing and they would legally have to have non smoking rooms in the future, but I was stuck for my stay.
Please review your charges BEFORE you pay. We were erroneously charged for my daughter, who was too young for the kids program and for whom we had to hire a private babysitter. When I addressed my displeasure and that I felt we deserved some type of refund, the management felt that reimbursing me for my daughters’ incorrect charges was sufficient. The owner won’t even return calls. They take no responsibility.
The plus is AZ is warm during spring break. Otherwise, especially if you have children, you’d do well to consider the many family oriented ranches in CO. The riding season is shorter, but overall it’s a much better experience. Most of the CO ranches book for a week at a time during the season. You ride the same horse, unless you’d like to change. The riding groups are smaller and based on ability. You usually ride with the same wrangler and group of adults, unless you want to ride down a level to spend time with a family member or children. Most offer family rides a few times a week. Because you get one horse for the week, if you don’t ride, the horse gets a rest. A reasonable work load, the horses don’t get cranky. The children’s riding programs are grouped by age and ability and the children actually improve through the week. Most kids over 5 go on trail rides, they stop along the way for activities. There are usually teen programs. Most ranches are family owned and the owners dine with the guests. The staff members live on site, are there all the time, and seem to be invested in the guests. You get to know other families from all over the country and the world and your children make friends. The draw back, if there is one, is that your experience can vary greatly depending on the gusts that are there for the same week. Avoid booking the same weeks as large family reunions.
Nothing’s perfect, the ranches that we’ve stayed at in CO have weak coffee too. So I pack my Starbucks and use the coffee makers in the rooms. Problem solved!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Tanque Verde Ranch Resort was named "Best Dude Ranch in Arizona" by Dude Republic in 2012, as well as a "Top Ten Family Resort" by the Travel Channel since 2007, and a "Top Five Ranch" by Conde Nast in 2008. Tanque Verde Ranch is one of America’s old time cattle and guest ranches. Located on 60,000 acres of Tucson’s most breathtaking desert landscapes, nestled amongst the Rincon Mountains and adjacent to Saguaro National Park and Coronado National Forest. Established in 1868, the superb guest ranch is recognized as the last luxurious outpost of the old west providing guests with plush accommodations, unparalleled amenities and a vast array of exciting activities such as horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing and hiking. La Sonora Spa is the perfect place for a bit of quiet relaxation, and the kids will love all the supervised children's programs! Don't hesitate – getaway at one of the premier, all-inclusive dude ranches in the country. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Tanque Verde Ranch Hotel Tucson