We spent a week in April at Tanque Verde ranch, and while we did have a nice time, I would have to say I think next April we will look for another ranch to try.
First off- The Good-
Check in was courteous and quick, we felt like we knew all about the place before we even had our bags unpacked. Don't listen to anyone who complains on tripadvisor about distances, all rooms and venues are a pleasant, easy walk, with well lit pathways. (I love the care they take to minimize light pollution, the stars were amazing)
The food really was above and beyond what we were expecting. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinners were all very, very good. The pancakes at breakfast ride were truly the best I have ever had in my life, and the biscuits every morning at breakfast were a little too good. The menus were well thought out and varied, all in all close to a fine dining experience, with a little ranch-charm thrown in. The kitchen and dining room staff were friendly and very accommodating, special shout out to Bruce in the kitchen, who was so friendly!
The doghouse saloon was another high point, Lisa was marvelous, and I am still dreaming about the hellfire margaritas. The afternoon popcorn was a big hit as well!
The pool and the grounds are very well kept, we maybe could have used a few more sun loungers, but that seems true of most any resort during vacation weeks.
The evening talks, especially the rattlesnake show, were a big hit!
OK, so The Bad-
We realize this is a ranch, and were not at all expecting 4 Seasons style accommodation, but we paid for the best rooms at the ranch, the Hacienda, and found the room to be spacious, but that was about it. Tired, stained carpet, crumbling bathroom with a tiny, cracked tub, and the mattresses were very cheap and uncomfortable. I requested an extra pad, and they did put one on, which helped a little, but I left the ranch with sore shoulders after a week. Rather than the murphy beds advertised, we had 2 pull out sofas that were adequate for children, but would have been an absolute torture for anyone older than 13 or so. the mattress was about 4 inches thick and I would guess has been in the rooms since the mid 80's.... The view from the room was gorgeous, however, and Housekeeping did do a great job keeping the room in order. And we loved not having TV's in the room!
We came to the ranch for 2 reasons, for riding and for the kids to have a great week at a kids club. So now we come to
Kid's club- very disorganized, with very, very little to do besides what has to be the world's most boring riding lesson, or a trail ride. Most of the kid counselors looked like they would rather be anywhere than where they were. There are is a TV playing at all times in the Kid's room, and most kids were slack-jawed watching old movies whenever we picked up our two. One day I ran into 2 children who had just arrived and were lost and unsure where the kids were. I walked them to the kid's room, and brought them the counselor at the door. Now these kids were brand new, and they were not greeted at all, no "hi, welcome, what is your name?" just, "yeah, you sign up here, this is where we keep the clipboard". I left angry. My two seemed happy enough, as they enjoy riding, but I was curious why they always wanted to eat in the kid's dining room, and I soon figured it out. They also constantly play movies in there. Kids sit silently eating and watching old movies, while the counselors sit in a sullen huddle and talk amongst themselves. No interaction whatsoever. In fact, I twice went in there and found they were talking in graphic detail about the Boston bombings with 8 year olds sitting nearby. All in all I was not impressed.
And now to the riding, which was sort of all over the place... the good- the horses are very well schooled and very well behaved, which is testament to the skill of the wranglers. It is a big job to keep a herd of that size from becoming nose-to-tail drones, and I found the horses all to be pretty responsive, which was a pleasant surprise. I also like the idea of having a lope test, it is nice to go out on rides with people who can also ride. It takes the fun away when you are worried about some terrified beginner flying off the horse in front of you... So the lope rides really were great, long, sandy lopes through beautiful scenery. The only thing I will say is if you are there for more than 3-4 days the rides do get repetitive, but we were there for riding and ride we did, 3 times a day, which was a great value.
Now to the negative. I have been to other ranches, and I have never had wranglers that were that unfriendly. Our very first lope ride of the trip was led by a wrangler who was complaining to another wrangler that she had to take us out as we were leaving! It felt like 'welcome to the ranch, I really wish I didn't have to take you people out" Not a good way to start a week's vacation. It was busy, and they do have a lot to get done, but for crying out loud, do they have to just bring a horse over, point to a person, and say, climb up? Most of the people were absolute newbies and were nervous, and they were treated like an annoyance. Would it kill them to at least let them know what the NAME of the horse they are climbing on to was? A simple "this is Roscoe, he's a real sweetie and will take good care of you" would have made a huge difference. There were exceptions, of course, Maddie was very friendly, and also Katelyn. But many times I saw scared new riders asking tentative questions about their horses being met with sarcasm and derision. We were at the ranch for 6 days. We rode one walking and 15 loping trail rides. Not ONCE did a wrangler ask our name. Not ONCE did a wrangler start any kind of a conversation with us. Now, they generally would chat a bit if you tried, but the general feeling was they really didn't care. Towards the end of the trip we were asked for a horse preference, which was nice, but compared with all the other places we have ridden we just felt unwelcome. Also- if you have EVER ridden English in your life do not tell them. I did for about a year as a child, but have ridden Western my entire adult life and still got grief from wranglers..... It is entirely possible to do that job with a smile and a friendly attitude. I've seen it many other places, I just didn't get much of it there.
It's a shame, as most of what we found lacking in this vacation doesn't cost a penny to fix. I work in the service industry, and to me it is such a shame to see such a lovely place not live up to it's potential due to staff that really don't seem to even like their job.....
So we are moving on to a new ranch next April.
- 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