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“Roughing It . . . and No One There!”
2 of 5 bubbles Review of Rancho Wendy

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Rancho Wendy
California
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Roughing It . . . and No One There!”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 13, 2009

Overall, Rancho Wendy is not for the high maintenance traveler but more for someone who is looking for an adventure. It is located in a semi-rural area (people live all around you) and the accommodations are definitely roughing it but that fits the price. The people are nice but it is really helpful (if not essential to speak Spanish), and getting to the hostel can be an adventure. Plus, MAKE SURE OTHER PEOPLE WILL BE THERE WHEN YOU VISIT.

It is located approximately 4 hours from Santo Domingo using public transportation (more on that below) in a semi-rural area in the middle of the country. Unfortunately, it is only semi-rural because people live everywhere in the Dominican Republic. Therefore, if you are envisioning (as I was) a pristine backpackers in the middle of no where, your dream will not come true. Instead, it is located along a rural road, adjacent to lots of other shacks, and a little market. It is near a river and has a stream running through it. Unfortunately the river is used for bathing and people allow their trash to run into it so it is not that clean. Also, the stream flowing through the compound sounds nice but looks really brown. However, that might simply be because of sediment.

The grounds itself includes a number of 'cabins', a pool table, TVs, and access to the internet. In addition, the staff will be nice enough to make you any meal. We stayed in one of the $15 cabins. It was nice enough but had no windows. The bed has a mosquito net (which was not needed while we were there) and the room had a couple of guests (in the form of spiders). Considering this was a $15 a night place, I think that was ok. The one really strange thing about the 'cabin' was that the shower head literally was over the toilet seat. Therefore, if you are planning on showering, I would suggest upgrading to one of the larger cabins that has a more spacious shower. In addition, there is no natural light in the cabin. My wife said if felt like she was in a coffin but I think it is ok as long as you understand what you are getting yourself into.

I suggest speaking Spanish if you come here because only the owner (who is very nice) speaks English but he is not even there year round. Otherwise, the owner's Dominican wife and other staff only speak Spanish.

When we visited there were absolutely no other visitors. I suggest ensuring other people are there when you visit because while it might be fun and nice to rough it, a little camaraderie makes it all the more fun. In addition, hiking alone with a guide is not as much fun as with new and interested people.

The transportation to the Rancho can be very interesting. Based on the hostel's directions, we attempted to take a private bus service to the closest city. Unfortunately, very few people in the Dominican Republic actually use private bus companies and instead utilize local shuttles that cram in 20 more people than they should. Therefore, when we were looking for the bus company no one could point us in the right direction. Instead, we got directed to these small shuttles that would have made for an interesting experience but do not drop you off at the place designated by the Rancho and are a little uncomfortable with backpacks. So after looking for two hours (it felt like a lot more0 in central Santo Domingo for the bus stop we took the four hour drive to Bonao. That was relatively uneventful except that we were transferred to another bus stop until heading out of town. Once arriving in Bonao there will be cab drivers who will take you to Rancho Wendy. There is no need to even tell them where you are going because the only reason white people with backpacks go to town is to head there.

Overall, I think this place can be fun. It was not for us but I think a little camaraderie over the surroundings would have made it a lot more fun.

  • Stayed January 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank AdventureTraveler_9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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17 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Location
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    2.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    3 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room Tips
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Quebec, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 28, 2008

My experience there was great . Wow, I can’t believe the different experiences the previous writers had. It’s as if we’re all describing a different place. Bear in mind that by the time I got to Rancho Wendy I had already been in the DR for over a month so perhaps I was more aware of what would be considered typical. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous. Every morning I would walk out of my small room and just stand and wonder at the beauty. I loved the horses roaming around and while I was there two baby horses were born. As one of the previous writers stated there are many trails in the mountains surrounding the ranch where one can observe things that not many gringos have a chance to see. The ranch is located in a small town (Los Quemados) where I met and become friends with people who live there. I am a very beginner Spanish speaker and they were so patient. What a wonderful people experience. Los Quemados is located outside of Bonao; I read in The Lonely Planet that Bonao is a small industrial town without much to offer but I found it to be a lively fun place. Maybe it all has to do with the attitude one has. Yes, Bonao doesn’t have many tourists but isn’t that what most of us are looking for. If not, then we would be in Punta Cana! I can’t finish without giving my opinion about the owners. Yes, they are both special people, each with their own ways of dealing with things. But from my stay there I can honestly say that the staff was not mistreated. As with many places in the DR Haitians make up part of the staff and since I speak French and the owners don’t I could have private conversations. Those folks like working there; anyway, if they didn’t they could just leave. Bugs, sure a few but that’s expected. I have had roaches in my Holiday Inn room in Florida so that just goes with the climate.

Stayed July 2008
Helpful?
1 Thank Maggie081
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tel Aviv
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 6, 2008

I got to Rancho Wendy completely by mistake. I was planning on staying just for a couple of days and then head back to the beaches but i loved it so much that I stayed for two weeks. The scenery of the mountains and the river and the small village is gorgeous. And the whole experience is just very authentic - from the Dominican food (which was excellent), to the local kids always hanging out at the Ranch, to the horses roaming. so far I was very disappointed by how un-backpacker friendly the DR was. Well this place changed the picture. It was cheap, the staff was friendly, and the excursions were magnificent. I did a lot of hikes with the guides (who will stop in the middle of the trail to bring you mangoes / apples / avocados from the trees), and it was gorgeous. My favorite part was passing through all these small villages in the mountains, where pretty much no gringos ever go to. That's authentic. I read some of the other reviews on this site, and I'm so glad I didn't see them before I went, because I probably wouldn't have gone. But going was one of the best decisions of my trip. If you do go though, prepare yourself to stay at a RANCH, and not an all-inclusive resort. Yes there are bugs and stuff. I haven't seen that many but they're around. And yes the water in the shower is cold, and the shower itself is small, and the rooms are poorly lit. That's all true. But who wants to spend that much time in the room when there's so much to do outside? Reading a book by the stream, playing dominos with the kids, even going to the river for a swim is literally a 5 minute walk. And at night the little village of Los Quemados turns into one big dance party and the locals are so nice and receptive (and the beer so cheap) that I really see no need to spend more time than needed in the room. As I've said, I stayed there for two weeks and the benefits definitely outweigh the problems. One thing that I would like to add though is that one review said that the staff was underpaid and mistreated. I can honestly say that after being here for two weeks and having A LOT of talks with some of the workers (some during the long hikes) - they all love the ranch and love working for it. What sometimes seems like mistreatment is just the owner's character which they are used to and don't take seriously. So you shouldn't worry about any of that.

In conclusion, don't miss this hidden gem in the mountains of Bonao. If you're looking for an off-the-beaten-track adventure, this is the perfect place for you.

  • Liked — The scenery
  • Disliked — Light goes off randomly
  • Stayed July 2008, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank Nurit77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Atlanta
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 4, 2008

Absolutely beautiful! Rancho Wendy is the perfect place for anyone who wants to escape the city and enjoy the serenity of the country side. I came here and was stunned by the gorgeous mountains. The service is excellent, they really go out of there way to accommodate your needs. The rooms are nice as well, make sure you bring insect repellant. Also bring a fleece blanket; it can get a little chilly at night. The food is to die for. They feed you plenty so be ready chow down and un-button your pants. The coffee is the best I ever had and I never drink coffee. My overall impression of Rancho Wendy is phenomenal; I can’t wait to visit again.

  • Liked — food
  • Disliked — insects
  • Stayed June 2008, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank jman892008
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
brooklyn
1 review
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 29, 2008

Place just had great character, horses rooming. My room was clean and comfortable. Nice view of the mountains. Breakfast good. It’s a bit of a drive into the town but not too bad . There is a hiking path along the river right in front of the property. Had a blast! Found that tours are a little bit expensive. The owner was very nice like Archie Bunker, funny guy. One of the best deals I ever had. Marshal thank you and the staff for a great time.

  • Liked — Price of the room
  • Disliked — Bathroom too small
  • Stayed June 2008, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank nuthin43
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chania Town, Greece
Level Contributor
16 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 13, 2008

My wife and I stayed in this rat trap two years ago. After reading the current reviews of the place, we feel bad that we did not write our own review. To all of those unfortunate souls who had the bad luck of enduring this place since our stay, we apologize.

We booked our 2 day stay over the phone. We learned of Rancho Wendy on the internet. Their web site is not a true depiction of the facilities.

In order to save time, I will list the problems with Rancho Wendy.
When we arrived, we had to ask for our food that was supposed to come with the room. The food was disgusting (and we are not picky eaters by any stretch.)

There were chickens on the "kitchen" counters, pooping everywhere! A puppy and cats also roamed freely and defecated and urinated at will throughout the house.

We watched in horror as Marshall's wife, gave chicken bone scraps to the puppy and cats. There were other critters fighting for scraps as well.

We fell prey to the old "bait and switch" trick. We were shown the room that we booked and it happened to be near the horse stables. Flies and manure were not part of the room description on the website. Marshall suggested we pay a little more for a room closer to the main house and stream. Of course we agreed. As we approached the stream Marshall described, we realized it was nothing more than a man-made, carved out, sewage ditch, 2 -3 feet in width, that just happened to resemble a stream.

The room was unbelievably bad. Now don't get us wrong, we are no 5 star prissies. We've traveled through over 40 countries together and have stayed in $6/nt rooms in S.E Asia and S. America. This was, by far, the worst room in which we've ever stayed.
Why? The sheets were dirty, there was no ladder to the top bunk, very low lighting in the room (obviously an attempt to hide its many flaws), roaches running rampant, ants keeping the roaches company, and right before we laid down on the camp style mattress, we noticed a huge spider, smack in the middle of the bed. We slept in all of our clothes that night. The bathroom looked like it was out of a western movie. There was cold water, no light and I'm sure we had critters showering with us.

The main house, we were told, was for the enjoyment of the guests. Shortly after "dinner" we were told we had to leave. We were only a few feet from the door when we heard it lock behind us. It was only around 8pm. We are not spring chickens (early 30's) but 8pm is a bit early to expect your guests to retreat back to their spider/roach rooms. The entire property was unlit and was nowhere near a town, so we were left with no other options but to put on all of our clothes and try to sleep.

When we inquired about the advertised waterfall on their website, we were pointed in a general direction and told, "it's over there, up the hill." Ohhh, Kay. What does that mean exactly? A local boy noticed us wandering the forest and helped us find it. It was a pretty water fall. I'm sure Marshall lays claim to creating it.

When we showed an interest in seeing and learning more about other regions of the D.R., Marshall immediately discouraged us from leaving his area. He stated there was nothing much to see. We asked about whale watching and the Samana peninsula --- "Las Galinas." Of course we ignored Marshall's claims, and it was the prettiest place we visited throughout our backpacking/hitch-hiking trip.

Our confrontation with Marshall was the kicker. We calmly requested a private meeting with him. He insisted we sit at a table in the main area of the house. We described all of the problems and even offered solutions to help correct them. We didn't yell (well not at first) and we described similar places in which we've stayed around the world, but he would have no part in admitting any wrong doing. He rebutted with an arrogant, condescending and downright rude attitude. He patted himself on the back throughout our brief meeting and we obviously got nowhere with this scam artist. He clearly has no interest in repeat business. He's in it for the quick buck.

Our advice to anyone even considering a stay at Rancho Wendy, heed this, Marshall is simply shady. He treats his wife and staff sub humanly. They stay, not because they like working for him, but because work is hard to come by. Do sweat shop workers enjoy what they do?
If you stay here, the bad guy wins.

  • Disliked — The managements unbelievable disregard for the guests
  • Stayed February 2006, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank Beans B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ranchowendy, Public Relations Director at Rancho Wendy, responded to this review, June 23, 2008
Greetings,

First, thank you so much for your feedback. You obviously had a truly horrible time at Rancho Wendy, and I am so sorry to know that the experience was so bad, that it’s still bothering you after 2 years. We really appreciate the detailed account of your time here, and it has been invaluable in helping us make a few important management decisions.

You are completely correct when you stated that our web site was not a true depiction of facilities. At no time did the owners, Marshall and Ramona intend to mislead guests. Our website has been maintained over the years by various ranch volunteers, and has been updated sporadically. Please know our website is currently [June/July 2008] under construction to more accurately reflect our facilities.

I do not know what conditions were like when you were here two years ago, but I would like to update you on our current conditions:

1. There are currently no chickens at Rancho Wendy. There are puppies and a cat, all of which are potty trained.

2. The food is wonderful. Ramona does most of the cooking herself, and she is a fabulous cook. I am unsure what food you consumed or who prepared it, and I wonder if your impression of the food may have been affected by your experience with the chickens/puppies/kittens.

3. We still give chicken scraps to our puppies and cat. I am unsure why you should have felt horrified at seeing this, as it is common practice in the Dominican Republic. Our animals are not strict vegetarians, and rather enjoy eating chicken.

4. We have a creek that runs through property from the river Yuna, to the township of Los Quemados. This is not a sewage ditch, but rather a freshwater creek, that is used by the locals to supply water for daily living. There are sections of the creek off property that have been stabilized by cement foundations.

5. In response to your feedback [and that of others] we have changed our sheeting process. In the past, sheets were replaced on beds as soon as guests left, rather than when the new guest arrived. This was not the best procedure to have. Our new process is to make up the beds as guests arrive, to avoid this type of a problem.

6. We are in the process of installing ladders on all bunk beds.

7. Room lighting has been improved, and energy efficient flourescent lights have been installed in all rooms. Electricity is a publicly supplied good, and as such, can be quite sporadic, sometimes absences span for days. The reduce the inconvenience to our guests, we do have generators on site, but do attempt to conserve energy as supplies are finite.

8. We have rat, roach and ant control in every room, consistent with industry standards.

9. The main lobby is for the enjoyment of the guests. Lobby hours are from 6 am to 11 pm. I am unsure as to why you were asked to leave at 8 pm.

10. Marshall is still the owner, and is just as rough around the edges as always. Please know that Marshall is not a bad person, he’s more like Archie Bunker, he has good intentions, but his execution is somewhat misguided at times. Luckily, he is aware of this shortcoming, and as such, has opened up a position for a public relations director here at the Ranch to minimize possible misunderstandings. We are also currently building a private office for Marshall to conduct business, as you were correct, the main house table is an inappropriate location to handle delicate situations.

Again, I want to apologize for the horrible time you had here at Rancho Wendy, and thank you for your feedback. Please know that we did listen, and are working to correct the problem. I do not know where you are from, but we expect our current renovations to be completed around the end of July, and would like to offer you a free nights stay to evaluate the changes. If you still have suggestions for improvements, I would be more than eager to hear them!

Emerald Hernandez,
Public Relations Director, Rancho Wendy
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
st. croix
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 20, 2007

I do not recommend that anyone ever stay at this hotel, if you could call it that, for any reason whatsoever. We arrived with a group of 40 people from St. Croix, Virgin Islands. The rooms were abominable. The owner was extremely ungracious, to say the least. The staff was mistreated and underpaid. The food was awful. Have I missed anything? Oh, I did not see, but I was told, that he disposed of his trash directly in the river.

Believe me, when I opened the door of my room to find a well-fed rat run along the wall just above the bunk-bed where I was supposed to sleep, (with no ladder to reach the bunk, of course), I really did not have to see anything else to know that I would not enjoy my stay. Then I realized that the sheets were dirty and full of ants, that the room had very poor lighting, I guess to hide the dirt. The bathroom was filthy. You couldn't go in with bare feet. There was no hot water, and cold water ran from a pipe with no shower nozzle. The toilet and sink got soaked if you tried to take a shower because there was no proper shower stall and no shower curtain.

Now you see why, even though I had prepaid to stay at Rancho Wendy, I came out of pocket to stay in a hotel in Bonao, called Hotel Club Premium or something like that, which was clean and nice. Although, I like natural ambience, rats, bedbugs, and disrespectfulness are not for me.

Their website looks very nice. I guess that is why we ended up booking with them. How deceiving!! Even, the outings that they arranged for us did not live up to our expectations.

Our group travels every year to a different Caribbean island. We have been to St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St. Vincent, Puerto Rico, Tortola and Virgin Gorda, St. Thomas and St. John. Never have we experienced the miserable accomodations and rude treatment that we did here.

Even if you have no other choice, do not stay here.

  • Liked — Believe me, it was truly unacceptable in every way.
  • Disliked — The attitude of the owners.
  • Stayed July 2007
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
7 Thank juliebeb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ranchowendy, owner at Rancho Wendy, responded to this review, December 23, 2007
WOW do I feel bad!

I am so sorry that she had a bad experience at our Ranch.

This young woman came with a group of hikers, on the day of her arrival she was not happy with her accommodations, I am sure that when she told me that she had rat, ants, dirty sheets, no ladder, poor lighting (we where on battery power to conserve energy) etc.

I was not happy with my staff (would she expect me to give them a big HUG). I am not sure what she expected us to pay our staff but if they felt they where being underpaid or abused they would not be working for us (one employee was with us 10 years, one 2 years, and the others are part time guides that are on call and if they felt abused or underpaid they would not be helping us. Our full time employees work and live on the ranch.
Our staff had assisted her in finding lodging in Bonao, picked her up every morning to participate in all the activities that was booked, horse back riding, hiking to our magnificent waterfalls, trekking on Pico Duarte, Kayaking 2 times, trekking the killer trail. Have breakfast, lunch, and dinner and returned her in the evening to her hotel.

This is a Ranch and not a 5 star hotel we have BBQs, kayaking, white water Kayaking, flying fox (zip lines), hiking, horseback riding, mountain and rock climbing to the highest peak in the Caribbean (Pico Duarte) barn fire at night if weather permitting , biking, golf, Our rooms are very basic with bathrooms, facing a fresh water stream or within 50 steps. Prices are from 7.00USD to 25.00USD.
Marshall Zipper owner
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Rancho Wendy

Property: Rancho Wendy
Address: Main Street, Bonao, Dominican Republic
Location: Caribbean > Dominican Republic > Monsenor Nouel Province > Bonao
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Room Service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Specialty Lodging in Bonao
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
We offer the unique opportunity to see and experience the Dominican Republic way of life close up. We are a basic ranch that caters to the adventurous traveler who enjoys basic accommodations and rustic lifestyle surrounded by the proximity of nature. Minutes from the city of Bonao and only 1 hour from Santo Domingo. Make our affordable mountain retreat a part of your next travel destination. We offer 15 rooms, home cooked meals, a shallow but clean pool, internet access, pool table and adventure tours. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Rancho Wendy Hotel Bonao

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