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“Ranching at its best!!”
Review of Blackbird Farm

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Blackbird Farm
GreenLeadersGold level
Cheshire
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Ranching at its best!!”
Reviewed August 17, 2009

We stayed at the ranch for a week with our young family, and from the moment we arrived we were made to feel at home. Nothing is too much trouble, the service is excellent, and the children were free to play around the ranch (subject to a couple of safety rules!), which freed up some grown up time.
The scenery is spectacular, and if you don't fancy the horseriding (which is fantastic, and caters for all levels) you can go off hiking / biking / running / fishing / swimming.
The food is all home cooked and of a great quality. The bar is open, and excellent wines are served with lunch and dinner.
We had a fabulous time, felt totally relaxed at the ranch, and hope to go back some day.

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX928
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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47 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (3)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Palo Alto, California
Level 5 Contributor
83 reviews
47 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 197 helpful votes
Reviewed July 12, 2009

This was our second guest ranch in the past couple of years. We chose Highland Ranch over others since its - driving distance for us (3 hrs), gourmet food and wine, located in a great location (wine country and Mendocino Coast), small (< 25 guests), and plenty of trails for riding.

We were not disappointed. The food is excellent. We had fresh garden grown salads every meal, fresh veggies, and a great variety of meats and fish. Vegetarians got special treatment too. The ranch provided wines from the local wineries. Every night there was a nice fire on the deck for the guests to enjoy as the kids played in the fields. Musical instruments were available, and guests would play.

Riding was good (not great). Two rides a day, but you need to sign up each day since there is limited space. The rides were tailored to the group. The scenery was very nice. I really enjoyed the morning rides. They start at 11am (it would be nice if they were earlier).

My daughter (9yo) made friends at the ranch, and had a blast.

We will be back.

Recommendations
- bring bikes if you like to bike
- bring riding boots and gloves
- spend more than 2 days
- plan to visit the wineries since they are real close

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank jtooley
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
1 review
Reviewed June 15, 2009

Megan and I made sure that the Highland Ranch was one of the first places out of our home state of Illinois that our son, Casey, would visit. It's like being with family. We love the ranch and love the people that work there. If you're visiting Philo, I'm not sure why you'd stay anywhere else.

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled on business
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Helpful?
Thank newtonpea
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Valley Center, California
1 review
Reviewed April 18, 2009

This place is a dream! It is even prettier than the pictures on the website. The surrounding forests and trails are beautiful and well maintained. The horses are very well mannered. The cabins are warm and cozy. Best of all, the food is great and it is healthy! If you are looking to get away and relax, this is the place to go.
Our group was treated just like family by all of the staff. The organized trails rides through the forest were well guided and suited our group perfectly. We took an afternoon away from the ranch and went wine tasting at some of the many wineries in the area (within a few miles). Lots of fun. Can't wait to go back!

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank jengregsmom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oakland, CA
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed March 13, 2009

I have been coming to Highland Ranch every year for five years typically with one or all of my kids. Isolated in the hills and redwood forests of rural Mendocino County, all you hear is the wind blowing through the trees and you see the stars at night. This is one of the most beautiful settings you can imagine. It is where I bring the family for down time and to unwind.

The Gaines family has run the place for many years and are wonderful, down to earth hosts. Rob is a fabulous cook and is now co-manager. The food is plentiful and delicious, and Rob always accommodates my dietary peculiarities.

My family's favorite activities are horseback riding and hiking on the forest trails, fishing in the ponds, swimming in the pool or ponds, reading in one of the hammocks, playing board games in the main house and some tennis. The boys are particularly excited to come shoot clay pigeons. A variety of cats and dogs roam the property and we usually bring our golden retrievers along.

Highland Ranch is a rustic, family-style place. Beautiful but not elegant. The cabins are old, creaky and drafty. The main house is warm and cozy and a great place to hang out. If you are looking for fancy rooms and elegant dining this is not the place.

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank OaklandNative
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
US
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed January 8, 2009

The setting for this rustic, laid-back lodge is gorgeous, the food very good, and the staff exceptionally nice and friendly. There is much to do here, but I recommend that you really understand in advance what you are paying for up front and what will be additional cost. While it was a wedding event, with three meals arranged and paid for by the bride and groom, there was still outlandish ranch fees for daily meals and "facility use." Since it was October and no pool, there were hiking and other "activities" to do, but really we were there for a wedding and all wedding activities were provided by the bride and groom. On top of your daily "facility use" fees there are fees for each horseback ride, etc. which makes an already expensive stay even more expensive. I went into it knowing the expense and thinking I was subsidizing the wedding, but really I was padding the pockets of the owners for fees they really didn't "earn" for meals and activities already paid for by the bride and groom.

  • Liked — Gorgeous setting
  • Disliked — Pricing
  • Stayed October 2008
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank daytripper081
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed November 30, 2008

Friends of mine had a wonderful wedding at the Highland Ranch, and although the setting and event were fantastic, the surprise at the end was highly disappointing. My wife and I were going to spend the night outside of the ranch, but a friend--who'd already paid to stay on the premises and needed to leave early--offered that we stay in his stead. We took him up on his offer and after brunch-- which the wedding party paid for--we told Jim, the owner of the ranch, that the door of the place we stayed was open. He turned around and charged us day use fees and food and beverage fees for the past 24 hours despite the fact that wedding party had paid for everything, that we didn't use the facility nor eat his food, and too, that our friend had already paid for everything.

Based on fees listed on the Highland Ranch Web site, he may be absolutely technically correct, however, his approach, opportunism, and desperation were highly questionable and showed to us that this is not the kind of place we would want to stay and would never recommend. I've traveled to many places and stayed in many amazing and questionable places, but never have I had the mean-spiritedness that we experienced here. Lodgers beware!

  • Stayed October 2008
    • Value
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    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank skiprudolf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Blackbird Farm

Property: Blackbird Farm
Address: 18601 Van Zandt Resort Rd, PO Box 198, Philo, CA 95466 (Formerly Highland Ranch)
Location: United States > California > Mendocino County > Philo
Amenities:
Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 Specialty Lodging in Philo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Situated on a 250 acre estate in the Anderson Valley Wine region. Blackbird Farm is a peaceful guest ranch and farm. Located an easy 2 hours north of San Francisco. With eight clean and comfortable guest cabins surrounding the charming 100 year old Main House where delicious, fresh and wholesome meals are served. Open for vacations, weddings, reunions, retreats and dogs welcome. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Highland Ranch Hotel Philo

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