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“Relaxing!”

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Southern Cross Ranch
Ranked #2 of 7 Madison B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed March 14, 2010

My boyfriend and I had a wonderful time at Southern Cross. I would highly recommend it. It was beautiful and very relaxing. It rained a lot during our stay, but we still enjoyed it. As per their policy of missing 2 rides, they prorated our stay to include non-riding days. The room was very clean and spacious. The bed was comfortable, although it was a bit on the soft side. The horses were great and were well taken care of. Being animal lovers, we enjoyed the presence of the dogs, cats, ducks, and geese. The food was really good. It was really nice to have 3 home-cooked meals a day and not have to worry about going out to eat or cooking. It appeared that those who had food preference (i.e. vegetarian) were well taken care of as well. I recommend Southern Cross to singles, couples, and families. I hope to make it back to Southern Cross.

  • Stayed: March 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank mic1013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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186 - 192 of 220 reviews

Reviewed March 8, 2010

Went for a week on the all inclusive plan, food was great, wide selection, the horseriding was amazing, our guides were really helpful and friendly and we went most mornings, loved the place, in our spare time we went for walks in the woods, bike riding, visited the huge stables and fed the horses, played in the pool and jacuzzi, theres a games room with pool table, darts etc, and a reading room. At night the place is like something from a film, clear skies and nothing but the sound of crickets(when my other half wasn't dive bombing the pool at 5am..)truly scenic place and will never forget my time there. Would recommend for anyone looking for somehting off the beaten track(although the gorgeous town of Madison is a short drive away and the staff will gladly drive you on their way to town for supplies if you fancy a visit)one person who was really friendly was Tommy, he drove us to Wal-Mart & Madison several times, and even took us a tour around the quiet streets of Madison County and pointed out the mayors house! The Southern Cross Ranch is paradise for anyone who likes nature, as it is in the middle of nowhere(seems that way anyway)and there is lots of deer, geese, huge spiders(!)and even a pigmy goat!

  • Stayed: September 2009
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Thank MichelleMGlasgow
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 21, 2010

We had a great time at Southern Cross! We saw happy ducks, geese, puppies, dogs, cats, and horses. Our 8 year old granddaughter took riding lessons and said the class was fun and didn't even feel like an hour. The bed was heavenly (great sheets, pillows, mattress) and the T.V. in our room was crystal clear. The room was clean and fresh with new paint, carpet, and bedding. Don't miss the homemade biscuits at breakfast..great with jelly or gravy. This was our third visit and we'd love to go back. Its not a bad drive from Columbia or Lexington, S.C. --right off I/20/great weekend getaway.

Stayed: February 2010, traveled with family
Thank fionagene
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 23, 2010

I spend a 10 nights vacation at this top location in January 2010. I recommend this ranch for international visitors. Coming from the Netherlands I had a direct fly to Atlanta and took a shuttle from the airport for $ 50,- which took me straight to Madison. The ranch picked me up in Madison for no extra charge.
January is not the best time of year to visit but still the scenery was beautiful and I enjoyed the riding in the pastures and on the wooden trails. Food, rooms and service were all great. I had a cat 2 room (Mint Julep) with all the comfort I needed, beautifully decorated, a great bed and a simple bathroom. On my next visit I will book a cat 2 room again and spend the extra money on riding lessons like I did this time.

The staff and the family were great to me. As a single woman in the low season I never felt lonely. On check in they assured me that I could always join the family at their table during the meals and the other guest were all very friendly to me as well. I had a great time with professional horse trainer Gilbert and his wife Charlotte who took me to a karaoke bar twice.

The horseback riding: all the horses were healthy and happy spending a lot of time in the pastures. I tried out 5 different guest horses and then picked my favourite (Nikkie, a very willing, forward and responsive mare). There was one horse Tiller, a funny and really smart guy, who tried me out at the beginning of one ride and after 5 minutes did not want to move forward away from the barn. I had to speak up to him, we had ‘ a good conversation’ and after I convinced him that I was the boss, he finally gave up and was a very responsive mount during the rest of the ride. I can however imagine that novice riders or riders who feel sorry for the horse to correct him when necessary would have more problems with him.

Although the trail riding is fun, if you spend a week or more you might want to have some variation (you can ride all the trails within two hours). I decided to take some private riding lessons from professional trainer Gilbert instead of the trail riding (at an additional charge of $ 25,- an hour, which was reasonable). He was great! After the first lesson on a guest horse he let me ride other more changeling horses (a horse from a client and a very well trained horse that the ranch has for sale) and let me use his quality saddle and bridle. I am an experienced rider in English style but wanted to learn more about the western style of riding. It was awesome to ride those professionally trained quarter horses that react on the slightest touch of leg pressure. I am 100% sure that Gilbert is a good teacher for beginners as well, as he always starts with the basics and he can learn anyone a great deal about horses. I have seen many horse trainers before and have trained a young horse myself and can tell that Gilbert is a real pro, he understands horses, thinks like a horse and is always very honest to every horse he works with.

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled solo
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2  Thank horsefan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 24, 2009

You can't beat the price with the horse riding, lodging and food! We stayed there in March which was cold and barren but still beautiful. Horses are everywhere and they add to the ambiance. Neither my husband nor I are experienced riders or are necessarily into horses but we did all the horse rides and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was something we wouldn't normally do but what fun! It does make you tired but those soft beds are INCREDIBLE! It's been several years but I still remember those beds! The food is terrific, you can pretty much spend your time eating and riding, riding and eating. If you actually get hungry in between meals they left snacks and drinks out in the cafeteria area. There were lots of private spaces to relax and read their books and magazines. Friendly cats and dogs were always around which you just had to pet. When we first arrived I had booked for us one of the inexpensive rooms. It was very small and old and my husband DID NOT like it. He had us upgraded to one of the most expensive suites. It was really beautiful and completely different from the room I had us in originally. If having a nice modern 4-5 star room is a priority don't bother with the other rooms, just get the best suites they have because the rooms all are very different in their levels of quality. My husband was very happy with his choice and otherwise I don't think he would have enjoyed his stay had we not upgraded. It was a wonderful experience for both of us. It was a first time for my husband to stay in a bed and breakfast and it was a positive experience for him (very picky) because of the beautiful room (when we weren't riding/eating he was in the room watching the hotels movie rentals) the wonderful horseback riding (2 rides a day, I think it was 2-3 hours each time), and the great food.

  • Stayed: March 2007, traveled as a couple
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Thank Clean4u
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 5, 2009

First of all, Im feeling a little guilty not giving the Southern Cross Guest Ranch 5 stars, since everyone else did. However....I do tell it like I see it! (THIS IS MY EXPERIENCE)

The riding was great. Lots of hands on with the horses, which I really appreciated. Bottom line, the "guest horses" are trail horses and THEY (the horse) decides when the ride is over if you go out on your own. Some of them are quite stubborn, which I suppose is normal for a trail horse. The trails are pretty, wooded and winding. Lots of rocks, roots, and mud, so there isnt much room to trot or cantor. If you ride in the pasture, you arent permitted to trot, for safety reasons. So dont expect much more than walking your horse for the most part.
The horses are well cared for and well fed! Beautiful doesnt even describe them. Look at my pictures! They are sweet, friendly, and approchable. There were several foals there too. Stunning babies.
The "kids" who work at the barn are helpful and pleasant. Hard workers.
There are tons of miscellanous dogs and cats everywhere. The animals are all well behaved and friendly.

Be careful of the electric fence near the barn. They have it on 24/7 regardless of how many guests are milling around. No warning signs on the fence either. I got a shock and so did the horse I was petting. When I brought this to the attention of the barn manager, he explained to me that they need to keep the fence on to keep the horses from bending the fences. (The fences are plastic) I was a bit suprised that they dont have warning signs, and have no concideration for us city folk who think that possibly the fence WOULDNT be electrified when guests are present. Silly me. It was painful.

We stayed in the Seminole room. A catagory 2 room. Nice view. LOUD window A/C. Beds were VERY soft...in fact one bed (a pillowtop mattress) was flipped over to help it appear more firm. Didnt work. Both beds in the room are VERY soft. OK if you like that, but personally, I dont. The faucet in the bathroom isnt attached to the sink. When you turn on either the hot or the cold water, the entire faucet shifts--ALOT! Shower was like a little mist. In other words, they desperatly need a plumber. Water prressure is awful too.I am accustomed to much nicer rooms, so I was dissaponted with the accomodations. The room could have been cleaner too. Window sills were full of spider webs. Carpet was gross. I layed towels on the floor in a path to wherever I walked mostly. I think I delt with it because of the horses, and the food.

Let me tell you about the food. It was abundent and frequent. Almost too much eating!!!
I did not find the food salty as other reviews have indicated. I though it was great. Unlimited beverages and snacks was a really nice touch. Kitchen staff was very friendly and accomodating also. The only negative for me was that I thought the barn staff should have eaten at a different time, or in a different room. (maybe the game room) I found them pleasant when doing their jobs, but they quickly lost their "game face" when in the dining room. I found that 'hello' was almost an effort for many of them at dinner. I do understand that they "live" there, but guest comfort should come first.

All in all, because of the magnificant animals at SCR I will return. I'll choose a different room, stay away from the electric fence, and wont eat so much!

  • Stayed: September 2009, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank bleweyz39
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
scgranch, Manager at Southern Cross Ranch, responded to this reviewResponded September 11, 2009

First of all, thank you very much for your feedback. We welcome your feedback as it is the best way to correct any problems or clear up any misunderstandings. I’d like to think that our numerous positive reviews are the result of listening to guests over the years. Please let me address these points:

Fencing – All of our fencing is vinyl coated wire or 3-wire flex rail, not simply plastic. It is actually pictured in a couple of photos posted in this review. This is by far the safest and most visible fencing for horses. However, a small amount of the fencing (in smaller paddocks near the stables) has a single electric wire added to prevent the horses from leaning and pushing on them. To be clear, this is a normal electric fence system (not full voltage like in a home receptacle), so it would not/could not electrocute someone as the review may have implied. Since guests are welcome to and do visit our stable area throughout the day and evening, it would not be feasible to just “turn it off when guests are present.” Frankly, guests are there as much, if not more, than we are. While there are already a few signs posted in the most obvious areas, we will be glad to hang a few more for good measure.

Room – I did take the opportunity to inspect this room and indeed found the faucet loose (but still attached). Please accept our apology, but I have tightened the nut that had somehow become loose. However, please note that the faucet was still entirely attached to the sink. The mattress is a premium pillow top made by Serta, but contrary to the review, it was NOT turned upside down. This particular mattress has a pillow top on both sides of the mattress. I suppose the reviewer only lifted the sheet enough to see the bottom of the mattress. I found the shower to be 100% fully operational. Living outside the city does have at least one disadvantage and that is no sewer service. As such, we depend on a septic system and therefore must limit the amount of water usage to some extent. For this reason and to save energy (and simply be more environmentally friendly) we use a 2.5 gallon per minute shower head which makes more of a heavy spray rather than a heavy stream. We also have upgraded to ultra low flow toilets (1.2 gallon) and compact fluorescent lighting indoors and out. Surprisingly, these eco-toilets perform significantly better than the predecessors. Also, this room does not have a window A/C unit (which would not be up to our standards), but it is one of 2 rooms that have a unit installed in the wall (known as a PTAC) for added comfort. This A/C is under the direct control of the guests in the room. I was unable to find any spider webs around the windows but acknowledge there were some minor, stubborn stains in an otherwise clean and sanitary carpet. This room is a favorite among families but gets more traffic from children (i.e. spilled drinks) than most other rooms, especially in the summer. This visit was at the very end of this season. We have equipment to extract stains, but sometimes they can be too stubborn to remove entirely on such a popular room in the short time between arrivals and departures. Nonetheless, we invite any guest to please share any such problems with us immediately so that we can act by either fixing a problem, providing an explanation, or even offering a more suitable room. We recently had a guest checking out whose only complaint was that their bathtub had no hot water. Shocked, I immediately checked the room along with the guest where we quickly discovered they were only turning on the cold (right) side handle. Of course, hot is on the left side. I only wish I could have helped sooner, even if there was nothing to fix.

Staff – I am delighted that the review recognized the quality of care that we provide to the 230+ horses we currently have on our farm and the level of service provided to you at the stables. As one can imagine, caring for this many horses is very costly and labor intensive. We do not condone anything less than friendly, courteous service at any time (including the stable staff during their meal break). I apologize if someone from the stables somehow came across wrong while eating and/or perhaps socializing with others in their free time. Please note that during this visit several of the people helping in the stables were just volunteering and most of the stable staff, in fact, does not “live here.” Only 2 managers are doing so currently, and it is a requirement for their positions. However, I disagree and find it perfectly acceptable for our staff to follow behind our guests at the buffet. Our dining rooms are large (over 100 seats collectively) and there is plenty of space for anyone to grab a private table or area if desired. Usually, the stable staff does actually dine in the game room area, but during these dates we were only partially full resulting in many empty tables. Besides, many guests go out of their way and wish to dine directly with some or all of the stable staff – sometimes even joining them in the game room seating area if needed.

Riding – I am also glad this reviewer had the opportunity to engage in some unguided riding. For many this is a real treat as most all stables do not allow you this freedom. However, the one caveat is that novice riders may not have the skill to direct and handle the horse and then wrongfully blame the horse. It is clear that this was a novice rider (and there is nothing wrong with that whatsoever). We welcome all levels, but any experienced rider knows that a horse would not “decide” anything as they should never be given a choice. I see many novice riders have this very same problem, but it is difficult to deny them this opportunity of riding unguided when they strongly desire to do so. Typically a novice rider will go off into the trail and then innocently begin to let the horse pick their path (or route). Inevitably, any horse will choose the path/trail that returns to the barn. By the time the novice rider realizes where they are, the horse will resist them “now speaking up” as the rider inadvertently gave the horse too much power or say leading up to this point. A good analogy is if you take a child into a department store and just let them go where they want, you will find yourself with the child in either the toy or candy aisle, then when you say oh no, the child will resist, have a fit, or whatever. The moral of this story is that these horses are not soured and will respond when properly instructed to do so. For novice riders, we encourage them to take advantage of our small guided groups of only 2-6 riders as much as possible. We can then help everyone, especially novices, have an enjoyable experience. As the reviewer pointed out, this only happened when they choose to go unguided. Having so many horses allows us to rotate stock in and out of the active livery pool. Since no two horses are alike, we match each rider with one that best meets their needs and skill level. As such, there just is no such thing as a generally “good” or “bad” horse in our livery. A good horse for Cowboy Bob would be a bad horse City Joe, and we have far too many horses available to use a horse that is unfit. Again, we are committed and invest significantly to operate in this fashion.

I could expand on a few other comments, but I’ve said a lot and I think readers will see my point. I thank this forum for the opportunity to share this information with others.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 28, 2009

This ranch is undescribebly beautiful! The rooms are over the top luxurious and the staff is awesome! If you're looking for peace and quite you've come to the right place.

  • Stayed: June 2009, traveled as a couple
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Thank OsloBeate
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 30650-5012
Location: United States > Georgia > Madison
Amenities:
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 7 B&Bs / Inns in Madison
Price Range: $80 - $450 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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