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“Great dude ranch experience”
Review of Rancho Cortez

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Rancho Cortez
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed January 21, 2013

My wife and I had the pleasure of spending a weekend at Rancho Cortez. We have never been to a dude ranch and found nice reviews about Rancho Cortez. The ranch was well maintained and the guest service was good. I have no complaints about the lodging, food, grounds, activities, and staff.

Rancho Cortez is located about 50 miles NW of San Antonio in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. It truly is where the story of the original Cowboys come from. Larry Cortez, owner, greets all the guests and does his best to make everyone feel right at home at his ranch. I heard Larry asks numerous guests how everything is going, what he can get for them, and how the food is. Sheryl, head staffer, was a joy to work with and always greeted us with a smile. The main wranglers, Tyler and Cliff do a good job in getting guests ready to go on horseback rides. No need to be afraid, the horses are tame and take you on slow, scenic rides through the hill country.

Take advantage of the off-season $99 special. It is worth it. Don’t expect a 4-5star resort atmosphere. The lodging and other amenities reflect the true dude ranch atmosphere (with added indoor/outdoor pools and hot tub). The ranch is about 12 miles from the small town of Bandera. If you are looking for a place to get unplugged (no TVs in most rooms, no cell service, WF only in select areas), this is the place. Bring some books and get ready for a relaxing time on the ranch. The meals were delicious and timely (8/noon/6 daily). Remember, you are at a working dude ranch. Don’t expect 4star dining. Larry tells good stories around the camp fires most nights. He is certainly the heart of the ranch.

I think this ranch is best for families with small children. I am not sure if teens or young adults would enjoy it as much as 30-somethings on up (due to the lack of electronics). It is a great get away for couples who want to get off the grid for a while. We found Rancho Cortez a great value and enjoyed our stay. We will be back!

Room Tip: Look for off-season pricing! January and February are good months to be in the Texas Hill Country...
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  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Ironman09
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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131 - 137 of 329 reviews

Reviewed January 16, 2013

Whether they are slow or busy; Larry Cortez and everyone at Rancho Cortez goes out of their way, every day, to ensure that ALL of their guests feel truly at home and are having a fantastic time. When I visited Rancho Cortez in January 2012 for the first time; I'd never done any real riding nor ever been to a Dude Ranch. But I rode almost every day for a week, and had so much fun that I came home and took up horseback riding lessons at the age of 50. Everyone at Rancho Cortez was very helpful, and happy to answer my endless stream of “greenhorn” questions. You can interact with the horses as much or as little as you like, learn to rope, go for a hike, or just put your feet up and relax; and that’s just before lunch! The meals are excellent, varied, and plentiful. The accommodations are very nice and comfortable; and at the end of a busy day on the ranch you will sleep very soundly. Bandera, TX is a really cool small town with a fascinating history. Many of the buildings are historical, and the locals I met were all friendly. Mostly, I stayed on the ranch; but if you go into town, check out the local Mexican restaurants for some fabulous authentic Mexican cuisine.
This year when I returned for the week of New Year’s, I’d told myself that it would be unrealistic to expect this trip to be as magical as the first one; which was the trip of a lifetime. But I was mistaken, as it was equally as wonderful. From the instant I arrived, it felt like I was visiting old and dear friends. This time I was a much more experienced rider and there were lots more guests present. It was interesting to hear the many accents, as there were guests from not just all over the USA; but Japan, South Africa, and New Zealand to name just a few. Some guests were avid riders and some had never seen a horse before except on TV; yet all were welcomed equally. I enjoyed chatting with novice and veteran riders alike, bantering with wranglers on the trail rides, and watching youngsters become entranced with horses. Larry Cortez let me show off a bit with some Arena riding to demonstrate what lessons I’d learned since my previous visit; and that was just icing on the cake of a fabulous ten day vacation. If you haven’t yet been to Rancho Cortez…GO!

Room Tip: Where ever your room is, bring a flashlight! It gets dark out there at night.
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  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled solo
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1  Thank Michael B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 11, 2013

I had friends visiting from abroad and wanted to show them a 'real' Texas experience, so thought a few days in a ranch would be cool. Based on the reviews below, I settled on Rancho Cortez, and am really glad I did.
We were after a mix of rustic ranch experience with all mod cons, and this is exactly what you get: no cell phone, no TV (well, there is one in the game room for the addicted!), but comfortable room, good shower, heated pool and jacuzzi.
regarding the food, I don't know if we we had was typical, as we were there with a 'fitness group', but we were very happy with it. I feared eating steak and potatoes at all meals for 2 days, but we had a salad bar, and reasonably healthy options at all times. We also had typical Texan dishes, such as fajitas (with both white or wholemeal tortillas), pancakes, biscuits, stew, so it was a good balance.

the horseriding was great for us, we had some real beginners in the group and being able to just walk meant we could stay together. The wranglers were really helpful in making sure the younger kids had a good time too.

We were unlucky in that it rained a lot, but it never stopped us from doing anything we liked. they have a game room with football table, pool, ping pong and all sorts of card games, so it kept us entertained the 2nd night as it was too wet and horrible to be by the campfire.

but really, the proof in the pudding was when my 6-yr old niece cried on the way out as she didn't want to leave. that made my day!

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank Entente-cordiale
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 5, 2013

What a fun-filled, exciting two days! We stayed in the Arapaho Cabin which was finished in knotty pine, had a very comfortable bed, and very clean, reminiscent of cowboy bunk houses. Excellent facilities inside, shower nice and lots of hot water. Even had a covered boardwalk in front of the cabins. This was an awesome west Texas cowboy experience. We were both raised on ranches in WA State, and wondered what we would be doing on a dude ranch for two days. When we arrived, we went on a trail ride, before we even unpacked our car. All the horses are very gentle, and the wranglers made sure that everything was on time, and every person had a horse and a saddle that fit their size and riding style. The wranglers were great people with a great sense of humor and very helpful. This ranch has thousands of acres to go riding on. We went on four rides and other than the beginning and ending did not ride on the same trail twice. We saw long horned steers and donkeys in the range area.
There is no TV in the rooms, and no blasting radios, and cell reception is nil. How wonderful! The ranch made sure that there was always something to entertain you. We were thrilled at all the kids who were riding horses in the small corral, and riding over jumps, riding young horses, and cleaning up after them. What an inspiration to see young people practicing taking care of horses and learning good solid work values. We found that many of these youngsters had been coming to the ranch for years, and the training showed well. We made the mistaken assumption that these children were somehow related to the owner. They were not but they respected the owner, Larry, like their father or grandfather. After going on the trail ride, there were activities going on in the corral, and Larry even let us ride his horse. Even though my husband and i were raised on ranches, and my husband's father was an excellent roper, my husband did not know how to rope. Larry showed him how, and he learned how to rope that day. The meals were always on time, with an excellent menu for healthy eating. We appreciated the menu, as we are trying to eat healthy. There was meat at every meal, and lots of vegetables. After dinner at night, there was always a campfire with old fashioned story-telling, roasting marshmallows over a wood fire, and he even had a local cowboy musician come and play cowboy songs. He also had a world champion trick roper, who stood on top of his horse and did all kinds of rope tricks. He also did whip tricks. He even picked me as a volunteer to get all tied up with his rope tricks. What fun!! Also they have a team of Belgian horses and a wagon to go on a hay ride. Also several of the kids at the ranch rode the Belgian horses and had their picture taken standing up on the backs of the Belgian horses. They were so gentle! We also got a ride in the ranch pick-up and got to feed long horn steers. I also got to sit on a tame Angus bull and get my picture taken like I was riding a rodeo bull. I also got to have my picture taken holding onto the end of a horn, attached to a long horned steer. We were impressed with the good condition of all the livestock on the ranch. They feed them well.
There were other facilities: a gym, a swimming pool, hot tub, obstacle course, and fun tree houses for the kids to play in. There was always something to do. We also had the opportunity to feed and groom horses in the morning before the trail rides. We like to western dance and the ranch gave us many addresses of places to go in nearby Bandera. We took advantage of their recommendations, and two stepped at the 11th Street Cowboy Bar in Bandera. We had lots of fun.
Thanks to Larry and the wonderful staff at Rancho Cortez for an unforgettable experience.

Smitty and Tana (The Cowboy and the Math Teacher) ;0)

Room Tip: The rooms are all good and clean and ground level.
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  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank tknudson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 4, 2013

We had planned a day-trip to Rancho Cortez, but as they had last-minute availability, we were able to stay one night. We checked into the Hopi Zuni unit, which was very clean with comfortable beds and new-looking bedding. It was nicely sized and very comfortable for our family of five. The food was very good and we very much enjoyed the ranch experience. Larry, Tyler and all of the staff worked hard to make sure we had a great experience. We enjoyed learning to lasso and had fun on the horseback rides. Larry let the kids stand on a horse and a bull and were constantly involving them them throughout the day with brushing the horses, letting them drive te Belgian wagon. Stick close to Larry or another Rancho Cortez staffer and you will have a full and wonderful experience. The campfire and stories were great! Thank you to Larry and the rest of the Rancho Cortez staff for providing such a fantastic ranch experience for our family!

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with family
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Thank threekiddos
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 28, 2012

First of all, you really need to know where you are going. All those ranch are operated for tourists and are not why I expected. This is my fault, I should have read more. The day at the ranch is long, very long... Basically you get two horse ride, and the rest is to feel up the day. The horse ride, is somewhat boring, they put you on the horse, and you are one after the other. You don't need to do anything has the horse is following the fellow horse in front of him. They even park themself to there spot when you are back at the coral. The longhorns (3) where fun to see, but don't expect to see a cattle, those three guys are kept for us tourist to see. All the wranglers as well as the owner were very nice, and they did their best to entertain everybody. The food was not what i expected either, we got enchiladas for lunch and meat loaf for dinner. For some reason, i was expecting a steak or something, it's called a ranch isn't it? Again, i was not getting what I expected because i probably didn't read enough, but i think i am not the only one and you really need to know what to expect. Those ranchs in bandera are equestrian center nothing more, and the days are damn long there. I am not sure all those ranch are worth the one and half trip from San antonio

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with family
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6  Thank Cambridge783
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 26, 2012

We three families went to this ranch to stay for a couple days just before Christmas. Frankly speaking, I didn't expect anything special when we booked the trip. But in the end, we love everything here: horseback riding, rope trick, feeding/cleaning work in the morning (by kids), bonfire in the evening, hiking around and game room play.

The room is big and clean. There are plenty of well cooked food, the chef is very good. I also like to hear the bell ringing when the meal is ready. So Western, So Cowboyish!

Mr. Cortez is a wonderful owner, loves kids, loves cowboy tradition.

The price for the stay is extremely low consider it includes everything: lodging, meals, horse-riding, entertainment, performing, etc.

I would definitely go back when I have time. This ranch is going to be my #1 (my kid's too) vacation choice.

The only thing need to be careful is that you should go "Ranch Rd 1077" instead of "Ranch Rd 470" (most GPS will point you to go 470)

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with family
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Thank jing x
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Rancho Cortez

Address: 872 Hay Holler Rd, Bandera, TX 78003-4364
Location: United States > Texas > Bandera County > Bandera
Amenities:
Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #7 of 24 Specialty Lodging in Bandera
Price Range: $99 - $225 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 23
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Welcome to Rancho Cortez! Located in the cowboy capital of the world, Rancho Cortez is a Texas Dude Ranch and Cowboy Fitness Farm offering horseback riding, lodging, day trips, hiking, and more! Saddle up and live your dreams at the Texas Dude Ranch! Cowboys, cowgirls, and experienced riders will enjoy horseback riding with expert cowboy, Larry Cortez. We offer plenty of Texas-style fun with hayrides, campfires, cattle roundups, lasso lessons, swimming in our pool, or soaking in our hot tub. With a broad array of wildlife species and ruggedly beautiful landscape as far as the eye can see, the ranch is the perfect escape from urban life. Lost weight and get fit on the Cowboy Fitness Farm! Fitness and weight loss visitors will work with personal trainers under the direction of Mary Cortez. Come for our popular 30 day weight loss camp or spend just a few days or weeks. Guided hikes, water aerobics, yoga, weight training, aerobics, pilates, and horseback riding - along with classes in the air-conditioned gym - will help you meet your weight loss goals. We can get you started on the road to a healthier life and teach you new skills to take home! Come to the beautiful Texas Hill Country for the getaway of a lifetime at Rancho Cortez! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Rancho Cortez Hotel Bandera
Rancho Cortez Bandera, Texas

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