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Rancho Cortez
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Reviews (341)
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Reviewed February 13, 2013

I struggled with rating my experience Very Good or Average and decided to go with "very good" only because the staff was so friendly and my kids had such a great time but it was really a stretch.

We went for a long weekend during a slow time because we wanted to avoid crowds. The day we arrived a busload of 60 tourists showed up for a day trip and basically took over the ranch. So much for quiet.

That said, the rest of our stay was much more peaceful. The ranch is large and there is plenty of space for the dude ranch folks as well as those there for the fitness program.

The ranch hands were very good with the kids. Cowboy Larry is awesome with kids. He has a very good rapore with children as do his assistants, Tyler and Bill. All three made all of us feel very welcomed. On the trail rides, I felt very secure that both me and my family were in good hands.

Where I feel there could be some improvement would be in the area of safety.. I would have liked to see the use of helmets during riding. There were a few available but the staff did not encourage or discourage their use. Other guest weren't using them so I was affraid to be the only one wearing them. Additionally, our bunkhouse did not have smoke detectors. They appear to have been all been removed except for two and one of the remaining had no cover and was missing a battery. We reported this to the desk and were told we could move or that someone would be out on Monday to correct. Since we had just moved our stuff in, we decided to get a battery and put it in the remaining detector and wait till Monday. They fixed it on Tuesday.

On our last day there I took the kids to the indoor pool which was an above ground pool enclosed in a barn with a deck built around it. We were told several times not to push off against the walls so the kids got in and were splashing around in the middle of the pool. I thought that was just a basic warning until a few minutes into the swim when the walls caved in, busted through the barn door and sucked a man and his daughter along with all the pool water out into the road. I screamed at my kids to hold on for dear life and thank goodness they were all safe but quite scared at seeing the accident. Apparently the walls gave way and busted open from the pressure of the water at the spot where the man and his child were playing. That pretty much ended the fun for me. I would have expected an apology or at least a discount on our stay for the inconvenience, but the only thing I was told was that it was good that everyone was ok and that they had just put in a new liner recently. Perhaps when they put in the liner they should have also replaced the metal exterior that actually keeps the water in place!

We can joke about it now, but at the time it was quite scary!

The day consists of breakfast, a 1 hour trail ride and 1 hour or so in the arena in the morning, lunch, followed by a repeat of the morning trail ride and arena. Then there is a 3 hour gap until dinner that can be quite boring. After dinner comes the campfire where you basically sit and watch the fire and cook s'mores. Not much push to keep things flowing after the time the last arena activity ends.

Finally, the food was not good at all and served in very small portions although seconds were available. Not sure if it was because of all the attention to fitness but when on vacation at a dude ranch you expect to have "cowboy food"....steak, potatoes, barbeque and certainly desert! Not so.

Anyway. I don't want to come down too had on them because, as I said in the beginning, they are good folk, know their craft, and are great with kids, but a little attention to the little things (smoke detectors, pool structure, etc) would have made for a much better experience.,

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with family
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3  Thank Tennisfanatic63
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 27, 2013

This is a very friendly place and ideal for families with kids. I do not recommend it for a group of adults, like we were, doing the day trip. To be fair, we are all fairly high energy adults aged 30-60, but still we ended up leaving early, because to be honest we were all a bit bored. The horse rides were nice and serene, but not much fun for experienced riders. The roping was good fun. Things like the hay ride and amenities like the pool and gym are better suited to people staying, and kids, not day visitors. We didn't stay for the dinner and campfire as the wait was too long with not enough to do. Things like a hay ride are better for kids. This would be an ideal place for grandparents to take their grandchildren, as the pace is ideal. The people at the ranch are all lovely and friendly, couldn't ask for nicer.

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank Ruatara
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 23, 2013

It has always been my wife's dream to go to a dude ranch. I never thought it would be any fun. When visiting San Antonio, we decided to make a day trip and run up here. It was the highlight of our trip and we are already planning our next dude ranch experience.

The staff are by far the best thing about Rancho Cortez. Larry and the gang are very professional. They go out of their way to make sure you have a good time, without being hokey or overbearing. We enjoyed two horse back rides, roping, the longhorns, dinner, and time by the campfire. The facilities were very nice, but if you are expecting 5 star accommodations, perhaps dude ranches aren't your thing.

Strangely, we really enjoyed that we could have a couple of cold beers while at the ranch. I'm not sure if this was only because they had family in town for activities, but it made it seem more like a day hanging out with friends instead of a day of cheesy programmed actives. When we eventually make our way back to San Antonio, we will definitely be heading to Rancho Cortez.

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank AMcKennaS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 21, 2013

We just got back from our fabulous 2-day experience at Rancho Cortez. My daughter is turning ten and we invited a small group of friends (7 kids, 5 adults) to celebrate with her. There is so much to do on the ranch and the owner, Larry Cortez truly adds to the experience. He did so much personally for our group from teaching us how to rope to allowing my little birthday girl to do very special tricks on his horse and on his two Belgium Drafthorses, to standing on a bull for a photo op!, to roasting marshmellows and making s'mores, signing songs and telling stories by the campfire... We stayed in the Hopi/Zuni cabin. The 3-room cabin comfortably accommodated our group with room to spare! (1 adult and the 7 kids and the other 2 couples each got their own cabins), was heated, had a small kitchen, 2-bathrooms and was very clean. We thoroughly enjoyed the trail rides both days and the price was more than fair. We will definitely be coming again!!

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Dawn K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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. Nice cool days.
  • 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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