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Reviewed 8 May 2011

Every year we try to take one big family trip and this year we spent two weeks traveling around Texas, with the grand finale being the Rancho Cortez. The "fun" standard was set pretty high as the last two years we have done Yellowstone and Hawaii. Our kids, ages 7 and 9, put it perfectly, "This trip was the best trip yet!" and "Can we just come here every year, but for longer!" We were a group of 5 and stayed in the Hopi Zuni cabin. It really was the perfect set up. My Dad had his own room and bathroom, the kids had a bunk bed and futon to choose from and my husband and I had our own room and bathroom. We had so much fun and there was so much to do, that it's hard to know where to start. The ranch was not busy, so we really got spoiled by Chris and Josh, two Cortez sons and wranglers on the ranch that made sure we were having a great time at all times. Most mornings we got up with the kids and helped feed the horses. Even though my kids had never really been around horses, I felt very safe with them walking around and helping out inside the corral. Josh and Chris explained how to walk around, brush, and feed the horses and made sure we were safe at all times. At 8am we headed in for breakfast and planned out what we would do that day. We really felt right at home, like we were friends of the family staying on the ranch. We would usually start the day with a trailride at 10am and then ride around in the corral until lunch. My kids did not want to get off the horses! After lunch we would hit the pool, relax, or explore the ranch. While my daughter just wanted to stay on Buckshot or Big'en and barrel race in the corral, my son found the fossils in the pasture infront of the ranch. He and his Grandpa spent hours finding all kinds of fossils including 3 large cowboy hearts! Usually we would take another trail ride in the afternoon, help drop hay in the pasture, feed the longhorns, and then wash up for dinner. A few hours after dinner Josh and Chris would make a campfire and let the kids roast marshmellows. This was also a highlight at the ranch. We always ended the night looking at the beautiful Texas night sky and having a good laugh around the fire. The highlight of the trip for me was the trail ride to a lookout point in the state park. The view and the ride was great....Thanks Josh and Chris!! The great thing about this ranch is that you can do as much or as little as you want. We did have one rainy bad weather day that we decided to spend the first part of exploring Bandera. I highly recommend the museum...they have alot of neat wild west stuff. The kids loved it. If you're a family of city slickerish people like us and need cowboy boots, I highly recommend checking out the places that sell used boots first. I found a beautiful pair of boots at the 11th St. Antique Store for only $28! You can also find used boots at the Thrift Store on the main drag of town and the General Store in the heart of town. I could go on and on, but if you are still reading this what you need to do is book your trip to Rancho Cortez today! It was worth every dime! Thank You Cortez Family and Staff!!!!! We'll be back for sure!

Your Friends,
Jon, Kiersten, Sam, and Jackie Morvant and Doug Blair

  • Stayed: May 2011, travelled with family
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2  Thank lonestarnw
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 April 2011

Went with a group of my girlfriends. We had a most enjoyable time. Larry was a hoot and did everything to make us feel at home. The horses were well taken care of and the trail rides were a treat. Remember this is a dude ranch, not a leisure hotel. I grew up in Texas and have been to several other ranches and this met all our expectaions. You will have a fun time if you go. Please note however, there are ktichens in the cabins but not even a fork or plate...so if you want to bring some food of your own, be prepared. You do get three meals a day but nothing to open a bottle of wine or beer. Luckily my girlfriends and i are always prepared!

  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled with friends
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1  Thank shan2244
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 April 2011

We spent three nights at Rancho Cortez and very much enjoyed the experience. This is a dude ranch, so the accomodations were clean and comfortable but not luxury. I would have liked a little bit more storage space in the room. We were in a row of rooms, for singles or doubles and they have larger cabins for bigger groups or families with kids. We slept with the windows open, in the a.m. enjoyed coffee on the porch, lots of birds and rabbits.

There was no tv, clock or phone in the room, but I think that is part of the ranch life. I personally enjoyed the fact that there was no tv in the room, I read and relaxed got away from the news and fast paced life. Cell phone coverage is also limited to non-existant at the Ranch which meant no email or internet on the iPhone, but again I thought this was a good thing. If you really have to watch tv, they have one in the game room, and my husband was able to use the office computer to find a phone number. If you have to stay connected to the outside world or be entertained at all times, this may not be the place for you. Me, I enjoyed sitting in the porch swing reading a book, listening to the birds and the horses.

You know it is dinner, lunch, or breakfast time when the bell is rung. The ranch serves three meals a day, more food than I nomally eat. I don't eat meat and I was concerned that there would be no food for me, but there was more food that I could eat and the kitchen staff cooked up fish for me on more than one occassion and made the offer several times. Also, because of the fitness ranch they also offer lots of healthy options like a salad bar at lunch and dinner. The meals are served family style and it was fun to sit with different guests and the staff.

Activities - There is a trail ride in the a.m. and a trial ride in the afternoon, and you can work with the staff in the arena on your horse skills. The horses were great, healthy, in good condition, well tended, well trained but still with spirit. Every time we went out we took a different trail and the ranch has some great views, heavy tree cover, open plains, etc. Some of the trails were quite challenging in my mind, inclines and declines. I was surprised that the ranch did not offer or suggest helmets for riding, especially for the kids. And if I did have kids I would have been concerned about the lack of helmets. Rusty, our favorite cowboy, was great with kids (and adults), kind, patient, informative, and fun.

The ranch also runs a fitness ranch and you can join in on their classes or activities for a small fee. My husband used the gym and I joined one of their hikes, we also went for a hike on our own in the neighboring Hills Natural Area (right next to the ranch). The ranch also has a small outdoor pool, a small indoor pool and a hot-tub (which was good for after the rides), all should be desribed as basic.

We also went on a hay ride and out to feed the long-horns (amazing to get close to these huge animals). Each night the ranch does a camp fire and it was fun to sit around have a beer (bring your own), watch the kids roast marshmallows and listen to a camp fire story. Ranch life is pretty much done after the camp fire, although we did play cards with a group one night. You could also go into Bandera, see below, at night if you were looking for nightlife.

The town of Bandera, about 10 minutes from the ranch, was also a fun visit, historic saloons, little shops, old fashioned ice cream parlor, etc.

  • Stayed: March 2011, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank samthebeachdog
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 April 2011

I am responding to a negative and misleading review of the Rancho Cortez Fitness program (not the co-located Dude Ranch program which shares many of the same facilities). I live two hours away, and spend time at the ranch between consulting assignments. Over the past three months, I have lost nearly forty pounds, and thirty-five inches, and attribute a lot of this to the routines and new eating habits I learned there. I recently told the owner, Mary Cortez, that the ranch was the only place I found that is mid-way between an army boot-camp on the one end and a “foo-foo” spa on the other. You won’t see a lot of expensive workout togs there. That other review mentions Fitness Ridge in Utah. I know nothing about them except that their rates (from the two websites as of 4/23/2011) are much higher: 50% more than Rancho Cortez for a week, per-person, double occupancy ($1,995 vs. $1,330). Rancho Cortez is a NO-FRILLS place.

The emphasis at the ranch is on hiking, walking, outdoor activities, classes in the gym, classes in the pool, eating right, and lifestyle classes. There is plenty of variety. Some I like more than others, and a few I skip. An experienced personal trainer does one-on-one strength training sessions with each guest every other day. Some of the electronic equipment in the gym is not in very good shape, but the workout sessions mostly focus on free weights, kickboxing, yoga, pilates, and an outdoor obstacle/training course. The indoor pool is an above ground pool in a metal building. Not glamorous, but more than adequate for water aerobics classes, and was heated when it has been cold enough to need it.

There’s 4-5 hours every day of supervised physical exercise from early morning to mid afternoon, with lifestyle classes after that. Massages are available and the only thing I know that is not included in the one price. The masseur charges $65/hour and he is terrific. The self-hypnosis class is one of my favorites, and although it’s not for me, horseback riding is available. It’s kind of cool that this is a dude ranch too, and I have met some interesting people who came for the horses. But the fitness people have their own separate lounge with (slow) wi-fi if you don’t want to hang out at the campfire with the dudes and dudettes.

Rooms are basic but comfortable and clean. This is not a hotel but a ranch. The food is surprisingly good and varied, but portion controlled, of course. I have never been hungry. Staff is VERY friendly and willing to go the extra mile to make your stay as comfortable and as successful as possible. I plan to return on a regular basis. This is a great, reasonably priced, no-frills place to get fit, be outdoors in the Texas Hill Country, eat right, and lose some weight. But if you are looking for a fitness spa, with the latest equipment, gourmet dining, and pedicures, Rancho Cortez is not for you.

  • Stayed: January 2011, travelled solo
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Thank horace53
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 April 2011

a very good combination of leisure, sport , and relax in a cow boy style environement which gave us the opportunity to ride horses, to conduct longhorns ...
Lodging is simple but well maintained and very well housekept . The environement is green, quiet, and far from the turbulence of our business lives.
the team is exceptionaly present and nice : from the Texan boss who is the coach for horseback riding, his sons so nice, and the staff so professional and present.
the pool is not large but clean and peaceful in April.The horses are well trained with a safety 1st commitment. The food is simple but very good and healthy.

  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled with family
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Thank Phil0808
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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