White Stallion Ranch

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  • Fantastic family trip!

    Fantastic family trip!

    by tony01760 on 2021-04-23 01:45 pm

    We just got back from a 4-night stay at the White Stallion Ranch. This was one of the best family trips we've ever taken and I highly recommend it to others.

    This was our first time visiting the ranch (or any dude ranch) so everything was a new experience. Here are my observations:

    Destination

    We were looking for a location where we'd be assured of good weather in April, and this led us to Arizona. We weren't disappointed - the high was mid 80's pretty much every day and it ranged from full sun to partial clouds, zero rain.

    We were also looking for something different, and White Stallion Ranch also checked that box. It's the real deal - drive about 30 minutes from Tucson airport and you're on 3,000 acres of ranch with nothing but desert and horses. The Sonoran desert is beautiful, with various cacti and mountain backdrops.

    Activities

    There's a daily schedule of activities with options designed to appeal to different interests.

    The main draw, of course, is horse riding. There are several rides every day, offering slow rides or fast rides, and flat trails or trails that cross the mountains, breakfast rides or short rides or half-day rides. The ranch has about 150 horses so there's always space on any ride. You are "assigned" a horse on your first day and you then ride the same horse for the rest of your stay. As a complete novice, I found my horse to be very easy going - he basically just followed the horse in front, which was fine with me.

    We also took a horse riding lesson. My wife passed a simple test and then did a couple of fast rides, plus she and our son took part in team penning, riding their horses to try to herd cows into a pen as quickly as possible. Super fun.

    As we learned, over the past few years the ranch has built out its non-horse activities and, for me, these were even more compelling. We went on two bikes rides through the desert (on e-bikes so the amount of pedaling required is minimal), did archery, and shot guns twice (once with 22 caliber rifles and pistols, another time with "black powder" guns where you load the gunpowder yourself).

    On our last day we went rock climbing with a professional guide. This is limited to just four climbers, so required signing up early. We scaled what appeared to be near vertical mountain faces and we each made it to the top! The views were amazing, as was the sense of accomplishment.

    Outside of these scheduled activities, we also found time to hit the pool and hot tub, feed the horses, play basketball, and try our hand at lasso'ing. Needless to say, we slept very well!

    Food

    The ranch serves breakfast (7:30-9am), lunch (12:30-1:30pm) and dinner (7pm). When you're active all day, you get hungry and we certainly ate!

    They post the menu each day (see photo). At lunch and dinner time, they ring the bell and "everyone comes running."

    Breakfast was basically the same every day and, after four days, was becoming a little repetitive. For lunch and dinner, there were several proteins and invariably I'd try each one. Pre-COVID, I believe everything was buffet style but now the food is served for you (you still line up but they put the food on your plate).

    For drinks, there's an unlimited supply of water, lemonade and iced tea throughout the day. Additionally, there are several coolers full of soft drinks, plus beer/wine/liquor. You simply take what you want and write it down on your tab.

    Accommodation

    The ranch has a bunch of bungalow style buildings ("casitas"); each casita is split into four units. The rooms are "fine" - not luxurious by any means but they're clean and well maintained. In our case, we were outside most of the day, and then collapsed at night, so didn't need anything else.

    There are only about a dozen or so casitas, meaning about 40 individual rooms, so everything's pretty contained. It's a 2-minute walk to breakfast, to the pool, to the horses, etc. It also means that you see the same guests all the time and can easily get to know other families.

    Service

    This is a small, family-owned and run property. The family wants everyone to have a first rate experience and they've done a great job of extending this mindset to everyone who works there. Whether it was a wrangler, an activity guide, a food server or a maid, every request was met with a "happy to help" response.

    Special mentions to:
    o Steven True (one of the third generation of owners) - he cooks a mean steak
    o Alice (his wife) - she saw that we were struggling with the lasso, she came up and offered an impromptu lesson
    o Louie (the activities director) - from archery, to biking, to shooting, Louie exuded a wonderful energy and always offered lots of positive encouragement

    We learned that several of their workers started as guests, came back as volunteers, and ultimately become employees. Their passion for the ranch is evident.

    Cost

    With respect to cost, in my view, the price is very fair. The rate is a function of your room type, the date of your stay, and number of people. In our case, we stayed in a Deluxe King/Twin room during "peak season" with two adults and one 15-year old. The price was $792 per night + tax + 15% service fee, so the four night total cost was $3,938.

    By booking for four nights, we got the "Full American Plan Outdoor Adventure Package." As such, basically everything was included - the room, all meals, all activities, and transportation to/from the airport.

    The few things that are extra are very reasonably priced. In our case, we took a horseback riding lesson ($20/person for an hour) and my wife had a 90-minute massage ($95). Alcohol is an extra charge but inexpensive, e.g. beer is $3 (by comparison, the resort down the road charged $7).

    Recommendations

    As you can tell, our time at the White Stallion ranch was fantastic! The activities were excellent, the food delicious and plentiful, the room was on-point, and the staff top-notch.

    A number of the families who were visiting at the same time as us were returning for their third or fourth time, and I can definitely see why. In fact, we're already talking about dates for our another visit.

    Two small recommendations for potential visitors: (1) bring some cash. You don't need it to tip, since that's what the 15% service charge covers, but it is needed to pay the wranglers directly for lessons or for a massage, (2) bring light-weight long-sleeved pants and shirts. If you're e-biking next to cactus, or scaling volcanic rock, you'll want some protection for your skin (as you'll see in the photos, I didn't have the benefit of this advice!).

    Two small recommendations for the White Stallion Ranch: (1) please invest a little more in some of the non-horse activities. The archery targets and the arrows were pretty beaten up. And the rock-climbing group size of four is pretty restrictive, (2) if people arrive after 7pm, it's difficult to sign up for activities for the following day, so consider a way to pre-register in advance of arrival.

    I hope this review is helpful.

  • No Place Like It

    No Place Like It

    by deem587 on 2021-04-14 08:16 am

    We have stayed at everything from luxury resorts throughout the Caribbean to primitive camping in national parks and other scenic places. Nowhere has matched the natural beauty and authentic experience like White Stallion. We arrived late at night and were spellbound by the sound of owls hooting and a coyote howling in the distance while a million stars twinkled above us.

    Our short 3 nights stay occurred during what locals said was the coldest and rainiest stretch for months but we still thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful grounds and horseback riding. You can tell that everyone who works there genuinely cares about the place, their animals and their guests. We even got an interesting history lesson on the various guns that one gets to use at the shooting range.

    We did the bed and breakfast package since we wanted to check out some other sights in Tucson. That meal offered many tasty options that one orders off a checklist or if you have an early morning ride there are a few continental breakfast items available before the main service starts.

    My heart ached when it was time to leave the ranch... and we are already trying to figure out when we can return.

  • World Class Experience AND Customer Service

    World Class Experience AND Customer Service

    by publicnoah on 2021-04-11 12:16 am

    I had low expectations about a dude ranch; I was VERY wrong. Great rides, great activities, great people, great food. One quick example: we goofed when signing up for activities and forgot to add my brother for an activity involving horses; they fixed OUR screw up and ran to get "his" horse, saddled him (the horse) and got my brother up and running so he could join us (including his kids). Ok, one more great example: We were done with our stay and were about to leave the ranch but my brother's 9 year old daughter wanted to give going away treats to "her" horse, Jeeves. She asked Sally, one of the wranglers, where we might find Jeeves. Sally went off to the paddock, brought Jeeves around for my niece and made one of the happiest 9 year olds ever. There were multiple examples like these every day. My wife and I are already planning a return in the fall. It's not cheap but it's worth every penny. Plus - it's family owned and you see the family everywhere, doing everything. It's a model for customer service everywhere.

  • Mixed mask wearing

    Mixed mask wearing

    by wingslca on 2021-04-07 10:57 am

    The staff is as fantastic, friendly and helpful as ever! And they consistently wear masks. However, they do not enforce mask wearing inside, even though they have large, clear signs insisting on mask wearing inside. Thus, a full 30-50% of guests do not wear masks inside. This was a very disappointing discovery, since our kids have not been vaccinated and the rates of Covid infections are rising again.

    Pros: excellent outdoor dining. Terrific horse back riding. Amazing service. Lovely casitas. The staff was so very accommodating and went above and beyond to make our family vacation the best it could be.

    Cons: Our kids could not use game room or lobby at all, due to the high numbers of non-maskers. Any evening activities had to be skipped as well, due to them being indoors with non-masked attendees, or outdoors but shoulder-to-shoulder with many people yelling/whooping/ and even vaping (which interestingly showed how far 1 persons aerosols spread in a crowd). We are hopeful that the more infectious B117 variant doesn't cause an outbreak at this truly spectacular resort, but odds are against this.

    In summary, highly recommend this amazing resort to the vaccinated!

  • Amazing ranch

    Amazing ranch

    by dmay0520 on 2021-03-25 03:01 pm

    Visited March 2021 as family of 3, with 5 year old daughter. Our daughter was only one with prior horse riding experience. Everything from the room, food, horse riding, activities, hospitality was top notch. Amazing experience and would recommend to everyone to try at least once. We will be coming back that's for sure

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