Chronological / Destinations / Hotels & Resorts / Texas / United States

Rancho Cortez. . . More than a guest ranch!

When taking business trips, we always like to take a few extra days. We decided to venture the Hill Country of Texas, Bandera, "The Cowboy Capital of the World."

Bandera is a little over an hour from San Antonio. This small western town with saloons, western clothing stores, and a general store that serves a great root beer float, boasts over 10 guest/dude ranches. Each one usually focuses on one aspect of expertise.

Horses, horses, horses

Reading a press release on a fitness program offered at Rancho Cortez, my husband Norm and I determined we could use such a regime. In addition to healthy food, strength training, hiking and trail riding, the hook for me was yoga on horseback. Now, I hadn’t been on a pony since the 40’s, so yoga on a horse was an exciting challenge.

It was all I hoped. The instructor, Stephanie, had been riding since she was three. Her explanations and instructions while on the horse were great. By the end of my hour lesson, I was controlling the horse and trotting around the ring. Even though I don’t see future galloping on my horizon, this experience gave me a tremendous sense of accomplishment and made my trail rides easier.

The dichotomy at the ranch is that Larry Cortez runs the dude ranch program and Mary Cortez heads up the fitness track.

Due to my love of food and wine, I’ve participated out of necessity in many well-known fitness retreats. Norm and I both agreed that Mary gave us the most thorough and easily understood strength training instructions we’ve experienced. She focused on what you can do in your own home.

The fitness program food was adequate and I’m confident it will improve with time. The rooms were simple and clean and we had a great king size bed. TV was available in a game room or in the dining hall. Wireless internet was also available in the dining hall.

Other interesting features of Rancho Cortez are children’s programs, cattle roundups, hayrides, campfires, overnight trail rides, or relaxing by the heated pool and hot tub. Rancho Cortez’s 250 acres back up to 5500 acres of the Hill Country State Natural Area. The park contains over 40 miles of trails and beautiful settings.

Many families split the program. Some can be active in dude ranch activities, while other members can take advantage of fitness opportunities.

Many different specials. Its contact information is: Rancho Cortez, 872 Hay Hollar Road, Bandera, Texas. Outside of Texas call 1-866-797-9339. In Texas call 1-830-796-9339, e-mail:, or It’s a fun get-a-way.


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