Rancho Los Baños Blog
Our sixth season is upon us, and we are back, energized and enthusiastic after a summer spend recharging our batteries. Already our plate is quite full, thanks to our growing popularity, and we could not be any happier. In addition to the great momentum we are currently riding, Men's Journal recently listed us among the best new ranches for the 21st century, a great honor that we take great pride in.
For this new season, we welcome back to the team the usual suspects; Lupita, our amazing chef, Victor, our great do-it-all handyman, Chene, the smiling Vaquero and, of course, Diego, the one and only Last Mexican Vaquero, back for another season of guiding some of the best trail rides around. Additionally, our new team of wranglers, hosts and guides consists of young men and women from Minnesota, California, England, Colombia and Croatia. They bring a diverse set of talents and skills that will make our guests' stay comfortable, exciting, educational and fun.
After a great Monsoon season which saw the skies drop 20 inches of rain for the second straight summer, the Rancho is looking beautiful. Our adventures have been improved and tweaked, some new ones have been added, improvements to our lodging have been made, new vehicles have been purchased, new horses acquired, and our constant drive to adapt, evolve and improve pushes us forward.
Everything just mentioned has been done and designed for our guests in mind, for you are the reason we open our gates every year, each year better than the previous. We love our guests, and treat them accordingly, with the utmost respect, service and hospitality, as exemplified by our newest Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence, this one for 2014, the fourth year in a row we have been given the prestigious award.
Without our guests visiting us, returning again and again, helping to spread the word, and leaving wonderful reviews, we would still be unknown, struggling to be seen, hoping our small operation could get off the ground. Well, not only have we gotten off the ground, thanks to the hundreds of guests that visit us annually, the little ranch that could has exceeded expectations and become one of the best and highly thought of guest ranch alternatives for the adventure traveler.
Gracias! Let the memories begin.
1 August 2013
A New Season
The start of a new season, our fifth, is upon us, and we could not be more excited! This, our fifth year anniversary is special, for we were never supposed to be around this long. At the beginning, our vision was not believed by some, while others dismissed us altogether. Still others laughed and gave us no chance. We have to admit, the road has not been easy, which makes our success that much sweeter. A lot of hard work and effort has been exerted, but it has been among the most rewarding work of our lives.
Countless team members have helped us along the way, all of them great in so many ways. This new season, we welcome back two young ladies from last season who enjoyed their stay with us so much they have elected to return for a new season. Yes, Charlene, from France, and Monique, from Germany, will be with us once more. I am sure our returning guests will just love to hear this news. Two better team members we cannot ask for and we are super excited to have them at the Rancho again. In addition, we welcome Robin, a young man from Scotland that first visited us as a guest last fall, loved the Rancho, and now joins us, once more, as a wrangler/ranch-hand. We are also in the process of bringing in another young lady to help out as well. Together with our vaqueros and chef, we have as strong a team as we have had in our five year history.
This new season also carries with it very strong PR/marketability momentum from last spring when The Guardian visited us and wrote a feature about the Rancho. This past May, we were visited by a journalist from Men's Journal and his feature on us was just published in the August 2013 issue of the magazine. It is, we feel, a very good description of the Rancho and its adventures. After the article was published, both in hard copy and online, the editors of the magazine, after meticulous research on the ranch, granted us their rarely given, and highly sought after, "Men's Journal Approved" label, a highly distinguished and selective category that is granted to top-notch products, locations or companies based on the magazine's high standards of excellence.
As Men's Journal states, "Our readers seek out the best experiences...[As such] whether it's a hotel, blazer, recipe, a slope or a saw, our editors put them to the test and feature what they deem best as MJ Approved." We are both excited and honored to be part of this exclusive club.
Thereafter, like a snowball building momentum with growing size and speed, we were recommended as a travel destination by the travel editor of Red Magazine from the UK, were selected as one of the two best wilderness guest ranches in the world by Equitrekking, and were listed as one of the eight best budget-friendly ranches in the world by Budget Travel Magazine. All this in addition to receiving Trip Advisor's 2013 Certificate of Excellence, the third year in a row we are honored with this certificate. Yes, it has been a very busy and fruitful start to the new season!
As part of our fifth year anniversary, we have prepared incredible specials and packages, new and excited adventures, trails, hikes and food, even better service and hospitality, and a broader vision that mixes our past success with our future endeavors. As witnessed by our near perfect Trip Advisor reviews, we are on the right path, and mean to stick to it, as always evolving with the only constant in life: change. Like every year before, our fifth should be no different: very satisfied guests, exponentially growing visitors, better service and hospitality and a deeper understanding of this adventure we are all on.
So join us for another fun-filled year full of thrills, challenge, excitement, education and adventure. Come along for the ride, discover one of the best ranch adventures in the world, and experience a setting unique, scenic and fantastic. In the end, we believe we will easily be around for our 10th year anniversary. This journey is too much fun to stop now!
8 December 2012
On Open and Full Transparency
Here at the Rancho we are firm believers in full transparency, which is why our website is, without a doubt, the most informative website in the guest ranch industry. In our opinion, we have nothing to hide. What you see is what you get. Our photos do not lie and neither do objectiveTrip Advisor reviews written by past guests. Also, even with all the negative publicity about Mexico, we are drawing as many guests as some top family guest ranches in Arizona. Success does not lie, either.
We understand that the ranch is not for everyone, and that is okay because it is, in fact, for many as well. In our opinion, our business model is the future of guest ranches, a niche that is tapping into a rapidly growing market. We are quite happy to be where we are. We do not operate under a premise of greed. There is no need for that. Nothing is gained by being selective on information, or sugar-coating reality, or outright misrepresenting the operation.
We think it more than fair, that if potential guests are planning on investing their hard-earned – and oftentimes substantial – money on a vacation on a guest ranch, that we make sure it is the right fit, the ideal place for a guest or group. If a group of guests is to place their trust on us, it is our obligation to be as honest and transparent as possible.
This belief, naturally, means that, as a business, we lose out on some guest bookings and, therefore, revenues. This is something we accept in the spirit of full transparency. Yet that is the point, isn’t it? Because this adventure we are on is not all about making money. It is about guest satisfaction and happiness; it is about relationships, and the ideal fit that serves both ranch and guest as perfect as possible.This journey is about showcasing a beautiful land, and providing lifetime memories and best vacations, ever.
Contrary to other ranches, we put people over profit, and quality over quantity. Everything about us is genuine, and not manufactured or artificial. These are some reasons for our rapid growth and success, and our guests appreciate our honesty. Some things are more important than the Almighty dollar. Yes, we could misrepresent and sugar-coat, and bring in many more guests based on false premises, a practice evident with other ranches. However, we are trying our best to build something special here. We want our natural beauty, our great adventures and our terrific hospitality and service to act as magnets for potential guests. This is our formula.
We want potential guests to have the best vacation they have ever had and, if our Rancho is not suited for them, then this will not happen. If guests arrive and they quickly realize they made a mistake, everyone suffers.The relationship between guests and ranch has to be as close to a tight fit as possible, and this can only happen if potential guests fully understand what we are all about.
If the ranch is not the ideal location for a guest, we hope that they do find the best fit for themselves at another ranch. This is the philosophy behind providing the most comprehensive, informative and transparent website in the industry. We just wished more ranches would do the same.
Which is why we find it bewildering that so many guest ranches offer so very little information to potential guests. How can a potential guest make an informed decision with so little information? We may be young compared to more established, and much larger, guest ranch operations, yet we know that personally, we would want to know much more information than these ranches choose to provide. Hard-earned money and vacation time deserve this, and much more.
In many cases, some of these ranches have been around for quite some time, and therefore rely on reputation. Other times, these operations are nothing more than “hotels with horses,” “resorts with horses” or “B&Bs with horses,” offering no genuine cattle ranch experience or operation, and certainly nothing representing the definition of a ranch other than guides masquerading as wranglers, highly artificial “cowboy culture” and horses that only serve as “rides,” much like those found at Disneyland. While this fiction, this illusion, is great for many people, it is not for people seeking a genuine experience.
Some ranches [or horse operations] in Arizona and Mexico that we are familiar with claim beautiful scenery or incredible horseback riding. The reality, however, is very different. They claim to be a genuine ranch, though not one cow can be seen. Some even transport their horses back and forth to their ranch from far away states every season. Some have their horses stationed in corrals, not open range. Others claim no nose-to-tail rides, yet fill a ride with 20 horses following each other, nose-to-tail. Some claim miles of trails, yet only have 200 fenced-in acres. Still others claim riding in nature, yet are located a few hundred yards from city limits. Many times, it seems these ranches want your money more than anything else.
Oftentimes, not showing the reality of a travel destination is a measure that something is being hidden. Failure to offer full information or deciding not to be open and transparent is an indication in the lack of confidence in an operation and hence, the fear that guests will not offer their hard-earned money to visit. Dishonesty should not be a business model. This purposeful strategy betrays a reality that the operation, and/or its location, are not the attractive destinations they claim to be. If a ranch fails to show many photos, what are they hiding? If they lack information, why is this?
In this age of profit over people, and quantity over quality, a potential guest must be judicious in where to invest and visit. In the relationship between guest and ranch, there is nothing wrong in being transparent, open and accepting to the reality that, while the ranch is for some, it is not for all. In any relationship misrepresentations, clouding reality or obfuscations inevitably cause friction and negative energy. When the relationship is open, based on communication and knowledge, positive energy flows.
We espouse positive energy and frown on negative. We just wish more ranches did the same. To those ranches fighting the good fight, thank you and keep up the good work! To potential guests, knowledge is power.
2 November 2012
We just had to post this link, via “The Arizona Daily Star” reporting that “The Hangover 3” is busy getting ready to film in Nogales, Sonora. For all the fear-mongering and hysteria revolving Mexico, including hysteria about our state, Sonora, and Nogales itself, it is quite funny to see that the studio, its investors, producers and advisors have no qualms sending the movie’s stars to Nogales, not to mention their high budget production. This is further proof, and just goes to show, the true state of Mexico’s dynamics. If Sonora is safe enough for high-priced actors and huge movie productions, we think it safe for anybody.
The Arizona Daily Star reports The Hangover 3 is filming in Nogales, Sonora.
15 October 2012
During the first week of October 2012 we hosted a group from the UK whose sole purpose was trying to find and see the ever-elusive puma. This cat is notoriously difficult to see in the wild due to its nocturnal and shy behavior. However, we gave it our all, hiking, riding, jeeping and spotting through all corners of the ranch [what we could do in 8 days]. In the end, we did not find the shy cat, but we did see some amazing scenery, great wildlife [Coues deer, javelina, ringtail cat, Elegant Trogan, Golden Eagle, to name but a few] and terrific wilderness. On our last day, walking inside a canyon, we saw the tracks of a female puma, with the tracks of her cub right behind her. It made our day! While the cat eluded us, we did find new friends and great memories. Newly installed trail cams will undoubtedly soon record more than a cat or two. Check back for updates. In the meantime, enjoy the slideshow of our journeys this past week.
October 2012 Scenery and Adventures
Welcome to our Rancho Blog! We are now open for the season, our fifth year anniversary! Our guides, hosts and wranglers are again hard at work to make our guests' experience the best it can be. Our vaqueros are busy doing ranch and cattle work, as well as taking guests on incredible trail rides. Over the last season we met and befriended many great groups and individuals. This is one of the best perks that comes with operating a guest ranch. For us, it is all about our guests. This new season, beginning with August, introduced us to many new guests, now friends.
This past season, our fourth, was tremendous. Once again ,we have had a very successful season. Numbers wise, every season is better than the last, and last year was no exception. We are right where we want to be. While our numbers continue to rise, however, the quality of our guests’ stay continues to improve. In fact, we have new adventures and improvements for the 2012-2013 season. New horse trails, hiking trails, active sports, water sports and lodging options are here. We have created new meals as well. Additionally, we welcome three new talented members of our team, hailing from the UK, France and Germany.
Additionally, we have introduced a new adventure we are very excited about. Called “Sea to Sierra,” this new adventure allows guests to spend 4-5 days at the ranch, enjoying everything the ranch offers, followed by 3-4 days on the Sea of Cortez, spending quality days in the delightful fishing village of Bahia de Kino, or Kino Bay. Whale watching, bird watching, kayaking and simply relaxing are some of the activities we have planned. Please consult the Events page, under “About Us,” for more details on this very unique, one-of-a-kind guest ranch adventure. No other ranch in the world offers this option.
We also have several events scheduled throughout the year. These themed events will allow our guests the option of visiting during specific events that might be of interest to them. For example, we have aSemana de las Vaqueras, or “Cowgirls’ Week” option available during the upcoming fall, in October. We also have our Fall at the Rancho, Spring at the Rancho, as well as our popular Mexican Roundup the first half of November. We also have Thanksgiving Week at the Rancho, a great way to spend the holiday. Please consult the Events page, under “About Us,” for more details on these unique, one-of-a-kind guest ranch adventures. Space is limited so plan your stay with us soon.
Mexican Roundup [Corrida] Early November 2013
Experience a real, genuine and unique Mexican Roundup, or “Corrida,” full of vaqueros (cowboys), horses, cattle, ambiance, great food and ideal weather with lots of riding, drives, technique, corral and cattle work. Take advantage of this event to both experience the beauty of the ranch as well as our once-a-year, highly entertaining Roundup. Active participation in the roundup is voluntary but highly recommended. Ride off at the crack of dawn, along with our merry band of vaqueros, observing and participating in highly challenging cattle work. After all, this land is not Kansas, but rather some of the most rugged and wild land you will ever ride. Become a vaquero or vaquera during one of the most fun times at the ranch! Spectacular weather included.