Are you and your bae a little overdue for a romantic getaway? Vv’s Magazine’s Si Si Penaloza breaks down the 10 best ways to get your relationship back on track at the beautiful Tanque Verde Ranch in Tuscon, Arizona.
You know your relationship is on the rocks when you’ve paid more attention to Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s most recent PDA than your own longtime boo. Many of us are a bit too tethered into the pop culture motherboard, forsaking real time relationships for virtual kicks. Travel is one of the great litmus tests in every relationship; it can either fortify existing bonds, or shatter illusions of exactly who you’re in bed with.
There’s nothing like a dude ranch getaway to reveal a side of your partner that you’ve yet to appreciate. No doubt, a trip to Tanque Verde Ranch can kickstart a stalled relationship. Tanque Verde Ranch is one of America’s best old-time cattle and guest ranches. Sprawling over 60,000 prime acres of Tucson’s most poster-worthy desert landscapes, the ranch is cradled by the Rincon Mountains, Saguaro National Park, and Coronado National Forest. Top-tier instructors offer riding, fishing, and tennis lessons; there are also photography hikes, birding, and nature walks to suit your fancy. Tanque Verde is devoted to holding on to its Western roots, keeping cowboy and ranching traditions alive. Sharing this collegial atmosphere with manageable numbers each year ensures guests gain a more intimate look at life on the ranch.
The real highlight? Some 180 horses available for human-equine bonding! Within a few days, I built a true rapport with Clint, Scarface, and Eight Ball. Parts of the ranch date back to the late 1800s, so naturally Wild West stories abound — ask staffers about the time the original owner was hanged from a wooden beam by bandits… and lived to tell about it!
Time Over Tech: Who knew that slimming down on your data intake for a week could make you more receptive? Technology has become so ubiquitous, couples now have ever-present tools to monitor (read: hack) each others’ timelines. Ah, the efficiency, convenience, and empowerment of it all. But after all that swiping and scrolling, perhaps what we’re really craving is a moment of reprieve. At Tanque Verde Ranch, a week is all it takes to take a break from the breakneck. It’s no longer about the ability to do it all – it’s about the ability to do it well.
65-75 degree days: Unless you’re in Banff, March in Canada is not a pretty sight. Hit the Tanque Verde trails and soak up the Arizona sun, basking in 65-75 degree Fahrenheit temperatures by day and the perfect desert climate by night. Unlimited Vitamin D included. Canadian winter has a way of turning us into a nation of muffin tops, with carb-bloated waistlines and walking-dead complexions. After a week at Tanque Verde, you’ll return to work looking more January Jones than January NyQuil.
Breakfast Trail Ride: Owner Bob Cote still faithfully cooks a trail-side breakfast of his infamous blueberry pancakes every Thursday at the Old Homestead. Mark my words, this is no mere ceremonial nod to top brass “pitching in”; we literally witnessed the man sweating over the massive griddle, flipping over 100 cakes in an hour. His hubcap-size flapjacks fortified me for the more technically-challenging ride back to the main ranch — navigating several narrow ridgelines at a higher elevation. Bob’s father, Brownie Cote, bought Tanque Verde in 1957, and both the ranch and the resort are still owned by the family. In Bob’s words, “A true vacation is one that expands your mind; being able to take something away from a journey is what really matters.” For his dedication and love for Tanque Verde Ranch, Bob Cote was inducted into the Dude Rancher’s Hall of Fame.
Harmony with Horses: For travellers looking to truly embrace the equestrian culture of the ranch, the Harmony with Horses experience gets guests up close and personal with one horse as part of an extensive and customizable program led by resident “horse interpreter” Lisa Bedient. Lisa discovered her love for horses at the tender age of six; her plucky childhood consisted of sneaking over to the neighbors to ride bare back when they were away. Bedient uses her over-30 years of riding experience to help novice to advanced riders deepen their horsemanship.
Salsa Margarita Challenge: Fancy yourself a bit of a Food Network Star contender? Kick off your stay with a classic Tanque Verde Ranch icebreaker and sign up for the Salsa Margarita Challenge. Teams go head-to-head in a timed margarita and salsa making competition with a twist — judges score not only on savoury flavour and presentation appeal, but savvy marketing comes into play too. Each team is given a blank flip chart and coloured markers with which to tout their finished creations.
Jeep Rally: For competitive types, this desert rally draws on your long-dormant, old-school analog skills. Each team navigates the trail in a Jeep, answers desert trivia questions, and hunts for fool’s gold and other artifacts. There’s head-to-head competitions in archery, roping, and horseshoe pitching, all while attempting to keep an average time and find the trail boss at the finish line. Best of all: witness the natural wonders of the Sonoran Desert accessible only by a four-wheel, open-air Jeep.
Team Penning: Mingle with other couples and start your morning with Team Penning – a friendly, timed competition between cattle and guests on horseback. Teams of four riders are matched against a herd of five to eight uncooperative cattle. Each team’s goal is to maneuver the cattle through a series of obstacles in the fastest time. After honing team chemistry and communication, the penning finale is a thrill for even the most jaded city slicker.
Guided Astronomy Tour: It’s time to put down the iPad and hold hands again. Unwind with an evening under the stars in an intimate guided astronomy tour. Arizona is known as “The Astronomy Capital of the World.” Red LED lighting illuminates the area around the telescopes for safety and ambiance. Tour guides use a powerful green laser to point out the constellations and bright stars.
Wine, Dine, Ride, and Romance: After a hamstring-throttling ride, what better way to canoodle than the pool and hot tub. Later, retire to your hacienda after a hearty dinner; with no flatscreens in the room, there’s nothing to do but commune with with your partner. Tanque Verde’s cozy accommodations boast authentic comforts, with vivid stories behind the rustic leather furniture and hammered copper top tables. The Tarahumara of Mexico, who live in remote villages high in the Sierra Madre Mountains, handcrafted many of the chairs featured in the guest rooms — each emerged from the peaks on the back of a donkey before arriving to the ranch.
Giddy Up… I Do!: Who knows, all the fresh air and renewed eye contact just might spark up commitment overtures. The Knot Magazine recently named Tanque Verde Ranch in their “The Knot’s Best of Weddings Award for 2015” and Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame goes to venues that have received the coveted award four or more times, putting the ranch into the top 1% of glowing reviews from brides themselves. The staff here take great pride in creating an unparalleled experience for generations of families celebrating special events. Tanque Verde Ranch offers seven unique spaces, indoor as well as outdoor, all leveraging sublime desert and mountain vistas and an abiding Southwestern feel.
Which would you choose to do with your partner at Tanque Verde Ranch? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe.