Exploring the Texan Guest Ranch

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screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-1-01-26-pmFamily-run, extended-stay hotel among the orange groves offers alternative lodging for Texas travelers

South Texas is layered with history and growing fast, so it’s no surprise that apart from the new commercial plazas and hotels lie fabulous ranches and small businesses that even locals don’t know about. The Texan Guest Ranch is one such surprise in McAllen. It’s easy to drive by its rustic fence, unaware that it holds a family-run, historical extended-stay hotel that’s been renovated to suit modern needs.

Sitting on Ware Road just a few miles south of State Highway 107, the Texan Guest Ranch is a 20-acre retreat from the hustle of city life. Tropical birds are a common sight along the walking trail that edges the entire tranquil property. With an organic orchard on one side and a canal along another, there is a natural buffer between urban sprawl and the Texan Guest Ranch. Along the canal’s private greenbelt, the Davis family, who has owned the ranch for 50 of the 98 years that it’s been in business, has planted olive, pecan, banana, and citrus trees. This is all part of the family’s effort to keep the ranch’s southern, rustic feeling while offering close proximity to three of the Valley’s fastest growing cities.

ORIGINS in OPPORTUNITY

In the early 1920s, Lloyd Bentsen, who would later amass a fortune in real estate, oil, and cattle, purchased a farm house north of McAllen to convert into a guesthouse for his traveling sales

men and interested investors. At the time, the Rio Grande Valley was purely agricultural, and the year-round sunshine presented an opportunity for growers to maximize their profits. Curtis, or “Citrus” Davis, as he came to be known, was a salesman from Oklahoma pushing orange groves, drawing interest from up north down to the lush Valley. The guesthouse offered extended-stay lodging and meals, and after years of working with Bentsen and staying at the guesthouse, Curtis bought the property from him.

“Anything north of Nolana was just country,” said June Davis, the family matriarch. However, McAllen, Edinburg, and Mission quickly grew around the ranch, and it came to fill the niche of offering lodging close to these cities while maintaining the feeling of being far away from it all.

“The town came to us,” June said.

As the Valley became well known as a destination for entrepreneurs and salespeople, the family expanded their facility to be able to host more guests who needed extended-stay options while they finalized their business dealings. First, Curtis expanded on the guest facilities with full laundromat, kitchen, and an additional 24 apartments. Later, the pool and spa were improved upon and overnight bunkhouse rooms were added. The third generation of Davises, Doug and Karina, have joined the team and continue to improve the guest experience with updated amenities. Online billing, new recreational facilities, and a beautiful pergola with a firepit can now be found at the Ranch. Karina, who has a background in health and wellness, updated the fitness amenities herself.

screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-1-01-35-pm“I designed exercise stations on our shuffleboard court to make the most out of our space so guests can enjoy our multipurpose areas,” Karina said. “And the fire pit is the perfect place to enjoy a quiet evening of fresh air and tranquility with a gathering of friends.”

The Texan Guest Ranch is open year round, catering to traveling business people, students and professors, medical professionals, maquiladora specialists, tourists checking out the Valley, and Winter Texans. Guests can stay as long as they wish, from an overnight stay to a few months — and those looking for long-term residence can live in the apartments. Offering further housing options, a mobilehome and RV area is nestled in the back with a pond, tropical trees, and walking paths.

“When most people travel, staying in a hotel can be an impersonal experience. Our guests find a home here whether it’s for a short time or long term. Some of our guests have been here for over 15 years.!”

The atmosphere and warm hospitality of the Texan Guest Ranch is unlike anything you’ll find in South Texas. Much has changed throughout the years, but guests who have stayed have a hard time finding another place like it. “Our ‘home away from home’ experience is something we always strive to give our guests,” Karina said. “Providing this feeling for all who stay here is something that will never change, and what has made us a true Rio Grande Valley treasure.