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“A Ride to Remember”
Review of Spirit of the West

Spirit of the West
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: One of the most unique ways to experience Grand Cayman! Trek along the edge of the Caribbean Sea atop one of our magnificent beauties! Enjoy a lazy walk as the surf rolls in and out at the feet of your horse. For the more adventurous, feel the wind in your hair as you canter along the white sand beach. Try something completely out of the ordinary with the swim ride - hold on tight as your horse is steered into the cool and refreshing waters of the Caribbean for a wonderful swim.The true romantics can see the softer side of Cayman with the moonlit ride during the full moon. Guided only by the natural instincts of your horse, enjoy the peaceful nirvana of paradise where the modern world is far and away!Whatever your choice, Spirit of the West delivers premium service with true Caymanian hospitality. Each ride is an experience of a lifetime and every rider feels like they have done something they will never forget!
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Activities for young children
Reviewed 2 April 2012

Paul was our guide. He took pictures of all of us using our cameras. I was a bit fearful when the horses went into the water, but it turned out fine. No one in our group fell off. None of us were riders, but the horses were very easy. It was a special treat for my family.

Thank MilwaukeeSunseeker2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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386 - 390 of 526 reviews

Reviewed 26 March 2012

I was on a cruise and booked this ride, I own my own horse and have ridden all over the world, and this was one of the best ever. Paul is such a nice guy, helpful, knowledgeable and very patient. His horses are excellent and well cared for. The beach is absolutely gorgeous and riding bareback in the ocean was amazing. I recommend this experience to all.


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3  Thank tagtracy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 March 2012

My wife, two girls, and I did the horseback ride and swim...we had a blast! Paul was our guide for the four of us and one other couple who was there on a cruise ship stopover. The only anxious time we had was when we showed up on time at the Pappagallo restaurant parking lot on time, but there was no one there. We were beginning to panic that we had gotten stood up, but then were relieved to see the horses in their trailer down the road. Paul had to transport the couple from their Georgetown cruise ship port and was running late. The meeting time was 10:00, but Paul got there around 10:20. After that, everything was perfect. The horses were well trained and the ride route along the Barker's National Park beach was beautiful. The highlight was the swim portion of the ride. We stopped at a shady part of the beach for Paul to unsaddle the horses in preparation for the "swim". We were entertained by all of the kite board surfers while we waited. One of the horses knelt down for one of my daughter to bare back mount. These horses enter the ocean and mostly wade along the sandy bottom; however, there is a stretch where they actually are swimming. Paul was a great guide and knows his horses well. He took several pictures of our family during the course of our ride. This is an expensive activity but well worth it in my opinion.

1  Thank Scott S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 March 2012

Everything was a little sub-par from the beginning when we made our reservation. There was a lot of confusion between the booking agency & Spirit of the West. First we were booked & then we weren't & then SofW said they didn't have any availability the entire week. In the meantime, the booking agency had fully charged our CC which SoW said was against their policy and shouldn't happen until the reservation was confirmed by SoW. After many delayed e-mails with both the booking agency and SofW over 2-3 days, 2 days before we arrived in the Caymans, we were finally confirmed. Turns out 2 other people on our ride had experienced the same confusion & their CC was fully charged prematurely as well.

Because we weren't staying on 7 mile beach we had to meet them at the beach site, which was not marked. The owner, who had picked up the other riders, arrived approx 15 minutes late. The ride was much like a conventional trail ride with each horse closely following the others in a line - it was a pretty slow walk down the beach! The water part was unique & fun but most horses never swam they just walked in deep water. After asking a few times, on the return we were allowed to run the horses a short distance.

Although it was more boring than we expected from an adventure perspective, it was a nice take in a secluded area of the island. However, $125 per person seemed really expensive for this. In addition, contrary to some of the other reviews, the horses did not seem very well taken care of. Their manes were all tangled and appeared not to have been brushed in quite a long time. It also appeared that the horses didn't have access to any water between rides. The owner said that they remained tied to the trees where we originally mounted them, just off the beach in a shady spot, in between the 4-5 rides that they do most days.

1  Thank Kim A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SOTW, Owner at Spirit of the West, responded to this reviewResponded 1 April 2012

Whilst we are so very respectful of our reviewers' rights to express themselves, it really hurts our feelings when things are said in a way to balloon a situation into something more than it actually was.

In this case, the customer contacted us directly in the beginning and we went back and forth for 1 day as we explored options for each of her scenarios: with small children, without; maybe 2, maybe 6; with swim ride, without. This takes time as our tours are small and personal and we tend to sell out well in advance these days.

We can sell out between one email and the next so encourage everyone to make a reservation as soon as they decide that this is what they would like to do in Cayman.

On Day 2, the customer informed us that she had booked with a 3rd party agent (via TripAdvisor's website). By this time, all spaces previously listed as available had been sold out. I advised that everything had been taken since our last correspondence. She corrected me, saying that the reservation had gone through and her card was charged by this 3rd party agent. At that point, the reservation had not yet been processed and delivered to us, therefore, I advised her that we had not received anything.

A note about 3rd party agents:

We work with many, all of whom have approached us to link our business to theirs. We do not know how each one works in terms of making the reservations for the customers, but we do know how we work in terms of accepting their requests - and each of them likewise understand and appreciate the way in which we operate.

After a customer makes the reservation with them, we receive an email, we check our schedule and we revert back either accepting (if there is space) or declining (if there is none). It's a drawn out process sometimes and clearly easier if the customer comes through us directly in the first instance. We are not responsible for how 3rd party agents charge customers. We do not see payment information nor do we authorize them to collect before the reservation is confirmed - but that is out of our control.

When we received the request, we declined - as there was no longer space available. We do not see customer names unless we accept the booking - so would never know who the reservation was from. The customer was simultaneously corresponding with us and the 3rd party - an added layer of confusion that would have been avoided had the reservation been made with us in the first instance. We offered her a different time and date as well as contact info for a colleague who may have been able to accommodate her on the date for which we were unavailable. In all correspondence we were polite, accommodating and friendly - not sub-par.

As it turns out, we received a cancellation for a different tour on the same day and were able to advise the 3rd party booking agent to revise the reservation to that time and we would accept. Problem solved.

We provide the 3rd party agents with instructions on how to meet us at various points depending on where the customers are staying and if they are on a cruise ship. Additionally, because she was corresponding with us as well, I supplied her with our Info Pack and Driving Directions which are very detailed. Within the email, I explained that she would meet us at a particular restaurant which is the last notable building before the beach on which we ride. The beach is not marked because it is not ours. The restaurant is not ours but it is marked.

The other customers she mentioned in her review had booked with the same 3rd party agent. That customer had also made contact directly with us after making the booking - but did not mention that she booked through a 3rd party agent. She also cited the wrong date. We could not find her in the system based on those two factors - in the beginning. When she was adamant that she had made the booking we checked all dates and located her right away...advising her that the reservation had been made outside of our system and on a different day than what she had given us. We can only work with what we're given. This situation was completely different from the review's, but shared the similarity of using the same 3rd party booking agent. We are presently in discussions with them to examine ways to make their process easier.

I cannot comment on this reviewer's lack of enjoyment of the tour. It is a hit or miss with people. I don't like roller coasters so would likely write a bad review about one whereas someone else might rave. Different strokes for different folks. I can only let the reviews received to date speak for themselves. As much as we try to give excellent customer service to everyone with whom we ride, we have learned the hard way that you simply cannot please them all - - - but that doesn't stop us from trying!

I will add a statement about the customer's repeated requests to run our horses: We do not allow anything more than a walk on a Group tour, given the mixed levels of experience (or lack of) of riders. Customers are advised to book Private tours if they would like to take it up a notch. For the safety of all riders we cannot allow 1 or 2 horses to bolt off as all will try to run - causing great risk to riders who do not know how to control their horses. Our tour descriptions clearly outline this.

I will close by addressing her assessment of our horses. Our horses are some of the most awesome animals on island and we love each of them like our children. They are fed the highest quality of feed available and washed before and after each ride. They have weekends and public holidays off and every three months we take a week to rest them up. We rotate them throughout the week so that they do not get over worked. We only operate a maximum of 3 rides per day.

Mane "dreadlocking" is due to salt water and wind tanglement. It doesn't take long for this to happen but is such an easy thing to reverse. It doesn't hurt them. Due to a busy spring season, we have simply not had time to clear out all of the manes. Of the 9 horses that we rotate, only 2 still have tangles, as they haven't received their grooming as yet. We take superior care of our horses. Comments to the contrary are taken very seriously. Our horses are not skinny or bony and exhibit a liveliness evidencing a happy life.

We are protective of our horses, our business and our reputation. We take responsibility if we mess up (as evident with our responses to other reviews) but must likewise speak up when things are distorted and exaggerated. We provide an amazing experience and love what we do. We hope that everyone who rides with us can have that too.

Chelsea Rivers
Owner
Spirit of the West

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 March 2012

Paul is a wonderful guide and the horse swim is not to be missed! Definitely one of the top activities during our family vacation. Scenery is incredible and the horses were terrific. Thanks Paul for an awesome time!

1  Thank CM1313
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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