"Thank you so much for having me at El Venado in September/October. I had such a brilliant time and I really felt that my polo improved vastly! The coaching I received from both Julian and Fede was second to none! Your hospitality as-well was amazing and I really felt at home whilst staying with you. I really did not want to leave! I hope all is going well at El Venado, I see the photos uploaded to Facebook every so often and get pangs of jealousy and wish I could come back out! I had a most enjoyable time and learnt a lot. I hope to stay in touch with you all and please do let me know if anyone is coming over to England at any point as it would be great to meet up and catch up"
Nick Lowe - England
"Dear Fede and Ines, Thank you so much for so graciously welcoming me into your home. I had a wonderful time and enjoyed every minute, both on and off the field. I loved being in the beautiful setting of the estancia,meeting your family, and gathering at the table. You have a terrific staff working for you; I felt well taken care of, and, certainly, well-fed! It is a shock to come back to reality! I look forward to returning next year, hopefully with both improved polo and improved Spanish! Until then, best wishes and much gratitude."
Lucia Benton - USA
"Thank you Fede, Ines and everyone at El Venado, for your hospitality and friendship. Julian and Alex for your patience and introducing me to the game, matte in the mornings and the late night bars of Pila! Stephie for your encouragement, Manolito for making me laugh (you can't play pool, you can't dance, but at least you plant trees in Pila!) Gonzalo for helping me with the horses, Oscar for the cold beer and great food and of course little Nazareno, all my gaucho friends and everyone else who made me feel at home. I had a great time!"
Karim Abbany, Kenya
"El Venado is without doubt a very well run and beatiful polo estancia. The whole team is fully dedicated to ensuring that players, regardless of their ability upon arriving, improve considerably whilst out there. The atmosphere is professional and yet relaxed, and the accommodation is of excellent quality. I would definitely recommend el Venado to polo enthusiasts wishing to improve their skills!"
Daniel von Barloewen - Germany
I just wanted to say thank you again for another amazing stay at El Venado... I am now officially addicted to polo and cannot thank you and Julian enough for sharing your skills and in depth knowledge and passion for the game with me....
As we talked about the other night around the fire and after another incredible asado (thanks Oscarcito!), sometimes we take for granted the simple things in life. I don't think I could ever take for granted any time that I would have at El Venado... watching the fireflies in the trees on dusk, shooting stars in the clear skies at night, the sun setting over the wheat fields, mate in the afternoon with the gauchos, empanadas and beers on the back deck in the afternoons, and of course the wonderful horses and afternoon chukkas on the polo fields. I could go on but I have to stop because it is making me too sad and I miss it more than ever.
There is a big piece of my heart left at El Venado that will never be filled by anywhere else in the world. Gracias por todo, Fede. I cannot thank you enough. Warmest regards, besos y abrazos to everyone at El Venado
Lisa Nicholls - Australia
It was at El Venado that I truly fell in love with polo. I had had odd lessons here and there, but never had I received such comprehensive and attentive instruction. Federico and Julian fine-tuned my swing to perfection and the progress I made in all aspects of the game during my weeks spent at the estancia was unbelievable. Polo apart, it is the characters of El Venado and the beauty and tranquility of the farm that make it such a special place. Federico and Inés welcome you into their home like family, and the staff are always cheerful and accommodating. Sitting on the verandah eating empanadas with various guests, family and friends after chukkas is, I know, a favourite part of the day for El Venado regulars and new guests alike. It is a rare unspoilt gem among the mass of commercialised polo schools in business today. Nowhere else would you play chukkas with the gauchos as they train the green horses and simultaneously give you expert instruction on your game. El Venado has become a home away from home for so many of the close friends I have made here. It is wonderful to arrive back and find that some of them will be staying at the same time as you again! I can't bear to be leaving in a week's time, but I am looking forward already to my return in December."
Alice Horlick - England
"Hi Inez & Federico, We returned in Belgium. After 5 minutes driving from the Schiphol airport to our house in Belgium we were already surprised with a photoshoot for speeding... welcome back! Thanks for a fabulous time at your estancia! It was great, you have a nice family, the staff is really OK and we met a lot of nice interesting peaple from different internationalities. Hopefully you will have some rain soon as the "terra" could really use it! As we talked about funny advertisement here are the three I metioned. Actually it are three, but I have to sent it over in two times. As we left a message for your guestbook last year in English we will now write one in Dutch, for all the visitors from Belgium and the Netherlands yet to come. Greetings to all your guests and we really hope to see you in Belgium or the Netherlands soon so we can have some nice dinner in a fancy."
Gucci Gaucho" restaurant CU, Harald & Diana
Beste Federico, andermaal bedankt voor een aantal hele toffe weken gevuld met polo, zon, lange gesprekken, het ontmoeten van diverse nationaliteiten en vooral veel gelachen. In Argentinië zijn er de laatste jaren meer en meer polo-scholen bijgekomen, maar ons inziens is de familiale sfeer waarin je tijdens een verblijf op El Venado wordt ondergedompeld onovertroffen! Ik hoop dat veel gasten uit Nederland en België de weg naar El Venado zullen ontdekken, wij kunnen het enkel maar aanbevelen. Daar onze eigen paarden tijdens onze afwezigheid van een maand aardig zijn aangekomen zullen we ons in elk geval de komende maanden niet vervelen :) Hopelijk ontmoeten we elkaar binnenkort eens een keertje in België.Groetjes uit België, Harald & Diana Hochstenbach-Adriaensen, Retie."
Harald & Diana - Belgium
"Thank you so much for an incredible week. We had a fantastic time, in fact we wanted to tell the driver to turn around and go back once we got to BA. I can now officially say I am hooked on polo! I managed to score some goals in the games we played today and yesterday, and it's a fabulous feeling! Tim has found a new best friend in Oscar and I think he has mastered the making of one perfect asado. We would adore to return soon, so we will be in touch. In the meantime let us know when you are in BA we would love to catch up and meet your girls. Looking forward to hearing from you."
Tim y Sophie - Australia
"I turned up at El Venado on my own at the end of February 2003. My sole intention was to spend a relaxing week and try my hand at polo before what I thought would be my "real" holiday - trekking on horseback in Patagonia. After three days at Federico's beautiful farm that all changed. All my carefully laid holiday plans flew out the window. The notorious bug had bitten too deep and the passion for polo and this amazing country took hold.
From the minute you meet Federico, you notice two things straight away; twinkly green eyes with a hint of mischief and the sense that good humour and fun seem to follow him everywhere. It's down to Federico's excellent polo coaching, his great friends who turn up for chukkas at 5pm sharp at the end of the day and the talented professionals who drop by - that five years on I'm still playing, have my own string of polo ponies and have returned to Argentina every year without fail.
Ines, Federico's wife is an excellent hostess and guests are made to feel very much at home in the family house full of beautiful family photos, polo cups and a warm atmosphere. The asados and delicious three course meals are unbelievable and were it not for the polo, one would need to make plans for a new wardrobe! Guests come from all over the world and lasting friendships are quickly formed. For me, the best time of the day was always just after chukkas, relaxing in the late summer evenings a cool Quilmes in hand as the empanadas come steaming hot from the kitchen. It's with great difficulty that you pull yourself away from the conversations and laughter to change before dinner!
If I have to think of my first trip to El Venado (I've been back twice since then) the following comes to mind: polo with the gauchos; visiting the brood mares and their gorgeous little foals as Federico speaks with passion about his breed; fishing on horseback; playing pool in the village, stunning sunsets and lots of laughter..."
Amrita Bilimoria - London, UK
"Dear Fedreico, Ines and Charlie, I can't thank you enough for your wonderful hospitality and all the care and consideration that you put into making my time at your estancia a memorable occasion. I have never had a vacation that felt so much like I was part of a larger group of family and friends. There was kindness, laughter, warmth, and a sense of acceptance, even on the polo field. I looked forward to every morning and the chance to stick and ball. I relished every minute of every game and I lived for the cool taste of a drink after a playing each day. I also really appreciated the chance to have dinner in BA with you Federico. There is a story for you about BA next time I come to visit... maybe over a glass of Frenet and coke! If there is anything I can ever do for you, please merely mention it and I will do everything I can to help. Thank you all for a life long memory and I hope to see you next year in late October-November. Please give my best to Dorita and Oscar. Cheers David"
David Watt - Calvary, Canada
"Frederico, I would like to thank you and Ines for a wonderful stay at El Venado. I had a wonderful and time and really enjoyed meeting Ines and Martina and Inesita and family. I have not stopped talking about all the wonderful food and great hospitality you showed me. For me it was dream to come and learn to play Polo in Argentina, but staying at such a wonderful place made it all the more special. Stephanie and I are still in touch, and she and I may meet up in Germany next year, so not only do you have a wonderful time riding and enjoying great food at El Venado, but you make friends too. Please give my regards to my private tutor Juan and all the guys Julian, Qui Quo, Martin . An all round great experience - Thank You! Cheers!"
Shirley Portillo - Florida, USA
"Just returned from El Venado back to Belgium where autumn has started during our stay in Argentina. We had a wonderfull time, not just with playing polo, but also with the nice surrounding and last but not least the great staff of El Venado. Federico is a great host who really knows how to entertain his guests, nationality doesn't matter, he speaks his languages fluent. His wide knowlegde is a guarantee for many subjecs / anecdotes to discuss during dinner. Julian, "Kiko" and Gonzalo did not only a wonderfull job teaching us the basics of Polo and helped us to improve our cantering, but also were very nice company during our stay.
They even were so kind to let us score during some chakka's we played, even if they still deny this :) I think we really tried the patience of some of the above mentioned "three musketeers", and we always will remember all the statements of one of them: "No No No No No!, Don't kill the ball!, Extend your arm!, Look at me!, etc... :) If they are ever in Belgium or the Netherlands they are more then welcome to stay at our house and maybe visit the Scapa Polo days on the Knokke Beach or at Kapelle.
See Polo International No 73 for more details, you can even see sitting Diana and me in front of the Polo field. Dorita did a wonderfull job of mixing up our plans to lose weight during our stay :(
It was impossible to resist her cooking creations... Anna was always there when you needed her and even managed to tell us lots of stories in Spanish, a language Diana and I don't speak.... But Anna suceeded with legs, arms, etc. to tell us what she wanted to tell. The gaucho's did also a splendid job changing horses during the chakka's. They did this in a very efficient way which showed their expertise. Many thanks to all of the mentioned persons. Until we meet again."
Harald & Diana Hochstenbach - Adriaensen - Belgium
"Hola Federico and Ines, I arrived back home in Portland safe and sound after a pretty uneventful trip. Thank you both again very much for a great week at El Venado. Even the rain couldn't keep me from having a wonderful time. I feel like I got a very solid start in the basics of polo, and can't wait until I get a chance to play again to practice what I already know and learn more skills. But, of course, the week was really much more than polo: it was an opportunity to meet some truly wonderful and interesting people in a beautiful setting, and enjoy some of the really important things in life. I hope to come back soon. All the best, Win P.S. Thanks for the practice mallet, Federico. As soon as my hand is back to normal I'll start to work on my swing again, so as not to forget what I've learned. No more outside-in!!"
Win - Oregon, USA
"Polo - An absolute beginner...
...for sure not anymore! After two weeks at El Venado I am able to play in a chukker with and against professionals without just watching and asking myself what the hell they are doing and what the hell I should do. I am in earnest able to hit the ball into the right direction while cantering and while controlling the horse (well...), okay, but I still foul a lot - but you know what? The professionals still do, as well!
And how is it possible to improve in such a short time?
Just come to great El Venado with it's wonderful people, who make you feel totally well and relaxed - really important to be prepared to do a challenged sport as polo is. An advantage I had was that I had the chance to do some yoga (after my daily morning swim in the pool) with the more than professional and passioned yoga trainer Emily, and I can tell you, it was not that much easy for me to relax and to be flexible with my body the way you need to be to play polo... But with the help of Emily I improved in this, as well. Good food for sure is important, as well. After polo you need to eat, and at El Venado you feast! The dishes are not only traditional, but also unbelievable delicious!!! You cannot not start to love the Argentinien cuisine there (and the red wine - I am sure it will have a real good chance in Europe, as well!). Okay, let us come to the polo training itself:
You know, Federico's motivation and ambition is to make you being able to swing the mallet the right way to be able to hit the ball perfectly not only from the wooden horse or at a canter on a real horse, but also in a chukker in the arena or the great polo field. And you will learn, as Federico and his trainers, who helps him with his guests (also professional polo players) are hard-bitten and passion. To be honest, there had been days of rain, as well, so we were "forced" to do a riding to discover the farm a bit more instead of playing chukkers - and I loved those days, as well ;-)
Can you imagine a German doing a siesta during the day? I couldn't, until I started to relax in my nice room or next to the swimming pool at El Venado - even for a German it is possible loving it!
For sure while staying at El Venado you will fall in love with polo (or deepen it), the countryside of Argentina and it's people and the way of living at the Estancia! You do not want to leave this place, but it helps that you take great memories and special experiences with you - and as we have e-mail, you will be able to continue "talking" with your new friends at El Venado or from England or Holland or...
Thanks again especially to Inez and Fede (and Martina for her help in BA), but for sure also to Emily and all the rest of the team at El Venado - the two legged as well as the four legged - you are all great!!!!"
Stefanie Schmalz - Hamburg, Germany
"For every polo player who is interested in a true master class in hitting the ball, a stay at El Venado with Federico Cendoya is not only a lot of fun, but also essential for taking your polo to the next level. That goes for both complete beginners and somewhat more advanced players. From my first day at El Venado I was happy to notice that Federico, as a 5-goal professional with many years of experience both playing and teaching polo, understands very well the needs of different levels of players and pays close personal attention to his students. His eye for detail and talent for explaining not only the 'how' but also the 'why' of what goes into a good polo shot, within days improved both my distance and accuracy considerably. Of course, it also helps that Federico's two full sized polo fields in their super smoothness resemble pool tables. But, besides a learning experience, a stay at El Venado is also a great way to relax and enjoy a vacation on a truly beautiful estancia.
It is hard to imagine a better beginning to a day of polo than waking up in one of the estancia's spacious and very charming bedrooms - even Ralph Lauren could take a couple of lessons in styling here. The many framed photographs throughout the house tell the story of Federico´s long and successful polo career together with his beautiful wife, Inès. Together through the years, they look like the handsome prince and princess of polo-royalty. As everyone will find out from the first breakfast, lunch and dinner together, both posses a warmth and a sense of humor that immediately makes you feel at home. Outside waits a garden that in its grandeur and beauty would not be amiss at the better English country houses. Lunch is frequently under the magnificent trees and in the afternoons there is the full-size pool, complete with flagstone terrace and sun-beds, a perfect spot to relax from that morning's stick & ball session and prepare ones mind for the afternoons chukkas. After which there are snacks and drinks on the terrace, as well as abundant opportunity to discuss the days play and laugh at ones own mistakes.
El Venado is home to several professional polo players, which guarantees that chukkas are always of a good level for visiting students/players. Riding back to the stables in between chukkas to change ponies, Federico, Miquel, Juan and Kico often take the time and trouble to discuss and, when necessary, explain plays. What better way to improve your understanding of the game than during those peaceful moments while riding through the luscious scenery in the late afternoon sun. El Venado has an extensive horse breeding operation, which explains the abundance of good polo ponies and makes going on a ride across the estancia a pleasure for any lover of unspoilt nature and beautiful horses. Besides, the chance to drive cattle with Federico and his gauchos not only gave me a true appreciation of the wide open Argentine pampas, but also is wonderful exercise for riding. During my stay I enjoyed wonderful weather, but in case of rain there is both a indoor hitting cage and a full size arena (a rarity in Argentina).
Federico and Inès are living proof that polo is the most enjoyable when a sense of style and humor go hand in hand. I am lucky to count them among my friends, which, notwithstanding my 25+ year career in journalism, might not make me the most objective of observers. But then again, who can be objective when riding back home on your pony together with friends from an exciting afternoon of polo, as the sun sets over the Argentine pampas."
Henri L de By from New York, USA
" I read all of the testimonials that were posted on this site (sorry if Federico added more later). If this is the first testimonial that you see, please read a few of the others before start reading mine. There is not much more I can say about how great the polo school is, i.e. facilities, stick and ball sessions, daily chukkas. What makes the school so great is Federico himself and the fact that he is the "Fountain of Knowledge." Not only has he mastered this complex sport as a professional, but also he has traveled around the world playing polo, met people with the wide range of backgrounds and had Ines as his life-long partner. Whether it is over dinner, polo sessions or drinks after chukkas, you will feel the constant flow of his knowledge pouring over your head. When you talk to him, you will learn life, love, friendship, religion, etc. There is not much more I can say about how great the stay is at El Venado, either, i.e. estancia, hospitality, food, siesta. The only few other things that I can add to this is that the food comes most likely from the farm. Since there are so many, you will hear Federico saying that "they are from here" so many times. It is great to know what you are eating. It does not say anywhere in his website, however, the polo school comes with free Spanish lessons. Depending on your skill levels, Federico and the people at the farm will speak to you in Spanglish, Portonhol or whatever you can manage in Spanish. At the end of your stay at El Venado, you will agree with me saying: Mallet, $80Helmet, $150, Boots, $400, Polo school, $1,900, Your experience at El Venado, priceless."
Takuji Makino, Japan - New York, USA
"Also the pictures I took at the estancia are now downloaded - can I email them to your Hotmail account (mind you they are quite large in size - probably close to 60 Mb. Otherwise, I could try to put them on the web for you so you could copy them from the internet. Would this be better? Hope Federico is doing well - please send him my regards. My polo friends from Russia and I are planning our trip to Argentina now and I would like to make sure I come to the estancia if only for a short stay in second/third week of December. Best regards from sunny Moscow and take care!"
Sergey Riabokobylko from Moscow, Russia
Hi, I would like to thank you for the wonderful time I had. Here's the testimonials: Life at El Venado is impossible to describe on paper. Calm but yet intense, cut of the world yet international and just amazing. The location is beautiful and there is no better scene than the sunset on the pampa while stick and balling of the perfectly maintain polo field. The staff is caring, present and extremely nice. Federico makes everything possible to make your stay unforgettable and to make you feel like a real friend. Time at the Venado makes you forget your classic everyday routine and brings a new relax vibe to it. I really cant recommend El Venado enough as both a Polo school and vacation place."
Louise Owen from Paris, France
"It doesn't get any better than this - El Venado is the perfect place for a polo holiday, whether you're a complete beginner or an advanced player. Federico is an excellent coach and the chukkas are of a high standard with pros patient enough for beginners to fit right in. The estancia itself is gorgeous - a nice place to just hang out even without the polo and Federico and Ines provide wonderful hospitality - you are a treated as a member of the family. The daily routine of lessons and stick and ball in the morning, the all important siesta after lunch and chukkas in the afternoon, followed by sundowners on the porch is just perfect!!."
Paul Volbroker from London, UK
"I just got back to NY a couple of hours ago and I couldn't wait to thank you again for a most exceptional stay at El Venado. Thomas and I had a splendid time. You have created a most unique atmosphere, which delighted all of our senses. We enjoyed the warmth of your family style hospitality and felt most at home sharing delicious meals at your table. I also found the interaction with the other guests most fascinating and stimulating as El Venado seems to only attract interesting people with a common passion for adventure, exciting travels around the world, and horses. The El Venado grounds and the surrounding pampa was a true pleasure for the eyes. The trail rides through the magnificent landscape were unforgettable. I would recommend a stay at El Venado, not only of course to those with a passion for polo, but to anyone looking for a memorable vacation and in need of escape and adventure. Please thank Ines and Martina for everything as well. It was a pleasure meeting them both. I look forward to seeing you in NY in the near future. Sincerely, Azadeh."
Azadeh from New York, USA
"El Venado-one of the few special places in the world where reality truly exceeds one's dreams. If paradise exists, whether you are looking for the ultimate polo experience or simply a fabulous, relaxing, true Argentine experience y 5 star vacation, then El Venado is it. Time spent with the beautiful Cendoya family, surrounded by their grace and hospitality is a timeless treasure not to be missed, rather one you will feel compelled to repeat, as I have twice and hope to again every chance I get."
Dori Weymouth from Maui, USA
"We hereby want to thank you, Federico and your team, for the wonderful week we had in the Estancia El Vanado in November 2004. We were very impressed by your hospitality, your experience and patience to teach starting polo players from the beginning. We were very pleased with the program during the week, which gave us a good impression what polo is about. We especially enjoyed the chukkas we played after some days. And not to forget the nice food we had at the very relaxed bbq lunches and the wunderful dinners. Best Regards, Gerard and Madelon."
Gerard van Cappellen from The Netherlands.
"I have not stopped talking about my trip to Argentina, and most especially my experiences at El Venado. I tell all my friends that it is a trip very worth taking, and that everyone should definitely give it a try at least once in their lifetime (even from all the way over here in the Philippines). When Lorna suggested that we spend some time there to learn polo, well, to put in plainly, I thought she was nuts. Having not been on a horse in more than 20 years, it seemed overly ambitious, certainly dangerous, and perhaps beyond my physical abilities. But once I was there (and on an actual horse) I quickly realized that the point was for me to push myself into a totally unfamilar realm, thereby discovering a part of me that I never knew existed. As it turned out, there was nothing at all to fear. So what if I am not really a polo player (and not even really a rider); just someone out for an unusual and exciting adventure? Under your thoroughly competent tutelage, I felt safe and looked after. If I have a chance to visit Argentina again, I promise you will see me! Given a choice between Tango lessons or Polo, there would be no contest! I a heartbeat I would choose to explore once again the heartland of Argentina's estancias. I would seek out the vast grassy plains that seem to go on forever, and of course that wonderfully macho sport that made me feel -- if only just for a few days -- connected to the world in a whole new way. Thank you for your guidance, your hospitality, your friendship, and your good humor. I enjoyed myself immensely. I believe my smile says it all in the photograph attached. All the best, Liana Romulo - The Yogi in Philippines"
Liana Romulo from Philippines