Rancho La Puerta, an Oasis of Rejuvenation
How does one describe Rancho La Puerta, an oasis in Tecate Mexico, a little over an hour south of San Diego, known for the finest year round climate? I’ve known about the ranch for many, many years so when I received an invitation to be their guest I immediately said, “Yes”. Last year some clients spent a wonderful week at the ranch, so this opportunity would allow me to form my own opinions and comparisons to other spas.
I am sitting at the desk watching a bunny rabbit outside my window and I think we are having a starring contest since he is just sitting there in frozen state. I’m so lucky I just got my camera and he/she is still there. The back drop is beautiful since the resort sits on 3,000 acres at the base of Mt. Kuchumma with rolling hills, huge olive trees and very fresh clean air, I really expect to see John Wayne on horseback trotting down from the hills.
Rancho La Puerta was founded 71 years ago but then it was a back to basics, bring your own tent retreat and quite a historical legend to visit. The facilities have changed but the philosophy has not. Human health begins with healthy soil which means good food, fresh picked from the farm, organic, no commercial fertilizers and no poison sprays have ever been or are used. The founder Edmond Szekely and his wife Deborah insisted that one of the causes of human illness was from commercial mass produced food.
Let’s begin with the food. It is amazing what can be done with a vegetarian diet by adding a seafood option daily. The presentation is just beautiful similar to an artist’s palette including every color of the rainbow. Each meal is better than the last and the flavors just dance on your tongue. Now if I could only afford to hire a chef when I get home! Breakfast and lunch is served buffet style with a sit down dinner.
Days can be active or as lazy as you wish. Starting at 6 a.m., 6:15 a.m. or 7 a.m. are different hikes based on difficulty and length, then back to breakfast and off to classes from pilates, yoga, stretch, water exercises and meditation. The choices are endless. For example, Wednesday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. we had 40 choices including various lectures, jewelry design, and painting. This is a camp for adults. In the evening you might hear a lecture from the various authors and doctors visit the camp each week, see a movie, play bingo with Barry, or, a very special gathering, visit with Deborah Szekely, age 87, who started the ranch with her husband Edmond 70 years ago.
Did I mention Cocina Que Conta, the cooking school and culinary center at Rancho La Puerta? This fabulous kitchen hosts visiting chefs who teach a hands on cooking experience for 15 students. The best part is that you are able to dine on your own creations. Right outside is a spacious organic farm are all of the fresh picked ingredients. You get to cook side by side with the teaching, top chefs! We were honored to cook with Peggy Knickerbocker who is a “James Beard Award Winning Chef”.
Before you know it you week is over but if you are wanting more, check out the spa treatments, which were wonderful. Most guests have been here before and there is a 90% repeat ratio which is amazing! This is a wonderful get-away for a group of friends since many of the accommodations like the villa suites can sleep four. Each unit is individually designed, most with fireplaces. You can chose from Haciendas, Jr. Villas, Villa Studios and Villa suites, and some of the Rancheras have fireplaces as well. This past week was very unusual with some rain and very cool nights, so it was a pleasure having the fireplace. All of the units have air conditioning and heat. There were about 6 couples, individuals, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons and friends that fly in from all over the US once a year. I am definitely going to try and make this a once a year happening, a regrouping on life.