Rancho La Puerta (translated into either Gate Ranch, or, my preference, the Ranch’s Door) is the door to health, wellness and longevity. Founded by Edmond and Deborah Szekely in 1940, Rancho La Puerta is the original destination fitness resort and spa in North America. Running strong for 82 years, the ranch is deeply rooted in Baja Mexico’s healing properties. The very best commercial for what the ranch stands for is Deborah, who lives nearby and is a proud centurion at 100 years young!
Just like summer camp for adults, folks come back to the ranch year after year, oftentimes in the same week, to meet up with friends that they met the year before. We met Joan who was at the ranch for her 26th visit!
Even though it’s located in Mexico, it’s actually very easy to get to from Texas. Book one of many nonstop flights into San Diego, you’ll ride on one of the ranch’s four shuttles that leave each Saturday and head to the ranch. An easy 1+ hour to the border, you deboard the bus, walk across the border, get into one of the ranch’s vans, and in about 10 minutes, you arrive at the gorgeous property.
Affectionately known as The Ranch to regulars, Rancho La Puerta is like stepping into a magical forest of wellness and tranquility. You’ll be walking on sunshine after a week of delicious, nutrient-dense vegetarian fare (fish options upon request), world-class instructors teaching everything from skincare to yoga, meditation and tai chi, HIIT and spin classes, water aerobics, PickleBall, art classes, self-improvement classes, and much more. Plus, you might just get the best massage of your life.
It’s easy to get lost in the planning of your schedule, rushing from class to class, not wanting to miss a thing, but you might want to make some time to get lost on the meandering pathways of inlaid river rock that guide you through shaded canopies of scrub oak, weeping pepper trees and California holly. Or, find an out-of-the-way hammock among the outskirts of 80-year-old oaks and get lost in that book you’ve been meaning to read (or take an afternoon siesta). Don’t worry if you forget your book, The Ranch has a wonderful library of more than 3,000 books.
The Ranch features an exceptional collection of beautiful stained glass, Mexican folk art, water fountains, and sculptures throughout the property. Enjoy garden sculptures from artists like Victor Hugo Casteñedas whose work “pays homage to the significance of women, and to the beautiful as opposed to the ordinary.” Every corner of The Ranch offers an opportunity for reflection, contemplation, beauty, and the celebration of our natural world. You might even spy a kit fox if you’re lucky (we did).
All Day Classes and Offerings for Fitness & Mindfulness
From Sunday to Friday, the published schedule is packed with an array of offerings for you to choose from — or none at all! Classes are typically 45 minutes, allowing for a 15-minute commute between locations. Throughout the week, different classes are taught by different instructors, which makes each one entirely unique. For instance, Stretching can be more meditative on Sunday, while more aerobic like on Monday, depending on the instructor. Here’s a sampling of some of our favorites!
After a quick 15 minute demo, you’ll run through a 26-station rotation, spending one minute at each machine. This class passes so quickly and is very high energy, breaking a sweat even on the coldest day. A great quick cardio and weight training burst.
If you’d like to float on a cloud, you’ll love aerial yoga. With gentle movements for all levels, this class is great for anyone wishing to be swept away in a cocoon of blissful stretching. Soft purple silks hang from the ceiling with a supporting strength of up to 3,000 pounds so you can give yourself to the air and play in the clouds. Don’t worry, you’ll only be two feet above the ground. Movements vary from lying flat to standing techniques akin to ballet and yoga combined. Lean back, point your toe, trust the silk, and become an aerial acrobat if only for a moment.
Often referred to as “meditation in motion” and with good reason. Gentle and fun, you’ll find yourself painting the air with your hands and getting into the flow of gently moving your body as if dancing through water. Great for people with tight muscles, chronic inflammation, arthritis, and sore joints. You’ll walk away feeling balanced, relaxed, and rejuvenated.
Seated comfortably in meditation chairs and covered in a cozy blanket, you might close your eyes and drift away into a meditative calm or gaze out upon the rolling foothills of Mount Kuchumaa. Meditation music will ease you into a state of relaxation as your guide gently talks you through letting go of physical tension and stress. You might even take a nap.
This is a signature offering at The Ranch… With more than 40 miles of hiking trails, there is something for everyone. From gentle walks through Emily’s forest of dreams to a challenging 7-mile mountain hike (includes breakfast) you won’t want to sleep in at The Ranch. Most hikes depart from the ranch between 6:00 and 6:45 a.m. A great way to start your day. Alex’s Oak hike is excellent for those who want a little challenge and it offers a beautiful vista payout. The 2-mile hike meanders up 350 feet to an outcropping of smooth granite rocks and a solitary Oak tree where you’ll gaze down on The Ranch’s 4,000 scenic acres. The Organic Garden Breakfast Hike is a crowd favorite: a 2-mile hike to the garden, followed by a bountiful buffet breakfast, then a garden tour, followed by the 2-mile hike back.
Restorative yoga involves gentle, supported poses that allow your body to open up and your lungs to breathe deeply. Enjoy a moment to concentrate on the places in your body that need attention like tight hips and poor posture. You’ll focus on your breath and walk away feeling energized and balanced.
Too often we rush through eating while we work, watch TV, talk on the phone, or concentrate on all the things that need our attention next. This workshop encourages you to stop and experience your food with all five senses. Food at The Ranch is artfully plated with colors and textures that excite the senses. You’ll experience your food in a whole new way and chew mindfully, which is shown to slow down your eating and allow your brain to catch up with your stomach.
Villas Health Spa-
You must book a massage at the Villas Health Spa. Choose a sports massage, which is absolutely ideal after a few days of fitness classes. The main difference between the sports massage and the classic massage is that a sports massage includes some great stretching. After your treatment, go upstairs to enjoy a lovely outdoor hot tub with a cold plunge pool. Then you can detox in a very hot sauna or steam room. Make time to sit in the relaxation lounge, which features uber-comfortable lounge chairs and massage chairs, a hideaway worth your time.
– The Women’s Health Center features an outdoor hot tub, sauna, and steam room. Check out this hidden gem on a corner of the property.
– Guests typically arrive on a Saturday and depart the following Saturday, staying seven nights. Even though that may sound like a long trip, once you arrive, it’s absolutely clear why guests stay a full week. Just do it!
– Casitas are spread out all over the ranch. If you’re there in cooler months, request one with a fireplace; you can thank us later. Casitas are comfortable, roomy and adequately appointed.
– Get ready to enjoy healthy portions of vegetarian meals. With 60% of the produce needed in the kitchen grown on the ranch’s 6-acre organic garden, you’ll taste the freshness. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style and dinner is a seated meal with a pre-fixe menu. You’ll not go hungry!
Rancho La Puerta is a place of healing, reflection, rejuvenation, and community. Guests become life-long annual visitors, often reuniting with the same people every year who are ready, once again, for their annual pilgrimage to reset and enjoy a spa vacation that will not only relax but invigorate and inspire the lucky ones who arrive through the hallowed gates.
Cover Photo Courtesy Rancho La Puerta
Marika Flatt, Outstanding Austin Communicator 2021, is the Travel Editor of Texas Lifestyle Magazine. She began her travel writing career in 2002 with Austin Woman Magazine and now writes their “Texas Traveler” section. She can be seen as a contributor on TV shows across Texas, offering travel tips and spent five years as the voice of the “Weekend Trip Tip” on NPR’s Texas Standard.
Jeniffer Thompson is an author and freelance journalist in San Diego. She is the host of The Premise podcast, co-founder of the San Diego Writers Festival, and a branding strategist serving authors and storytellers worldwide. Learn more at JenifferThompson.com and monkeyCmedia.com.