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Getting Mellow At Mexico’s Rancho La Puerta

By Daniel Resnik on December 23, 2014 in Other

Photo: Daniel Resnik

Photo: Daniel Resnik

Rancho La Puerta Fitness and Health Resort is nestled in the foothills of Tecate in Baja California, Mexico, only three kilometres from the United States border and just a 60-minute drive from San Diego.

Set on 1200 pristine hectares of land, Rancho La Puerta is one of the world’s longest running health and fitness resorts and is fully deserving of its numerous honours and awards, including its place amongst the top ten spa destinations in the world.

A central part of the ranch is Mount Kuchumaa. Revered by the local Native Indian community as a sacred and spiritual mountain, its shadow sweeps across the landscape throughout the day. Scattered with boulders, it’s home to a variety of wildlife including coyotes, foxes, cottontail rabbits, ravens and red-tailed hawks. Sometimes these birds and animals can be seen on the daily early morning hikes.

Having handpicked the location back in 1940, founders Edmond and Deborah Szekely had a vision of a family-run haven, where only wholesome, chemical-free food would be consumed and where the mind, body and soul could be nurtured. Seventy-two years on, that dream has been realised. Whilst her husband has sadly passed away, 92-year-old Deborah still gives weekly lectures on ways to live life more fully, healthily and vitally.

Getting to the ranch is easy, with a private bus laid on from San Diego Airport. Along the way I was intrigued to find out the nearly all the women (approximately 30), bar one and myself, were repeat guests. In fact, there is an honour roll in the main office listing all the repeat guests, some of whom have stayed as many as 50 times. One excited lady told me many years ago she shared a visit with renowned movie star Burt Lancaster.

Many famous people have stayed at Rancho La Puerta over the years including some of Hollywood’s most influential stars of past and present. Sophia Loren, Barbara Streisand, Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, Kate Winslet, Oprah Winfrey and Madonna have all experienced the peace, privacy and tranquility of this hidden oasis.

The accommodation is beautifully designed, with hand-carved furniture and unique local handicrafts decorating the colourful interior. There is a variety of accommodation including luxury villas that have private patios, allowing you to take advantage of the beautiful weather and 325-plus days of sunshine each year.

Every hour on the hour you can choose from a multitude of classes, walks or lessons. From early morning Mount Kuchumaa hikes and organic farm breakfast walks, to yoga, pilates, tai chi, water aerobics, circuit training, tennis, dance, archery and art and cooking classes, there is bound to be something that will take your fancy.

None of the activities are compulsory and there are so many areas where one can spend peaceful time relaxing in isolation.

A highlight of my week was undoubtedly the early morning Mount Kuchumaa hikes, followed by breakfast then a session in the pool for water aerobics. The first hike was overwhelming, but in a couple of days my fitness and enthusiasm soared and I was itching to get back up that mountain.

In addition to the recurring activities, each week different keynote speakers, lecturers, presenters and chefs from around the world visit the ranch to impart their inspiration, knowledge and expertise.

With all the exercise and activities you do, you certainly work up an appetite, and you won’t be disappointed by the food. To ensure only the freshest produce ends up on your plate, the ranch is home to a three-hectare organic farm and cooking school. The seasons therefore dictate the sumptuous dishes that are cooked up by the chefs.

The cooking school (named La Cocina Que Canta or ‘The Kitchen That Sings’) is home to the cooking classes and gives guests the opportunity to cook side-by-side with some of the great celebrity chefs from around the world, before enjoying a beautiful meal the entire class has helped prepare. It’s an unforgettable culinary experience.

Perhaps the icing on the cake is the ranch’s wonderful spa, which includes an extensive list of therapeutic services. In fact, there is a total of three health and beauty centres at Rancho La Puerta to choose from, including a unisex centre and separate women’s and men’s spas.
I fell in love with the ranch and most certainly will become one of those repeat guests. Please say hello if you see me there in 40 years!

How to get there:
The Travel Café Bondi
(02) 9130 1345

How to Book: