Close your eyes and imagine this - a week by yourself (or with a group of friends or significant other) in a luxurious, award-winning wellness resort. Seven days to fill your hours with a selection of fitness classes, lectures on healthy living, spa treatments, hammock naps, moments of mediation, pool lounging, rigorous hikes, cooking classes, and delicious vegetarian meals. Welcome to Rancho La Puerta. (Interested in getting $250 off your visit? Scroll to the bottom to find out how!)
I recently had the amazing opportunity to visit this stunning resort and am here to report that you must add this to your bucket list. Or your annual travel list - as most of the guests I talked with had visited 5, 10, up to 30 times.
Located just 90 minutes southeast of San Diego in Tecate, Mexico, Rancho La Puerta is an all-inclusive wellness resort and spa that caters to people looking to relax, renew, refresh, and restart. Though you may not have heard of Rancho La Puerta before, it's no secret destination. While I was visiting, Rancho La Puerta won - for the third time - Travel & Leisure Magazine's award for the #1 Destination Spa in the worldas voted on by readers. Despite its acclaim, with a property of over 3,000 acres and only 150 guests per week, you can feel as secluded as you want at this world-class resort.
Here's a little taste of my visit and tips for getting the most out of yours.
Planning Your Visit: The Ranch program is designed for 7-day, Saturday-Saturday visits, but while I was there, I met lots of people who were there with alternate stay plans. So if that length of stay or timing doesn't work, check out their partial week stays or see what other alternatives are available.
In addition to the standard weekly program (see a drool-worthy sample here) available at the Ranch, each week offers a theme that brings in experts from around the world. It's worth taking a look at their schedule to see if a particular week's theme appeals to you, but the theme's lectures and classes are all optional and are only a part of the variety of choices during each day. Upcoming themes include Family Week (August 3-10, 2013), Juice Cleanse, (Aug. 10-17 or 17-24), and Culinary Week (Sept 28 Oct 5, 2013).
Accommodations: The Ranch offers 83 casitas in six different size and rate categories that can accommodate between one and four people. If you go with people you know, you can definitely save a bit by sharing a room.The room I stayed in had a king bed as well as a double and included a large bathroom, sitting room, kitchenette, fireplace, writing desk and private patio. I shared it with my two aunts who were visiting with me and it was more than enough room.
(Insider tip: Ask for a casita in the Villas Sol area for views of Mount Kuchumaa and even more seclusion or choose Flores East or Flores West if you like to be closer to the center of the resort and have less walking to get to meals and activities.)
Activities: It's easy to get overwhelmed with the breadth of classes that are available not only each week, but each hour at the Ranch! First timers will greatly benefit from going to the "Navigator Class - Balancing Your Schedule" and Ranch Tour and Orientation on the first Saturday to help you plan your week and get the most from your Ranch stay. Over the course of the day, guests can choose from a wide variety of cardio, flexibility, Hydro-fit, Pilates, yoga and strength training classes, mindfulness and reflective activities, nature hikes, cooking classes, art and lectures. Or you can lay in a hammock under a giant oak tree and do nothing. Or take a self-guided walk through the meditative Labyrinth. Or nap by the pool after a swim. That, to me, was the beauty of the Ranch. Whether you want to use it as a kickstart to a fitness regime or an opportunity to relax and pamper yourself, whether you need time to think and reflect on changes in your life or are looking to awaken new parts of your life through nature, art, and fitness, your week at Rancho la Puerta can be designed to fit your needs and place in life.
(Insider tip: It's easy to get overwhelmed (or, like me, overexcited) by all the offerings and burn out after a few days, a syndrome the Ranch staff calls "Tired Tuesday". Try to balance each day with a cardio activity, stretching/flexibility class and something relaxing like a nap, spa treatment, mediation or pool lounge.)
Spa: Your week at Rancho La Puerta would not be complete without a visit to one of the three spa facilities on the property - and after a few days of hikes, tennis lessons, cardio classes and Pilates, your muscles will need it! The spas provide a wide variety of standard spa treatments such as massages, facials, body scrubs and body wraps, but the Ranch also offers a number of therapeutic treatments such as craniosacral therapy, Feldenkrais®, acupuncture, WATSU®, Ayurveda and chiropractic services. You can purchase á la carte treatments, spa packages, or take advantage of specials offers like the current offering through August 30, 2013 that includes two 50-minute massages with every 1-week stay.
(Insider tip: Be sure to leave plenty of time before or after your treatment to enjoy the steam room, sauna, jacuzzi, ice cold plunge pool and for the adventurous, nude sunbathing available at the spas.)
Food:Rancho La Puerta serves lacto-ovo vegetarian fare, much of which is locally and organically grown at the on-siteOrganic Garden (be sure to sign up for one of the Organic Breakfast Hikes). Breakfasts and lunches are served buffet-style with a colorful array of soups, salads, grilled veggies, fruits, grains, and fish. Dinners are served at the table and allow you a choice of two different entreés options. Have a special dietary need? The Ranch is easily able to accommodate those looking to avoid gluten, dairy, or soy among others. For those leery of going veggie for a week, I'm normally a meat-eater and didn't miss it once during my stay. The meals each day were not only delicious and filing, but beautifully prepared.
(Insider tip: Regulars at the Ranch filled me in on a few of options in the dining room to ensure you don't feel deprived like being able to ask for double portions of the protein, ordering a combination of the two dinner entreés, requesting peanut butter or tuna which are also available - even if they aren't being served that meal - and asking for a bowl of berries if you don't fancy the dessert option.)
Ready to visit?Whether you're dreaming of a girls trip, a getaway with your special someone, time to connect with your daughter or your mom, or just get glassy-eyed thinking about a week on your own, Rancho La Puerta is the perfect retreat. During my stay, there were people of all ages, genders, continents and walks of life enjoying the Ranch. I met a couple who had come every year for the last 20 years, a woman who had decided to spend 5 weeks at the Ranch to work through some changes in her life, a single gentleman who wanted a cellphone-less place to ring in his 70th birthday, a group of friends who put away money each month so they could treat themselves to the Ranch once a year. Whether you want to renew, relax, heal, bond, refresh or learn, the Ranch is for you.
P.S. Want to get $250 off your visit or towards spa treatments while you're there?When you make your reservation, tell them that I referred you - Kate Bayless and that I'm a Ranch Circle member - and you'll receive $250 off (or a $250 spa credit) on your 7-day stay! (Full disclosure - they'll give me a percentage off my next visit too if you end up going.)
Momtrends was not paid for this post. Our complimentary visit was provided by Rancho La Puerta. All opinions are our own.