I recently had the pleasure of spending a few days with my colleague Hilary at Rancho La Puerta, a wellness resort located just south of the US/Mexico border in Baja California. Now, I’ve visited many spectacular places before, but never one that commanded such a loyal clientele. With an unusually high guest return rate, I was intrigued to discover how a destination could be so compelling as to attract visitors to come back 30, 40, even 69 times! So together, we set out for what would be a memorable, mindful spa experience
Welcome to The Ranch
The 3,000 acre Rancho La Puerta is located in the shadow of the mystical Mt. Kuchumaa, an area considered sacred by generations of Native Americans. Infused with a deep, spiritual energy the property features hiking trails, an organic farm, several pools, extensive spa and fitness facilities and 32 acres of colorful gardens with winding paths and sweeping views.
With an incredibly wide range of daily activities available, you can be as active, mindful, or creative as you’d like. Start your day with a strenuous hike, or meadow walk (or not)–it’s your call! With up to five choices per hour–from cooking to fitness, art to dance, meditation to yoga–you’ll find more options than you could have imagined.
Nursing a painful foot injury, I chose to concentrate on mindfulness and reflective activities. I loved Sound Healing, which used vibrations from different crystal bowls, Sacred Sound Practice of Chanting, and a Mindfulness and Inner Journey Guided Meditation. I chose the activities that I felt most drawn to, but if you’d like some help, a Fitness Concierge can help you create a weeklong program tailored specifically to your needs.
Holistic Healing And Rejuvenation
Their holistic philosophy of self-healing and well-being is channeled through a unique program called “The Natural Healing Process.” Spa treatments are divided into four categories: Cleanse, Relax, Restore and Energize. For optimum results, guests are encouraged to plan their spa treatments in alignment with this order of nature’s cycle of renewal. Their use of aromatic and medicinal herbs and healing plants from their own organic gardens, make the treatments even more magical.
The Ranch’s diet is lacto-ovo vegetarian (no meat or poultry is served) and includes a seafood “catch of the day” four times a week for dinner, and several times for lunch. They offer a variety of international styles that draw from Mediterranean, Latin American, Asian and other cultures. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style, while dinner is run like a fine dining restaurant.
Organic ingredients are locally sourced from Rancho’s extensive farm, Tres Estrellas, as well as local purveyors. On the day of preparation, the fish is hand-selected from the waterfront market at Ensenada’s Mercado Negro. Their commitment to clean eating and sustainable agriculture results in a healing cuisine created to detoxify, rejuvenate, and energize the body. Although I don’t typically follow a vegetarian diet, I found the food to be satisfying and delicious!
And unlike other, stricter wellness properties, the Ranch is not completely alcohol free. The Bazaar is a great place to enjoy a cold beer or sample beautiful varieties of locally grown vintages to bring back to your room to enjoy. Greeted by the warm and knowledgeable sommelier, Alberto Cortes, we were introduced to an eclectic selection of 5 or 6 wonderful wines produced in small batches throughout the best Baja California vineyards, while providing us with an amazing history lesson about Mexican wine. In fact, he told us that the oldest winery in North America is actually in Mexico. Founded in 1597 and originally known as Hacienda San Lorenzo, it is actually still in operation under the name Casa Madero, producing some of the best wines in all of Mexico.
A Magical, Mindful Experience
Knowing that visitors are so passionate about their Ranch experience, I had high expectations going in. Initially, I wanted to compare it with a typical high-end resort, but realized that this one was unique and incomparable to any other I had traveled to. The services that you’d expect to miss from a luxury property–like unlimited alcohol selections, room service or internet access–actually made the journey a more powerful one. Limited distractions, healthy dining, dynamic activity programs, nurturing spa treatments, connection to nature and spirit, all combine to foster the perfect atmosphere for personal reflection and self-renewal.
It wasn’t until after I returned and began to reflect on my stay, that I realized just how profound and magical this destination actually is. And as I started to write this piece, I felt it–an odd force beckoning me back to the Ranch. Like so many others I had with spoken with there, I felt an inexplicable longing to return; not just to experience the activities and spa treatments that I was unable to cram into such a short amount of time, but to feel the overriding spirit of tranquility and peacefulness that encourages introspection, healing and growth. And as I plan my next trip to Rancho La Puerta, I now understand firsthand, why this unique wellness destination keeps people coming back year after year.