Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico is a grandmother of spas. It opened in 1940 as a rustic retreat for “health nuts”. In those days, there were few amenities in this high desert ranch, but hardy souls just kept on coming. The ranch grew and so did its loyal customer base. Now, 66 years later, RLP is one of the premier Spa destinations in the Western hemisphere.
I have been going to Rancho La Puerta (RLP) for years. In fact, this is my 14th trip to the Ranch. Some of you may be wondering why I would pay good money to go to a place where the highlight of the day is getting up at 6 am for a strenuous hike up Mt. Kuchumaa. This is followed by hour after hour of exercise classes, ranging from weight training to cardio circuit training to yoga. The food is primarily vegetarian, although there are fish options most nights. And, there is no alcohol most days of the week (although lot’s of guests arrive with bottles or even cases of wine sequestered in their luggage). What is the lure?
Why do I keep going back?
There are many wonderful things about RLP that keep me coming back. Chief among them are the people who come here. They are some of the most interesting people I have ever met on a vacation. There are judges and authors. There are brand new entrepreneurs and retired chefs. This week, world-renowned journalist and columnist, Georgeanne Geyer, who has interviewed many of the world’s most notorious leaders, including Saddam Hussein and the Ayatollah Khomeini, is here. And, authors Erica Jong (“Fear of Flying“) and Naomi Wolf (“The Beauty Myth“) are also here. I have met professors and middle school teachers. Small business owners and stay-at-home moms. Everyone is friendly and everyone is making new friends.
The Ranch has an integrated approach
Another thing I love about the Ranch is the integrated approach to weight loss, fitness, and eating healthy. This is not a fat farm. It is a health farm. Taking a yoga class or a nutrition class is as valued as sweating your way through the spinning class. There are spa services to pamper yourself, including a range of massages and wraps.
There is also an emphasis on taking the Ranch home. One of the founders, a robustly healthy 84-year old Deborah Szekeley chatted with some of us last night. She talked about how important it is to honor your body by eating well (fresh, locally produced food) and eating right (women are served portions half the size of men). She talked about not dieting, but eating what you need to live an active life. She also talked about how you need to decrease your intake as you age because you naturally slow down your physical activity. Physical activity and food intake need to be balanced she stresses. (Hey, we know that.)
Every few years, she told us, she “gives up” a favorite food. She also talked about the need to continue to learn and be excited about what is going on in her life. At the age of 60, she left Rancho La Puerta and set out to get a job in Washington DC. She ended up being appointed President of a federal agency…at age 60…with no prior government experience! Deborah’s philosophy and way of living are reflected in everything at the Ranch. You leave feeling empowered to continue to live every day in a way that honors your body and keeps you as healthy as you can be.
So, that says it all. The Ranch is a very special place. That is why I keep coming back. If you would like to learn more about the Ranch, go to their website: www.rancholapuerta.com. That’s it for now. I am off to lunch…(good food, good people, a really good time).