Rancho La Puerta: Review & Spa Tips
We recently returned from one of our favorite spas, the renowned Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico. It is a short, breathtaking ride south of San Diego. Although we were at the Ranch, as the regulars call it, to present one of our writing workshops, we used our free time to refresh and renew.
We breathed deeply, took long walks and short hikes. We swam and then relaxed in the private rooftop hot tub au natural. We indulged in treatments, steam and sauna, and a make-up session with excellent products and some valuable tips.
We took as many enrichment classes as time allowed. We also danced, learned new techniques from chefs, and saved time for solitary meditations.
Most pleasant of all, we dined like royalty on the best fresh, farm-to-fork cuisine from two top chefs and many experienced sous-chefs. We have written and published two books about chefs, so we knew when we found true passion in the Ranch’s lush gardens and sparkling kitchens.
Rancho La Puerta is spread out over a natural sanctuary of 3,000 acres. One pamphlet states that “Rancho La Puerta is where healthy people get healthier.” It is not for someone with physical difficulties, as the beautiful casitas are spread throughout the property. You may walk a quarter-mile to the dining room or three-quarters of a mile to a classroom, pool, or gym. You are encouraged to wear the provided step-counter pedometer. Without even trying, it was easy to reach our goal of over 10,000 steps a day.
Every morning, you can take part in a 2-, 4-, or 6-mile hike or simply walk on your own through the lush green countryside or around a labyrinth surrounded by grape vines.
In addition to its wide variety of activities, the Ranch also features a guest chef on a weekly basis. We were able to roam the gardens, cook, taste, and experience the skills of Chef Andrew Schloss.
We thoroughly enjoyed the peacefulness of our casita. We sat on our patio and viewed Mt. Kuchumaa every day. These well-decorated casitas are private and include living room, sitting areas, desks, fireplaces (in most), CD players, mini-refrigerators, robes, irons/boards, safes, umbrellas, flashlights, hair dryers, coffee pots, and other standard amenities. Each has reverse-osmosis-filtered drinking water and a telephone with voicemail service. Sizes range from 470 square feet to 900 square feet, with patios from approximately 200 square feet to one that is 1,140 square feet—a home for two to four guests. There are five types of accommodations. Each is a private paradise with its own personality.
We both have learned some of our most valuable lessons in life on the late side. But, we have learned. Our first and most valuable tip is to:
- Take time for yourself.
Choose to go to a spa, whether health farm, ranch, or day spa, for an hour, a day, or a week, without guilt. No matter what you do for work, you DO deserve to take some quality time for yourself alone. We learned this lesson the hard way, by putting our jobs and others first, and ourselves last. Now, we know. You are doing yourself and everyone you know and love a big favor by simply taking care of yourself as much as you can. If you think you cannot afford a spa break, think about doing it instead of something else: a new outfit, piece of furniture, even dinner out. Make the exchange for your own spiritual renewal.
- When you go to a spa, bring half of the clothes you think you need, no makeup, and no tech stuff.
Rancho LaPuerta has an Internet Access Center and Maralyn managed to limit her time to under an hour a day. Cell phones are not allowed in public areas.
Because we chose a spa in rural Mexico, our cell phones did not work easily or inexpensively, and we never saw a TV. Because of our work, we had to use one computer, but only when absolutely necessary.
We left all of the noise, busy-ness and modern day time savers behind. Instead, we heard birds sing, breezes from the trees, and the sound of our soft footsteps on a solitary path. Well, at first we heard our heavy breathing, but after several days of hiking up gentle hills, our breaths of life were nearly silent. It was difficult, but we told most of our families and co-workers that we would contact them after a week. Funny how life went on without a hitch and without our input.
- Keep an open mind and positive attitude in your new environment.
Learn the local culture by interacting with local people. Try the delicious regional foods or practice a new dance step.
Although this advice is true for any of life’s adventures, it is especially important in order to get the most from your spa experience. We do not speak Spanish well, yet we tried, not afraid to make a mistake. Please and thank you are easy words to learn. Our reward was happy smiles from the locals who were grateful to improve their English with us. Our conversations on early morning walks to breakfast went like this–the professional Mexican staff saying, Hi or Good morning to us, always with a warm smile. We replied, Hola, buenos dias to them. By the next day, we were greeted like old friends.
We tried many new experiences from learning new words, making our own jewelry creations, African dancing, foraging for, and then devouring fresh fennel from the organic gardens. Once, we simply sat on a swing, looking at a tree on the mountain, and did not say a word.
By the end of our week, we ventured into the charming village of Tecate, to mingle with the locals and learn more about their culture. We proudly wore our hand-made Mexican turquoise and purple vests. We were both warmly welcomed and understood by strangers who became friends.
We were both intent on experiencing some of the invigorating and relaxing spa treatments that other guests had raved about. Brenda enjoyed the 50-minute Therapeutic Deep Tissue Massage ($80). This is a vigorous massage, customized to your needs—your entire body or specific areas. Your therapist can work quite deeply to relieve chronic passive tension. When Brenda specified extra pressure for her neck, the therapist knew exactly how to accommodate. By experiencing this early in the week, she felt more energy for hiking, swimming, and dancing during the week.
Maralyn enjoyed the pleasures and health benefits of a signature body wrap. For her, it was a 30-minute Seaweed Wrap ($45). This was similar to an herbal wrap, but the difference was that the main ingredient was seaweed. Such a purifying, cleansing treatment served to improve circulation and help skin cells replenish. This was somewhat like a steam wrap that warmed you and left the surface of your body soft and smooth.
From this point forward, our picks were the same and we were both thrilled with our choices.
The Hill Team was happy to be one of the first to try the new four-hands massage ($150) at Rancho La Puerta. Someone had to do the research, and two eager participants were better than one. In perfect unison, two therapists, Jesus and Miguel, worked together simultaneously on muscle groups on opposite sides of the body. The balance and symmetry as they mirrored each other’s movements provided the most relaxation that either one of us had experienced. We were in awe of this massage technique, from two master masseurs who provided an ultimate experience.
For Brenda, the coordination and perfect pressure of four hands instead of two, from two seasoned Rancho La Puerta masseurs, provided a mountain top peak experience. For Maralyn, this was the best massage ever—spa utopia.
The other treatment we both needed and enjoyed was the 80-minute Le Grande Classique Facial ($95). This facial is customized to your skin type. Anti-inflammatory plant extracts leave your face soft and fresh. The facial is based on Yon-ka’s five progressive purifying steps that allow for deep cleansing without irritation. We both felt like our skin was glowing. As further testament, when Brenda’s son saw her a week later, he exclaimed: “Wow, Mom, you look younger–what have you done? Your skin is like it used to be.”
The Ranch has a full menu of spa selections for body treatments, facials, massages, and salon services. We, who wear minimal war paint, took part in a natural style make-up application and picked up some hints.
The benefits of treatments and activities at the Ranch far outlast the week you are there. This is especially true if you take the class on the last day presented by veteran Joe Sweeney.
We could easily write for hours on all that is available at the Ranch. They have regular activities and guest presenters every week. The list is almost overwhelming, but it is easy–just sign up for what you love or have always longed to try.
Rates vary from approximately $2800 per person to $4200 per person.
We would encourage you to check the Rancho La Puerta website, www.rancholapuerta.com or call 1-800-443-7565. There are specials at various time of year. The spa, yoga, and hiking packages are especially attractive. They also feature a couples week, mother and daughter, as well as other unique package opportunities. Brenda has been to the ranch in February and July. The weather has always been lovely, not that different from San Diego’s delightful climate. Yet, each season brings new flowers, birds, and crops in the gardens.
The best testimonial for Rancho LaPuerta is its return rate, at approximately 65%. We met several people who had been there over 40 times. More than ten return guest visits is common. This was Maralyn’s first experience and Brenda’s third. They both know that they will return, as often as possible. A stay at the Ranch is an investment in yourself and your future health and well-being that you’ll be delighted you made.