Mind, Body, Spirit
at Rancho La Puerta
When nature meets
you think of Rancho La Puerta
think big. Very big! Imagine a private property that spans
3,000 acres of gardens, organic farmlands and a newly constructed
cooking school. Add to that mountains, hiking paths, and
meadows. With so much space the clusters of buildings have
been deliberately set very far apart. That means quiet interiors
and long contemplative walks when you leave your villa and
head down to the dining room or any one of your daily activities.
the exercise you get on a long meander that is never boring.
There are fields of daisies, rosemary, sage and lavender,
groves of oak trees, gorgeous majestic cactus and formal
flower beds. Where
one ends, the other begins. In the very early morning with
the crickets singing; you'll catch glimpses of rabbits or
a young red fox as they negotiate their way across an open
field. This is artistic landscaping at its very best!
all this natural beauty comes the creative work of many
artists commissioned by the spa owners for your enjoyment.
When you least expect it you might find a sculpture of two
graceful women standing amidst a field of wild flowers,
vibrant stained glass doors leading to a building, an old,
sun bleached wagon strategically placed amongst the cacti
or a meditative statue that sits in front of one of the
studios. No matter how many times you walk the same route,
you're bound to find a new plant here or a perfect piece
of artwork there. Claire and I delighted in getting lost,
which we did often because that's when we seemed to be rewarded
with the most beautiful sights and scents. Just being in
this soothing natural environment is certain to bring one's
stress level down, down, down.
Your time is your
pilates workshops and nutrition lectures to African dance,
craft classes, bird watching and early morning hikes there
are at least fifty activities to choose from each and every
day. From reading in the lounge to sitting by the pool or
going on an art walk and enjoying spa treatments there are
also countless ways to relax. It's
up to you to mix and match how you'd like to spend your
day. Besides making you aware of 'what's on offer' there
is absolutely no hype about getting you to join any class.
Your time is your own to use as you wish. Some guests make
this a week simply to reflect, recharge, and rest. The Ranch
obliges by placing chairs, lounges and hammocks here, there,
and everywhere. Others choose to refine their meditation
and yoga practice or to practice tennis or join a particular
Tai Chi workshop. The choices are endless and the caliber
of teachers, excellent. If you're a novice and need to learn
the fundamentals there are beginners classes and endless
opportunities. Are you at the top of your game and want
to be even better? You've come to the right place. Some
visitors choose an 'early to bed early to rise' philosophy
while others enjoy the evening programs that ranged from
lectures and musical entertainment to hilarious bingo nights.
For upcoming workshops click
here. You'll be most impressed.
There's always time
you feel the need to do some browsing or shopping El
Mercado gift shop is conveniently located
across from the Main Lounge. Claire and I stopped in often
to look at their high quality collection of Mexican arts
and crafts. I was completely taken with the work of Emilia
Castillo one of the country's premier silvermiths who
combines silver with alabaster and onyx in her striking
tableware. Claire found two books from the shop's extensive
Mexican selection. 'Mexicolor: The Spirit of Mexican Design'
and 'Oaxacan Ceramics: Traditional Folk Art by Oaxacan Women
' which she bought after learning about Rancho la Puerta’s
magnificent collection of folk art. I discovered a perfect
pair of silver earrings but they were gone when I went back
a second time to buy them. Someone else had noticed them,
too. I wish I had made my mind up the first time I saw them.
Walk, walk, walk...
Ranch runs an excellent walking and trekking program (40
miles of trails) suitable for all ages and all stages of
fitness. Perhaps because of the pedometer each guest receives
when they arrive, Claire and I decided to make this walking
program our major activity. Each day, we got up before sunrise
and made our way down to the lounge to meet the other early
morning risers. Initially we were a tad concerned about
the difficulty of the hikes but we needn't have been. Participants
were assigned appropriate groups and each group was led
by experienced hiking staff. The sun came up at we walked
through the oak grove, across the meadow and then gradually
began our ascent. Sometimes the path demanded that we walk
single file, other times the walkway was large enough for
a partner and interesting conversation. We tried the gentle
two-mile rolling hills hike and the moderate Meditation
Mountain Hike, a slow, silent two and a half mile trek designed
for contemplation. No
two hikes were alike but the sunlight playing on the peak
of sacred Mount Kuchumaa was always there to provide inspiration
and visual pleasure.
highlight of our trekking program was the five mile hike
to tour the organic garden, Rancho
Tres Estrellas which is cared for by 23
local gardeners. Even the olive oil served in the dining
room is pressed from the harvest of the Ranch's olive grove.
It impressed us to learn that at summer's peak the Ranch's
gardens and their fruit orchards supply almost 90% of the
kitchen's produce. The growing area is huge (six acres),
and the variety of vegetables and herbs cultivated is mind
boggling. For example, the Ranch produces 24 different types
of tomatoes, six different kinds of basil while approximately
10,000 bok choy seedlings along with 50,000 onions are planted
every spring. Now that's a lot of veggies!
trekking back to the main campus we were served a gorgeous
buffet breakfast which we ate close to the gardens in the
country fresh air. My pal and I still talk about the hibiscus
juice, frittata with sliced potatoes, thick oatmeal cereal
and mouthwatering chocolate carrot bread we were served
that morning. What an absolute, unforgettable treat.
Want to work in the garden? Any guest who would like to
assist in the planting and harvesting is invited to join
the crew on Wednesdays. Salvadore is the main man in charge
and it's evident how much this man loves the land and what
it is capable of producing. His eyes sparkle as he walks
you through his crop; in this row he pulls up some swiss
chard for you to taste, in that row he halves a red pepper
for you to sample. Delicious!
Rancho La Puerta Photo Album 1/2