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Mind, Body, Spirit at Rancho La Puerta


Evelyn Hannon

It started innocently with an email from a staff member at Rancho La Puerta, the award-winning spa resort in Tecate, Mexico. The message read, "Several women in our office receive the Journeywoman Newsletter; we like it and we'd like you and a friend to come and visit." It took me less than five minutes to make my decision, call the Ranch, and accept their generous invitation. I'd often heard high praise for Rancho La Puerta from other travel journalists and loved the idea that the driving force behind the Ranch was Deborah Szekely, an 80-something year old dynamo who founded the spa in 1940 and is still very active in maintaining its mind, body, spirit philosophy.

Who would be my roommate for a week of recharging our batteries? In my mind there was only one person to ask. Via email I contacted Claire, the woman (500 miles away) who had been my college roommate way back when. The subject line read, 'Wanna be my roommate again?" It took her less than five minutes to email back a huge, 'YES".


The good karma starts before you get to the Ranch...

I discovered a lot about the positive philosophy of the Ranch and their pleasant staff long before I set foot on their wonderful property. The enrollment process is low key, instructions clear and the tone inviting. I learned that each week 125 guests all begin and end their Ranch stay on a Saturday. This means we all start our adventure at the same time; we each have equal opportunity to sign up for activities. The closest airport is San Diego International where the Ranch staff greet and direct visitors to their shuttle buses for a pleasant hour's ride across the border to Tecate, Mexico. Guests are asked to choose spa treatments via the Ranch website well in advance. This means that participants generally get their first choices scheduled for the times they want them. If you don't, the staff will go out of their way to help you find alternatives that suit you well. Even via cyberspace instructions seem to arrive with a smile and no pressure whatsoever.


We loved our Mexican villa...

Half the fun of any travel experience is where you lay your head each night. Rancho La Puerta does not believe in standard hotel rooms; here every single accommodation is unique. Guests are treated to one-of-a-kind Mexican living spaces tucked into the resort's countless nooks and crannies. The villa assigned to us had it's own private patio, perfect for late afternoon wind downs. The high-ceilinged interior was spacious enough for two queen-sized beds, a handy kitchenette, huge dressing area with bathroom plus a fully-furnished sitting area with a working fireplace. White stucco walls provided the perfect backdrop for vivid pieces of Mexican arts and crafts in happy pinks, yellows and blues. The cheeky, oversized ceramic rooster that sat on my dresser was the first thing I saw each morning and he never ceased to make me smile. And best of all? There are no television sets anywhere, no phones in the room and cell phones are turned off. All messages that arrive from the outside world are simply clipped to your accommodation's front door. Sigh.


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