Rancho La Puerta Spa
Although we wouldn’t recommend cutting corners when it comes to your health and well-being, we certainly don’t mind a good bargain now and then, especially when that value locale is Rancho la Puerta in Tecate, Mexico, just three miles south of California's border. An entire week of relaxation, adventure, great food, restful sleep and awe-inspiring surroundings can be yours.
The former wellness camp that Edmond and Deborah Szekely founded in 1940 — when participants seeking a healthy lifestyle were considered eccentric — now boasts the finest facilities that were designed by Sarah Livia Brightwood (the founders' daughter). Once settled into your spacious stucco, red tiled roof casita with wooden beams, arched windows, terra cotta tiles and authentic Mexican folk art, head to the dining room to experience a buffet lunch featuring a variety of farm fresh specialties (fish and seafood supplement an abundance of vegetarian choices).
Even going to the dining room is an opportunity to walk along pathways scented by wild lilac, artemisia and sage and past fountains, cactus gardens and indigenous floral plantings. En route to activities, you'll discover pathways that lead to unexpected finds that feed the spirit: a pond, an olive grove or a garden. The 3,000-acre chaparral covered campus offers miles of hiking trails, where coyotes, cottontail rabbits and foxes roam among huge granite boulders, and where some of the greatest diversity of bird species can be found. The awe-inspiring backdrop — the sacred 3,885-foot Mount Kuchumaa, which was the first natural feature in the U.S. to be recognized as a National Historic Site — is also the destination for the most challenging hike.
Or opt for an Organic Garden Breakfast Hike to La Cocina que Canta — the culinary center and organic farm. Begin your morning with a stretch or a walk and then fill your day with some of the many mind/body/spirit daily activities. At "The Ranch," some seek an inner journey and practice meditation, Tai Chi, yoga, silent dinner and the solitude of walking the labyrinth. You can also relish in the camaraderie that group activities — including organic gardening, cooking and dancing — encourage. A la carte spa treatments, tennis lessons or cooking classes add to the experience.