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Golden Door - Spa Review

SoCal-Style Spa Camaraderie and Self-Care

by Irvina Lew

An herb-scented labyrinth at Southern California’s Golden Door
An herb-scented labyrinth at Southern California’s Golden Door

For many moms, Mother's Day is time for breakfast in bed, kiddie cuddles, handcrafted gifts and, perhaps, a restaurant meal. For moms at Southern California’s Golden Door, it’s about finding the antidote to "doing for others" during eight extraordinary days of nurturing, pampering and self-care—alongside fewer than forty fellow spa-goers.

Beyond its famed golden entry doors, in a serene setting studded with citrus-scented paths, Japanese lanterns and an herb-scented labyrinth, moms receive an exquisite breakfast-in-bed tray every morning, have items left in the laundry bag each morning returned freshly washed and folded each afternoon, and—best of all—receive the masseur or masseuse when he/she arrives for the "en suite" massage each day.

At the Golden Door, each guest is continually inspired by its creator, Deborah Szekely. Mother's Day is an appropriate time to acknowledge the woman considered to be the "mother" of the U.S. spa industry. Szekely, who launched the landmark facility in 1958 and has been tweaking it to perfection for fifty years, started the spa revolution at Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico with her late husband when she was still a teen. She conceived of the Golden Door as a marvelous, minimalist wellness retreat and fashioned it like a Japanese inn, or ryokan, with raked sand gardens, a koi pond and a stream. She had it constructed in Escondido, CA, an idyllic area rich with avocado groves and with a temperate, subtropical climate in San Diego's North County.

Moms receive an exquisite breakfast-in-bed tray every morning
Golden Door spa's famed golden entry doors, in a serene setting studded with citrus-scented paths, Japanese lanterns
Moms receive an exquisite breakfast-in-bed tray every morning
Golden Door spa's famed golden entry doors, in a serene setting

At “The Door,” she raised the bar of spa cuisine, personal service and pampering treatments while maintaining the joy-filled approach to fitness that is the hallmark at the ranch. Although now owned by LXR Luxury Resorts & Hotels, "The Door" bears Szekely's imprint in every detail and—much to guests' delight—Szekely still appears at the spa most weeks, despite being in her mid-80s. Guests also love that she occasionally drops in for after-dinner educational hours, having a "conversation" with guests, sharing medical information from the news clippings she studies (particularly about women's health), the wellness lifestyle, organic foods, portion size and the importance of exercise. (She watches movies on her tread mill and walks each day.) We've been lucky to have been personally inspired and influenced by her wisdom, her life and her long career as a leading fitness authority and health advocate.

There's tranquility at Golden Door and silence prevails during Tai Chi and labyrinth, but happiness abounds in dance classes, personal training sessions and countless other activities. During the week, moms giggle like kids doing water aerobics, whisper like school girls on long morning hikes, sigh like babies during daily in-room massages, preen in front of mirrors after a facial or make-up session and share secrets like teens during quiet moments. Along with the physical and emotional improvement that takes place, a feeling grows between the first Sunday's arrival to the following Sunday's departure: it's called camaraderie, and it takes the full eight days experience to acquire this camp-like camaraderie between guests. It’s so strong, that it reduces stress to the extent that we can actually notice the difference on our campmates' faces.

The week at this very special destination spa resort prepares us moms to go home happier, fitter and much more ready to give our very best to those we love most.

Golden Door
Escondido, CA 92046
760-744-5777, 800-424-0777
www.goldendoor.com/escondido


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