“What may seem far out today, can well be tomorrow’s reality”
Deborah Szekely, June 11, 2000
Co-Founder Rancho La Puerta
When you visit a spa, most people go for the rest, relaxation and rejuvenation offerings. Yet here, at Rancho La Puerta, it’s not just the body pampering or the huge selection of the latest fitness classes that will send you to Nirvana. Another aspect is the gourmet health food.
In 1940, before the fitness craze was part of our pop culture, RLP initiated the “fitness Week’ which offered different classes every hour on the hour. Although the classes have changed, the concept is still timeless; the essence is a balance between fitness and renewal. Founded by Deborah and Edmond Szekely, who created the blueprint of a destination spa resort only 4 miles from the US border, in Tecate, Mexico. RLP is now the model for many modern fitness/resort properties. So ahead of their time, the Szekely’s were considered a ‘strange grape juice drinking sect and an occult healthy school of preventative therapy’ that attracted students from all over the world. It was considered a ‘health school’. The original mission was based upon the ‘simple faith in the value of living in harmony with nature”.
Founded on sacred Native American land, nestled in the shadow of 3885 foot, Mt. Kuchumaa, it is named a National Historic Site based on spiritual significance.
The underlying motto: “Relax, Renew, Reflect and Redirect one’s longer-living life.”
At 83, Deborah Szekely certainly walks her talk, about holistic health, living your best life. She believes in constantly challenging yourself at any age, to try new things and renew your spirit. With so much space, over 3,000 acres of land, one can commune with nature and reconnect with oneself again. As a role model for empowered aging, she encourages all of her guests to ponder the thought that we can all have the opportunity for longevity and will most likely live to be 100 years old. “The key is to live with vitality and in joyful good health.”
The beautifully landscaped property feels like a private Ranch with facilities and lodging scattered throughout. It is the pre-cursor to the ‘eco-resort’ model, by utilizing sustainable organic gardening and resource conservation, paving the pathway for the region. What could be more healthful than eating produce from their very own organic farm, Rancho Tres Estrellas? A special feature is the cooking class with the chef where you join your fellow ranch mates to prepare a gourmet meal. One of the most sensual experiences for the nose, hands and palate is to go out into the field and pick fresh herbs and produce. You will become immersed in the strong scents of “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme’ with a bunch of cilantro and a pinch of jalapeño peppers to spice up the mix. The cornucopia of fresh produce and ingredients is a foodie’s peak experience. This may be the ultimate food fantasy: fresh, healthy, delicious and good for you.
The day begins with a hearty breakfast, a buffet of fresh organic homegrown fruits, granola, and fresh juices, coffee, and sometimes made to order omelets.
“With over sixty years of culinary creativity, experimentation and dietary research have culminated in a superb all-natural diet. It is low in fat, sodium, and refined flour and sugar -- while high in energy, fiber, and complex carbohydrates.”
The Ranch's diet, which is lacto-ovo vegetarian, includes a seafood "catch of the day" five to six times a week for dinner, and several times for lunch. (A vegetarian alternative entrée is always offered for those who don't eat fish or shellfish). The food is rich and filling while being deceptively healthy! The desserts, especially the chocolate fudge brownie is a mystery of ingredients that feels like a naughty indulgence. The minute your tongue becomes immersed in the super rich, full-bodied texture of the chocolate, you will be savoring this tiny piece of fudgy extravagance for several minutes of oral pleasure. After a weeklong experience with the Himalayan Yoga Master, you will learn how to completely plunge yourself into down-to- earth pleasures via breath work and meditation. Food will never taste the same again, after you’ve learned how to be at one with the eating experience. All of your senses will be engaged in the experience and everything will be more satisfying and satiating.
This is also the best opportunity to experience the abundant buffet of fitness classes offered in one location. The fitness facilities are astounding with eleven gyms, over 22,000 sq. feet. This is the most complete program of any fitness resort/spa with over 70 different indoor and outdoor classes and activities. Including over 50 lectures, discussions, and special guest presentations with renowned authors and people of notoriety in their respective fields. There are specialty weeks that focus on Pilates, or Yoga to Ballet and Writer’s week, just to name a few. You may wear yourself out all day with classes and barely stay awake for the myriad of lectures and guest speakers at night. How about spending the evening in a discussion with Bill Moyers on ”Insights on American Journalists” or a popular talk on “Playful Sexuality” with Dr.Pepper Schwartz?
The only regret is that I never took the chance to spend a lazy afternoon under the canopy of trees, on one of the many hammocks, just chilling out! Oh, I could go on and on about the spa treatments, Kniepp hydrotherapy treatments, the herbal wraps and specialty body products and the great spots for nude sunbathing, and the massages…you’ll just have to see for yourself!
For a virtual tour, check out Rancho La Puerta at: