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What Happens at the Best Spa in the World: A Peek and an Offer

Someone had to go to Rancho La Puerta to find out the secrets of this legendary resort. Jennifer Miller bravely volunteered and came back with goodies.

Like many women our age, I’m still working, always on the go, and never without an electronic device nearby. Plus I have a husband who travels a lot for work and a neurodiverse adult child who has a job but no driver’s license. Add chauffeur to my list of daily responsibilities.

A special offer for NextTribers! If you’re a first-time guest at Rancho La Puerta, you’ll receive up to $250 off and a free massage. Sign up here with the code RLP-NXT.

So when the opportunity arose for us to take a four-day trip to Rancho La Puerta, I did what any NextTribe woman would do: I said “YES!” No one could have appreciated this break more than we did.

Opened in 1940 (you read that right, it’s been around since before I was born), Rancho La Puerta offers the perfect spa and wellness getaway in the Baja mountains of Northern Mexico.  Guests affectionately refer to it as “Rancho,” and Travel and Leisure has named it the “Best Wellness Spa in the World” multiple times, including this year. 

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Groundbreaking Wellness

The author on a moonlight hike.

When it first started, the idea of a wellness retreat was groundbreaking. There were health spas in Europe and Asia, but none to speak of in the Americas. Rancho La Puerta has spent the last 83 years perfecting their service: they know how to make guests feel welcome, supported, and have them leaving healthier and happier than when they arrived. I can attest to that.

Rancho La Puerta is located in the gently rolling hills of Tecate, Mexico. We flew into San Diego airport, where a Rancho charter bus picked us up and took us across the border, then directly to heaven, I mean, to the “Ranch.” (Locals can drive and drop a car at the border and take the Rancho van to the property.) The resort is just 90 minutes from San Diego, but it really felt like another world. For us, time stood still in the desert mountains–though once you arrive you wish it actually would stand still, because it’s hard to take in all that beauty in just a few days. That’s why they have so many repeat guests. More on that later.

Arriving at the gate, my upper back felt so relaxed, it actually felt unhinged.

In Spanish, La Puerta means “the door.” Arriving at the gate of this meticulously landscaped 4,000-acre retreat, my upper back felt so relaxed, it actually felt unhinged. What is going on? I thought. Had I really lived so long with constant stress that I didn’t recognize the symptoms of relaxation? Yes, please, I’ll have some more! 

We were whisked away on a tour of the beautiful grounds, then escorted to our casita. Our welcome packet offered 40 activities a day (!) to choose from, including workshops with experts, yoga, water activities, hiking in the mountains and more. We left our cell phones in what’s called a “sleeping bag” and were asked not to retrieve it until we left. 

Our guide told us, “There is no `right’ way to do the ranch.  You can do it all or as little as you want to.”

As Much or As Little As You Want

As an extrovert, I was eager to try everything, to meet everybody. My husband chose to go at his own pace, so each of us could make the experience fit our own idea of a perfect getaway.

After unpacking, we signed up for a guided medium-level hike into the mountains. It was a gorgeous day and, since we were there in the spring after lots of rain, the flowers were showing off in a super bloom at the top of the mountain. What a beautiful way to start to let go of my electronics.

What a beautiful way to start to let go of my electronics.

Returning from the hike, we each selected the activities we wanted to participate in for the next few days. I signed up for the cooking class with the fresh, locally sourced ingredients at La Cocina Que Canta (The Singing Kitchen) school. I’m a seasoned home cook, and this class was for everyone at all levels. It wasn’t just a cooking class but a way to connect with other guests as we worked together in teams, in friendly competition with other teams.  

The rates include three unforgettable meals a day, plus fresh healthy snacks in your room and throughout the property. The meals are plant-based, with some seafood. All of it fresh, and spectacular. When it comes to dining, my husband and I are like chalk and cheese. As a vegetarian, I eschew all meat and fish, so the daily offerings from the chefs spoke to my heart. My husband is a BBQ-loving Texan and to be honest, he worried about the items on menu. To my surprise, he was blown away by the delicious menu. Is he a convert? No, but if I could cook like the chefs at the ranch, he could be. (They do have a cookbook for sale on the property and on their website.)

Mostly everything served at the Ranch is organic and grown sustainably in their gardens. Rancho La Puerta has invested in water conservation and has built an eco-water recycling system as part of their commitment to sustainability.

Can’t Forget the Massage

I love massages and I’ve had quite a few, but the massage here was the best I have ever had…in my life! The masseuse seemed to instinctively know exactly what I needed and had the skills and the strength to go there. I’m sure she recognized that this was a body and mind that could use  some healing hands, and she applied all her skills in massage but also in other healing arts to help me feel like I was floating when I got up off her table. In talking to other guests, they had similar “five star” massage experiences.

No joke, one of the other guests had stayed at Rancho 100 times!

One evening during our time there, we were treated to a performance by a local symphony, introduced by Deborah Szekely, the 101-year old founder. I am not saying the Rancho La Puerta life is the secret to a long life, but it is sure working for her!

At the end of our stay, we raised our hands when they asked how many people were visiting for the first time. There were just a few of us. Then, when the host asked how many people had been here 20, then 30, I was shocked to see how many hands went up. No joke, one of the guests had stayed there 100 times! Rancho must be doing something right to have that many repeat visitors. More than one reviewer has called it “heaven on earth” and I couldn’t agree more. I can’t wait to raise my hand and join the “repeat visitors” crowd when I’m lucky enough to return. 

When I got home, I was asked to describe my experience at Rancho La Puerta. I said, “Do you remember when you were a child, maybe nine years old and you have absolutely no adult cares in the world?  You do?  It’s like that. A hard reset of your brain…and your spirit.

Read More: What a Beach Sunset Says about Aging and Acceptance


NextTribers receive the following (terms and conditions apply):

All NextTribe members who are first-time guests or have not visited Rancho La Puerta in the last 5 years will enjoy: $250 in savings off the best available rate on their first 7-night stay at Rancho La Puerta or $100 off the best available rate on four (Saturday-Wednesday) and three (Wednesday- Saturday) night stays. And one complimentary 50-minute massage per person.*

Use code RLP-NXT at the time of booking.

*Valid until June 1, 2024. Blackout dates apply and are subject to availability. Can be combined with other offers.
By Jennifer Miller


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