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Where Wellness Travel Began

By Vitina |Comments: 0 | February 27, 2017

Ever wonder where the idea of wellness travel started?

To be honest, I never really thought about it. Yet I somehow ended up at the place it all began in the western hemisphere.

I touched down into San Diego airport early Saturday morning. I arrived to the baggage carrousel, grabbed my suitcase (nope, didn’t travel with my backpack this time!) and when I turned around to see the “Rancho La Puerta” banner I knew the adventure was just beginning.

The bus from the Ranch picked up all the guests who just flew in. We drove an hour through windy desert roads until we got to the Mexico border. This is where our first “activity” began. Which was getting off the bus, grabbing our suitcase and walking it across the border. There was another van waiting for us on the other side, and only a 15-minute drive to our destination.

We drove up to the gates that opened up into 3000 acres of new exploratory territory! We were greeted with some fresh lemonade and a cold towel, and then brought up to our rooms.
I quickly unpacked and changed so I could head out to explore. I pictured myself as Alice (as in Alice in Wonderland) taking different unknown paths (for Alice it would be more like rabbit holes) that would lead to different but equally as majestic landscapes. The wild flowers, the butterflies, the birds, the animals, the lush tress and the mountains in the near distance… I felt like I was in a real life fairytale.

The adventures really started the following morning.

My 5:30am alarm went off for my first, what felt like mindful adult summer camp, kick off hike. I chose this first hike because it was on the “Pilgrim” trail. The name was too perfect not to do! This hike was considered “challenging” but they also offer moderate and advanced hikes.

The amount of fitness classes and activities offered every hour is incredible, sometimes having up to 7 activities to choose from. While this may be overwhelming for some, they do offer consultations at the beginning of your stay to help you choose the best classes and activities suited to your physical and personal needs.

My Favourite Activities:

I really wish I could have stayed the full week to get a good sense of all the activities, but these were my favourites from what I got to try!

  • Organic Garden Breakfast Hike! (A MUST DO)
  • Any of the morning hikes really!
  • Sound Healing – I wish they had this available everyday
  • Morning Meditation – JD was so knowledgeable, especially if you are a newbie to meditation practice
  • Yoga: Level 2 – Nathan was the instructor and has the best adjustments!
  • Gyrokinesis – This was the first time I ever heard or tried this. It was so incredible to start moving and mobilizing the spine
  • Design your own jewelry – love getting a little creative
  • Rancho La Puerta’s Guest Reception – Don’t miss out on Sangria and incredible guacamole

The Food Experience:

Both the breakfast and the lunch are buffet style. With fresh juices, natural teas, delicious foods made with their fresh veggies and fruits, with dairy and gluten-free options. There is something for everyone.

Now was dinner ever a treat! Served à la carte style with four courses and a choice between two mains. With an option to try a little bit of both main courses which may or may not have happened on more than one occasion for me! My favourite part about dinner, beyond the delicious food, was the opportunity to choose to sit alone or be seated at a larger table to mingle and dine with some of the other guests. It’s a great option especially because there are a lot of solo travellers that come to the Ranch.

There is no room for “cheating” on your diet! That’s unless you take a hike up to Bazar del Sol for some local wine, which I must say is incredible. That’s where your self-discipline will need to kick in if you’re a wine lover like me – only one glass vs. getting a bottle.

Overall Experience:

Edmond Szekely and his young wife Deborah, founders of the ranch, were before their time. They opened Rancho La Puerta in June of 1940. Their vision was to integrate ancient verities of health and wisdom into the vital new 20th-century lifestyle.

I’m sure what Rancho La Puerta has become today is greater than what they dreamed. Almost every guest that I spoke to had been there 5+, 10+, 25+ times. They must be doing something right!

The Ranch is a perfect wellness getaway for solo travellers and also great to experience as a group. The retreat starts every Saturday with an option to stay a full week or until Wednesday.

The one thing I would have loved as an entrepreneur attending was the option to turn on WiFi in the rooms. I know, it sounds a little counterproductive considering the main reason to attend is to disconnect from technology. While they do offer a sturdy WiFi connection in the lounges, it was a bit of a hassle to find time between activities to bring my laptop to and from the room. Sometimes it’s more settling to check in on emails for an hour to calm the mind to make it easier to be present in meditation or in other activities I’m participating in! Rancho La Puerta is just about finished building 3 upgraded accommodations which will have the option for WiFi. Next steps will hopefully be to have the OPTION to turn it on for guests in the other rooms.

Dreaming of my next experience back at the Ranch!

Looking to go solo or take a group as a retreat leader? Get in touch!

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