Exploring the Magic at Rancho La Puerta

All photos by Jesse Henderson and provided by Rancho La Puerta

Within hours of arriving at Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico, I was circling the word “exploring” and declaring it my intention for the week. Sitting in a workshop called Setting Your Ranch Intention: Tips for a Magical Week, I was expecting tips like, “Stay hydrated!” or “Try Gyrokenesis!” Instead, Jill, the warm and engaging facilitator, worked us through a series of questions that centered around our reasons for coming to one of the premiere wellness spots in North America, this venerable spa with soul that I had heard about for years. Jill wanted us to identify our goals for the week in terms of mind, body and spirit.

Sure, I had goals and intentions, like stepping away from the computer screen that I’d been glued to for 12 months for a work project and reconnecting with my husband, whose own work schedule had been equally demanding over the last year. Plus, I wanted to take a bunch of classes, get a decent night’s sleep and try meditation. But those weren’t the words that answered Jill’s questions because her questions went a little bit deeper, a little bit more to the heart. By the end of the hour, I got the tips I craved (And yes, I did try Gyrokenesis! Thanks, Jill. I loved it.) but I also zeroed in on my intention for the week: Exploring!

Exploring–it spoke to me. In an hour, I went from Overworked Type A writer/producer on deadline to Intrepid Explorer. The true believers of Rancho La Puerta—and there are many who return year after year to reset themselves—would say my transformation is the result of the mystical magic of the Ranch. “Ranch Magic” is a phrase I heard over and over again from other guests to describe their experiences, as well as “life-changing” and “transformative.” After a week of demanding fitness, farm-to-table food, skilled spa services, spirited conversation, true connection and emotional learning, I would agree. There is magic at Rancho La Puerta just waiting to be explored.


What I Loved:

The Sense of Community

All are welcome. Young, not so young, returnees, newbies, Millennials, Boomers, Gen Xers, couples, solo travelers and endless combinations of mothers/daughters/granddaughters, sisters and friends. There’s a spot for you here at the Ranch. There’s a reason that Ranch loyalists visit year after year and it’s the genuine sense of community of the people who visit, staff and run the Ranch. I’ve never been to a resort where other guests strike up conversation so easily, invite you to sit with them at lunch or sidle up next to you on a hike to introduce themselves. The guest lecturers are open and available for informal conversations. And the staff is warm, professional and seasoned. It all make for a welcoming community. Highly recommend for solo travelers because of the communal vibe and group activities.  Also great for multi-generational travelers or  your tribe of Satellite Sisters.

The Sense of Beauty

On 4,000 acres nestled at the base of Mt. Kuchumaa, a sacred mountain, only a few miles over the US border, Rancho La Puerta is blessed with abundant natural beauty from the high desert landscape, the springs that runs through the property and the flora and fauna native to the area. Now add to that impeccable landscape design, architecture authentic to the area and beautiful art, textiles and touches that make the Ranch all come together. Wandering the grounds is part of the journey and I delighted in every meandering path, every outcropping of sunflowers or sage. You can even take a docent-lead garden and landscape walk during the week. Special Note: The various studios for dance, yoga and meditation are some of the most beautiful exercise studios I’ve ever been in. Inspiring.


The (Digital) Quiet

Imagine a week without the pinging, buzzing and ringing that surround us every day the digital age. At Rancho La Puerta, the quiet is real.  Cell phones are prohibited in the public spaces and a cell phone sighting is rare. The noise that goes with our phones even rarer. From the cell phone sleeping bags in your casita to the gentle reminders at the beginning of the week to manage and reduce your device usage, it is possible to do a Digital Detox at the Ranch.  For me, the result was a break for my text thumbs and from my Google addiction and my Pavlovian response to every ping. I managed a full week with only one quick check of email that was Ranch-related. It was a gift.

Interesting note, I learned that less Googling meant more exploring. If I wanted to learn something about a fellow guest or the ranch or the guy teaching water aerobics, I couldn’t turn to my device. I had to engage in conversation. Also noted, seeing tables of people conversing rather than staring at phones was a 21stcentury delight. The device disconnect allowed me to reconnect with  myself, my husband and the experience– priceless.


The Exploration

Oh, I did it, people! I loved up to my stated intention. Explore, I did. The fitness, the food, the classes, the spa services. (Yes, I did it for you…) Visit the website to take a look at what a week might look like at Rancho La Puerta and you’ll see that the toughest part of the week is deciding what NOT to do. Top notch fitness instructors and featured pros teaching everything from TRX to Aerial Yoga. Tennis, Pickleball ! Fascinating lectures and workshops. Weekly music, art and R-rated Bingo! Cutting edge therapies and spa treatments. Plus, nutrition, cooking and Special Weeks throughout the year to deepen your special interests.

For fitness, I plunged into Deep Water Workout, The Wave and Water Yoga ( as well as several land yoga classes.) I put on my dancing shoes for Hot Latin Cardio, Cardio Hip Hop, Salsa and Funk & Groove, some of the best dance classes I’ve ever taken. There were hikes (Yup, me—the non-hiker was inspired to hike! At 6 AM!!)  in the mountains that ranged from moderate to challenging.  I tried guided meditation, a sound bath and a great workshop that informed my Inner Journey. Did I need that massage, rosemary scrub and scalp massage? Oh, yes I did and they were wonderful. My husband and I did a hands-on cooking class and a hike to the Organic Market for an amazing breakfast and a tour of the place that puts the “farm” in farm-to-table fare at the Ranch.(More on that in my next post) And at sunset, we’d wrap our day exploring the local wines at the newish wine bar on the property, Bazar del Sol.


The Details:

Rancho La Puerta is located in Tecate, Mexico. Most stays are for 7 nights (Saturday to Saturday), but there are 3- and 4- night stays available throughout the year. All packages include lodging, healthy meals with accommodations for special diets, all fitness classes and some transportation. Specials throughout the year include Baja Summer Packages great for groups of people  or Good Vibes for Your Tribe Packages for larger groups of Satellite Sisters. There’s also an annual Family Week to check out. Click here for rates and reservations.


How to Get There

Flying? Here’s all the information you need to meet Ranch representatives at the San Diego airport for a shuttle to the Ranch.

Driving?  You can drive to the Ranch or park on the US side of the border and shuttle to the Ranch. We drove to the Tecate border, less than 3 hours from Pasadena, and parked on the US side. We walked across the border with personal from Rancho La Puerta. Very easy and safe. For more information about flying or driving to the Ranch, click here. 

All Guests must have a valid passport to travel to Mexico.

Safety Concerns? Here’s the word from Rancho La Puerta:

Mexico is a wonderful, convivial country that warmly welcomes over 38 million tourists each year. Rancho La Puerta is across the USA-Mexico border in Tecate, a town in the mountains east of San Diego. While there has been negative media coverage about Mexico, 140 guests each week from the USA and other countries have enjoyed their stay at Rancho La Puerta in complete safety. Our on-site team of safety personnel monitor The Ranch premises and surrounding areas at all times to ensure only guests and authorized visitors enter the premises.

The Ranch is four miles from the USA. We transport our guests from the San Diego International Airport to Rancho La Puerta entirely over US roads in San Diego, except for the last four miles. We do not drive through Tijuana or anywhere near it


Listen to More about Rancho La Puerta on the Satellite Sisters Podcast