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Mexico's Rancho La Puerta Living Long is the Best Revenge By Joe Alexander Rancho When Rancho La Puerta was founded by Deborah Szekely and her husband Edmond 75 years ago it cost $17.50 a week and you needed to bring your own tent. Today it is a lush paradise with miles of hiking trails and indoor and outdoor exercise pavilions where you can turn inwards and focus on your mind, body and spirit. Deborah, who also founded The Golden Door who’s guests have included Nicole Kidman, Donald Trump, Martha Stewart and Barbara Streisand promises, “In only a week you will learn that the body has an incredible ability to respond to kindness, not the least of which are rest, stretching, vigorous activities and eating well.” One look at this vivavasious earth mother and you are ready to start breathing, stretching, walking, running, swimming and mediating. “World’s Best Destination Spa ” Madonna, Robert Redford, Kate Winslet, Governor Jerry Brown, Arianna Huffington and Oprah have all gotten slimmer and stronger at Rancho La Puerta. This Fitness Resort and Spa is an hour from San Diego in Tecate, Mexico. It was opened in 1940, making it the oldest and to many the best spa in North America. ‘Rancho” as devotees of this luxurious 3,000 acre oasis refer to it has for the fourth time in five years been voted “The “Worlds Best Destination Spa “ by the readers of Travel + Leisure. rancholapuerta.com Watsu With over 50 unique classes including yoga, tennis, Pilates, Kettlebells , H20 Boot Camp, the Bar Method and a tantalizing array of new classes like Feldenkrais, Gyrokinesis, Craniosacral therapy and one my personal favorites, Crystal Bowl where you lie back and let the soothing sounds of the bowls heal you. And when you go please take a private Watsu class where you are guided through a series of balletic movements in a pool heated to 88 degrees Fahrenheit in the arms of your instructor. Think of the Cirque du Soleil show “O.” In fact, these instructors trained many of the performers in the show. Although the morning hikes start at 6:15am and the last lecture is at 8pm, you are encouraged to move at your own pace. All the classes are adjustable so guests from 14 to “ever young” can workout. Mount Kuchumaa “I’m not interested in slowing down,” confided an inspirationally healthy Deborah, who celebrated her 93rd birthday this past May by climbing to the top of one of Mount Kuchuma’s many peaks. The spa here is also world class with a myriad of treatments from Mountain Stone Hot Mas-

sages, herbal wraps, Birchwood Terapy, Rosemary Loofah Salt Glow, Japanese Restorative Facials, mani-pedis and maternitiy and couple massages. There are also swimming pools to lounge by, art and cooking classes and even a wine bar with a breathtaking view of Mount Kuchumaa, which is also called the “exalted high place” by the Kumeyaay Indians who still hold annual religious gatherings there. On my last visit I took a writing workshop with Erica Jong, whose iconic first book was Fear of Flying. Erica, who has been coming to the Ranch for decades taught a writing workshop here and read from her new book Fear of Dying, which came out this fall. The Vineyards The Ranch now welcomes about 140 guests every week and costs approximately $3,500 per person. There are 83 perfectly appointed and spacious haciendas with a bedroom, sitting room, fireplace and a private terrace. The resort has some of the most beautiful gardens in North America designed by Deborah’s daughter Sarah Livia Brightwood, a noted landscape architect. The grounds are outlined with lush floral patterns, cactus patches, vineyards and vegetable gardens. The winding brick paths are lined with flowers including lilies, irises, geraniums and roses. There are fields of yellow black-eyed Susan’s and daisies dotted with enormous ancient wagons that used to be pulled by indigenous beasts of burden. Walking around Rancho is a singular pleasure. Living to 100 Dubbed “The Mother of the Modern Spa Movement,“ she credits her mother, Rebecca Shainman who was vice president of NY’s Vegetarian Society in 1926 with her longiviety. “I think vegetarianism, especially as you get older, is important because the body needs to be treated more gently by eating everything fresh. This legendary “health nut,” her phrase not mine, says it’s the state of your mind that should be number one on your list if you want to become healthy, fulfilled and a 100. “I don’t factor failure into my thinking. So if something doesn’t go quite like I want it, I adapt and change it. We’re talking about courage and resilience. State of mind is very important and enjoying what you do. Whatever your work is, it should be a pleasure, not work. These are the things that are so important. And then comes the quality of the food and then comes the quality of the movement. Delight in the little things in nature and in life. I think it’s hard to be truly healthy without that.” wellnesswarrior.org October 2015 | 103

Profile for 25A magazine

Oct issue 2015  

Oct issue 2015