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rancho la puerta The World’s First Eco Resort By Joe Alexander

Natural Preserve Known as the “mother of the modern spa movement,” Deborah Szekely, now 94 and still involved in running Rancho, espoused healthful living since the beginning, focusing on natural and vegetarian foods and finding a balance between mind, body, and spirit before it was fashionable. But founder Deborah’s wellness principals extend beyond the body and mind to include the land as well; she donated 2,000 of the ranch’s acres to create a natural preserve that can never be built upon. For decades the spa has embraced the concept of what we now call farm-to-table dining. The family employed organic farming techniques from the start, and today the facilities include a full-fledged organic farm, called Rancho Tres Estrellas, serving the resort’s culinary needs.

Mt. Kuchumaa

Sarah Livia Szekely Brightwood Rancho la Puerta resort and spa, founded in 1940 in Tecate, Mexico, was North America’s first fitness spa, and 76 years later, the family-run retreat is more popular than ever, regarded as one the world’s top spas. What founders Deborah Szekely and her late husband, Edmond, started as a rustic summer camp to which guests brought their own tents has grown over the years into a 3,000-acre oasis featuring luxury accommodations, extensive wellness treatments, and organic gourmet dining. Travel + Leisure readers consistently vote Rancho la Puerta among the world’s top destination spas, and did so again in 2016. Rancho is now run by the Szekelys’ daughter, the landscape architect Sarah Livia Szekely Brightwood.

The property’s farm and extensive gardens were greatly expanded by Sarah, who grew up on the resort, but studied landscape architecture and ecology at the University of Oregon. While in college, Sarah became active in Oregon’s pioneering “back to the land” movement, and helped to implement a soil conservation program in Nicaragua and a permaculture course in southern Mexico, all the while honing her understanding of green technologies. But Sarah really got her feel for the land while growing up amid her parents’ natural-living ethos on the ranch in the Baja Peninsula, surrounded by nature in the foothills of Mt. Kuchumaa. “I was a nature child at heart and spent hours quietly observing tadpoles, lizards, and clouds,” she says. “We had a beautiful cottage garden, a strawberry patch, mulberry and apricot trees, chickens, goats, and horses. I learned about herbal medicine and absorbed a lot of folk wisdom,” she adds. “This love of place continues to guide me in everything I do as president of Rancho La Puerta.”

Rancho Tres Estrellas Rancho La Puerta has undergone an extensive expansion and upgrade of its infrastructure, and Sarah started the organic farm at Tres Estrellas in 1984. “Many guests at Rancho La Puerta over the years have found the farm to be a highlight of their stay, whether they visit it via a breakfast hike and garden tour, a hands-on cooking class, or simply by spending a quiet morning weeding and harvesting in the garden,” she says. “Many guests return home with the desire and commitment to plant a garden of their own.” Social Life

Social Life - August 2016 - Beth Stern  

Social Life Magazine is the premier luxury publication for the Hamptons. Celebrating 13 years of print. This issue features Beth Stern.

Social Life - August 2016 - Beth Stern  

Social Life Magazine is the premier luxury publication for the Hamptons. Celebrating 13 years of print. This issue features Beth Stern.