The Ranch is a spa destination, but I like to think of it as summer camp for grown-ups. It’s invitingly summer-like year-round. As a northerner I prefer to go in winter to get out of the cold. Winter at the Ranch is usually sunny, but there can be cool days, which suits me well because I’m not a beach bunny in search of sultry hot weather. The nights are definitely cool. There was a night of frost during my stay.
While there are always a few male guests and husbands, the Ranch mostly attracts women of a certain age, like me. And it’s a terrific place to travel solo because you meet so many interesting people.The 125 or so guests who come each week – a normal seven-day stay begins and ends on Saturday – stay in individual cabins and are invited to participate in a smorgasbord of activities. Each cabin or casita is really more like your own private little house, decorated in Mexican folk style with a sofa and chairs, desk, small fridge, coffee maker, kettle and patio with lounge chairs. It’s not camping by any standard. Many casitas have fireplaces, but thankfully there are no TVs (except in the men’s lounge, after all, you can’t expect the guys to miss out on the Super Bowl). There’s lots to do: activity choices range from early morning hikes to more fitness classes than you could ever do in a week.
Pilates, yoga, dance, stretch, aqua and weight workouts, etc., are all on offer and led by first-class instructors. After hiking and working out, you can treat yourself to a menu of reviving spa treatments.
As Joanne Kates put it in her in her Globe & Mail travel review of several years ago: “Rancho La Puerta is a vacation with a mission… The idea is to bring home more than curios and a tan. People go to get healthier, build exercise habits, sometimes to find a path through a life transition.” (Her full Rancho la Puerta review is a great summary of the experience.)The 3,000-acre property encompasses mountainsides and meadows (see map) and includes about 30 acres of exquisite landscaped gardens and an organic farm, all managed with sustainable practices. Find out more in my post about the Ranch gardens and organic farm.
Here’s an AV-show video that I put together from my Rancho photos: