Chef Jesús González
At A Glance
FOUNDING: 1940, Tecate, Baja California, Mexico. The world’s first fitness resort and spa –
the progenitor of what is now called a “destination spa”.
NAME: “Ranch of the Door” – named for two arching oaks; the “door” to the original Rancho La Puerta campsite. Also named for an early 20th century railroad siding located in the pass between our mountain town and the coast.
LOCATION: In Mexico, just three miles from the U.S. border. The Ranch is 40 miles southeast from San Diego; a one-hour drive. The Ranch is a three-hour drive from Los Angeles.
FOUNDERS: Edmond (d. 1979), a philosopher, writer, and biochemist, and Deborah Szekely, who later founded the legendary Golden Door, and is now the doyen of the modern spa movement. In addition to her 66 years in the fitness and wellness business, her innovative project for America’s inner cities, Eureka Communities, has won the support of Bill Moyers (Chairman of Eureka’s National Advisory Board). An acknowledged social activist and recipient of numerous national and international awards, Deborah is – most recently – the founder of the Immigration Museum of New Americans. (Complete biography available.)
MANAGEMENT: Still family owned and family run. Sarah Livia Brightwood, daughter of the founders, is the Ranch’s designer, responsible for its gardens, buildings, and the creator of her organic farm, Tres Estrellas. General Manager Roberto Arjona joined the company in 2004. Deborah Szekely continues as the Ranch’s Creative Director.
PROGRAM: A balance of Mind/Body/Spirit. The classic 7- day visit, a Saturday-to-Saturday program first developed at Rancho La Puerta, is an equal mix of active challenging exercise, stretching, and relaxation, which ranges from meditation and massage to simply enjoying the pleasures of a sunny patio or a shady hammock. Each “Fitness Day” is an exhilarating blend of all three elements. The Ranch is known as “the Friendly Spa,” for the unique blend of camaraderie and opportunities for profound quiet, contemplation, and renewal.
MINDFULNESS PRACTICE: Meditation, organic gardening, labyrinth, movement as metaphor, chanting, Tai Chi, yoga, prayer arrow affirmations, dancing, reflexology footpath, silent dinner and Inner Journey.
CLIMATE: An ideal year-round climate: temperate, with over 340 sunny days a year and starry nights. Winters are sunny and summers mild and dry, with very low humidity and a pleasant prevailing breeze.
“TRES ESTRELLAS” ORGANIC GARDEN: Five acres located north of the main Ranch area (and reached by our “Breakfast Hikes”). The name means “Three Stars.” The creation of Sarah Livia Brightwood, it produces most of the fresh vegetables for the Rancho La Puerta kitchen using organic gardening and companion plantings. It is also the site of the Ranch’s new cooking school and culinary center, La Cocina Que Canta.
NEW – The introduction of a class that takes guests to the garden to learn about the history and traditional uses of aromatic herbs. Guests are introduced to harvesting methods, distillation processes and properties of fresh herbs.
LAND: Over 3,000 acres of unspoiled, rolling countryside at a 1,750’ altitude. Accommodations, gyms, and exercise studios are located in our own valley, while 40 miles of hiking trails climb up through wild-lands on the lower flanks of 3,885’ Mt. Kuchumaa. The mountain was the first natural feature in the United States to be recognized as a National Historic Site – so honored for its sacred importance to Native Americans. Two thousand acres have been set aside by the Szekely family, in collaboration with both U.S. and Mexican environmental and governmental organizations, as a permanent nature preserve.
LANDSCAPE: Over 150 acres (one acre for each guest) of Mediterranean-style gardens, native trees, olive groves, ponds, and fountains. Xeriscape principles minimize irrigation. Indigenous flora and lush tableaux are balanced by intimate meditation gardens, contemplative bowers, and pockets of serenity conceived for quiet moments either alone or in the company of a favorite book. The gardens have been featured on the PBS seriesVictory Garden. The landscape was designed by Sarah Livia Brightwood.
“The gardens are reason enough to visit, even if you’re not interested in unwinding.” – The New York Times.
FITNESS: Over 70 different indoor and outdoor classes and activities—a total of approximately 325 instructor-led clinics and classes to choose from throughout an entire week. Forty-five minutes in duration. Most classes can be enjoyed by guests at all levels of fitness, and a wide age range. Already- fit and super-fit guests will find many activities that are challenging.
Named “Most Innovative” fitness program by SELF magazine as well as given the Number One rating for Spa Program by Condé Nast Traveler.
HIKING: The most extensive on-site hiking program of any spa, anywhere. The 40 miles of trails range from rolling meadow walks to challenging, steep, and mountainous hikes. Distances range from about 2 miles to 5 or more. Daily hikes at dawn year-round are complemented by an intensive extended hiking program during the winter months.
TREATMENTS: Massage, aromatherapy, scrubs, scalp treatments, facials are all available at modest charges. Hot Riverstone massage, hydrotherapy, and wraps of steaming hot linens steeped in indigenous herbs are also offered. With 47 treatment rooms, Rancho La Puerta’s massage and therapy program is the most extensive of any spa.
CUISINE: Ra ncho La Puerta’s innovative Cuisine of the Californias offers organic vegetarian entrées with the option of seafood (4-5 times a week. Fifty to 90 percent of recipe ingredients come from Tres Estrellas organic garden. Fresh seafood is purchased directly from the local fish market, two hours away in Ensenada, Mexico.
“Inventive and nourishing recipes.”– Alice Waters, Founder, Chez Panisse restaurant.
LA COCINA QUE CANTA—THE COOKING SCHOOL AND CULINARY CENTER AT RANCHO LA PUERTA: Opening summer 2007, “The Kitchen That Sings” is a 4,500 square foot $1 million facility set in the midst of a 5- acre organic farm. Guests will have the hands-on experience of picking the day’s ingredients, and participating in meal-making cooking classes that combine culinary technique with the joyous camaraderie of working side by side with top chef instructors. The center will have a gift shop and host complementary learning programs, such as aromatherapy, herbal uses, organic gardening, and more.
MEALS AND NUTRITION: Menus are primarily lacto-ovo vegetarian, with fish at most dinners, and eggs as an option at breakfast. Although many of the dishes reflect the region’s culinary heritage, all are equally accessible to North American palates. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style in a beautiful dining room that opens to an outdoor terrace where tables sit overlooking fountains, water gardens, and a view of the Mountain. Dinner is “sit down,” with wait staff attending. Cooking classes are offered weekly as are nutrition workshops.
ROOMS: Over $10 million was spent to complete a fully renovated resort that is more than 75 percent new, and more improvements continuing. Eighty-seven rooms built as singles, doubles, triplexes and quads are remarkably spacious and private, each with a unique décor. All are individually landscaped, in the midst of gardens surrounded by sun- filled patios. Each is one of a kind. Accommodations include living-room-like sitting areas, desks, fireplaces (in most), CD players, refrigerators, robes, safes, standard amenities, and a distinctive collection of Mexican folk art throughout.
FACILITIES: Spirit gyms for the spirit of the mind-body-spirit focus of the Ranch. Inspired by the congenial climate, these gyms forgo mirrors and instead open to face the mountain or the arroyo and remain devoted to the quieter disciplines of meditation and yoga. The Ranch also offers eleven gyms, one with a fireplace; weight- training gym with advanced equipment; three swimming pools, Pilates studio, running track, four lighted tennis courts, volleyball and basketball courts, men’s and women’s health centers with steam rooms, whirlpools, and saunas, three dozen hammocks for rest and balance.
EVENINGS: Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Galway Kinnell, best- selling author Dan Wakefield, novelist Erica Jong, PBS commentator Bill Moyers, and hundreds of other writers and media mavens are among those who have led evening programs at the Ranch. In addition to poetry and journal keeping, other talks and workshops have included health, science, and the arts. Other learning choices include aromatherapy, prayer arrow affirmations, star gazing, jewelry-making and other crafts at the art studio, and in-room massage.
LABYRINTH: Located in one of our oak groves, this archetypal and non-denominational experience takes place on the Ranch’s replica of the famous floor labyrinth laid in Chartres Cathedral sometime between 1194 and 1220. Not a maze, the path is a classic eleven-circuit design which you walk continuously and meditatively toward the center, then back out again—a powerful metaphor for everyone’s life journey.
SPIRITUAL LEGACY: Kumeyaay tribes knew Mt. Kuchumaa as the “exalted high place.” In their eyes, Kuchumaa was the womb of the world, the place from which creation sprang. Only shamans were allowed on the summit. It was the place of initiation for spiritual leaders, while the valleys and oak woodlands below were an important gathering place for the tribes.
GEOLOGY: The distinctive giant boulders of our hillsides were formed when great masses of “mother rock” (cooled magma) slowly worked their way to the surface millions of years ago, there to be smoothed and rounded by the inexorable forces of rain and wind.
NATURAL HISTORY: Chaparral holds the slopes and foothills of the mountain in a wild embrace. Huge and fantastic granite boulders surface from a sea of blue when the wild lilacs (cenaothus) bloom. Artemisia and sage scent the air. Home to coyotes, cottontail rabbits, and foxes, Kuchumaa also enjoys some of the greatest diversity of bird species in North America.
EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL: Made on site from our own olives, which grow in groves now over 50 years old, Nectar de la Patrona is cold-pressed in most years (depending on climate and harvest) on site, and is available for sale in small batches.
STEWARDSHIP: Las Piedras Nature Center was a gift to the school children of Tecate and Baja California from the founders’ daughter Sarah Livia Brightwood, an activist and environmentalist. This learning center features unique boulder-like architecture housing an active natural history education program. A marsh-based gray water treatment plant and a variety of other green projects combine to make the Ranch the “Ecological Spa”. The Ranch has also been a long-time sponsor of Well Baby Clinics in and around Tecate. It helps subsidize the local La Paloma orphanage and on a daily basis provides food to Our Lady of Guadeloupe church in Tecate. Rancho La Puerta is one of the only spas in North America to be actively engaged in land protection and most recently has created a 2,000- acre nature preserve.
MOTTO: &ldq uo;Siempre Mejor” (Always Better).
RATES & SCHEDULES: One- week visit, with program starting anew each Saturday and ending on the following Saturday. Many weeks feature special themes and guest presenters.
2007 rates range from $2,690 to $4,065 per person, depending on occupancy, accommodation type, and time of year.
RESERVATIONS: Telephone 877.440.7778 or 858.764.5500
WEBSITE: www.rancholapuerta. com
MEDIA INQUIRIES: Roma Maxwell
Public Relations Director
3323 Carmel Mountain
Road Suite 100,
San Diego, CA, USA 92121.
E- mail:rmaxwell@rancholapuerta. com
CONTACT: Aida Alibegovic
Marketing Services Coordinator
Telephone: 858-764- 5571
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org m
U.S. MAIL ADDRESS: Rancho La Puerta
3323 Carmel Mountain Road, Ste 100
San Diego, CA 92121
Spicy Hot Chocolate
Makes 5 cups.
Chocolate (xocolatl) was originally developed on the Mayan peninsula in southern Mexico, long before the Spanish conquest. Chocolate then was a bitter drink, flavored with spices like vanilla and cinnamon, sometimes even chiles or achiote were used. This creamy sorbet is based on an authentic Mexican drink recipe- and has a secret ingredient.
1 cup cooked butternut
3 1/2 cups milk
6 ½ ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
scoop out the seeds and
place the squash halves cut-
on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes or
a knife point can slide into the squash flesh easily. Remove the hot cooked squash and place in the container of a blender.
- 1 disk (3.5 ounces) Ibarra Mexican chocolate may be substituted for half the chocolate chips
- In place of the butternut squash, 2 medium yams or sweet potatoes will do. Roast as with butternut squash untill soft and able to easily scoop from
- To spare time, the squash, yams or sweet potatoes can be cooked in a
- This drink, when cooled, can be made into a delicious chocolate sorbet by freezing it in an ice cream maker.