By Amy Harrick
In 1940, wellness gurus Edmond and Deborah Szekely had a revelation, “If we build it, they will come.” And so began the modern fitness evolution.
Rancho La Puerta became the first health spa as we know them today, and over the past 75 years they have earned a healthy resume, including the #1 ranking by Travel + Leisure as the top destination spa in the world four out of the past five years. What started out in a windowless adobe “house” amongst the vast desert fields of Baja California with a wondrous view of Mt. Kuchumaa, a mountain held sacred by Native Americans for thousands of years, is now a 3,000-acre world-renowned destination for those seeking health, fitness, relaxation, and notably romance. The Ranch is still operated by the Szekely family today and is richly ingrained in Mexico’s deep-rooted traditions of family and hospitality.
Notable areas of The Ranch’s growth include the 83 sprawling casitas decorated with fine folk art and authentic Otomi textiles, La Cocina Que Canta culinary center and cooking school, an unparalleled 6-acre organic farm, a top-notch spa, several gyms, structures and pools that seamlessly blend into its exquisitely manicured acres, and lucky for you, its new offerings for weddings and special events. The options are seemingly endless for The Ranch’s truly special experiences that take you from pre “I will” to post “I Do.”
Destination Wedding Weekend
Rancho La Puerta is the ultimate in destination weddings! If you are looking for an intimate destination wedding with your closest family and friends, without the added time and costs for travel, the three or four night stay for you and your guests would be a perfect option. Your wedding weekend may be one of the few times in your lives where you have everyone you truly love all together in one place at one time. The Ranch’s inherent qualities help to make that experience all the more special. With its “unplugged” mantra, all-inclusive amenities, family style dinners and variety of activities offered, there is something for everyone to do and yet still be together. You and your guests can partake in the array of fitness classes available for any level (including the popular cardio drumming); attend the Salsa y Salsa event where you will not only learn to make delicious salsa, but dance it as well; enjoy an exhilarating morning hike to La Cocina Que Canta for a healthy and tasty organic breakfast; hone your cooking skills in a hands-on cooking class and delight in the fruits of your labor; luxuriate in a hot stone facial followed by a rooftop outdoor spa dip and shower; indulge in wine tasting of the surprisingly phenomenal wines from the Valle de Guadalupe with sommelier Alberto Cortez; enjoy select breakfasts poolside during the splendid, gorgeous mornings; and best of all, revel in Manuel’s dance classes for the most fun you’ve ever had exercising.
Perhaps you are dreaming of a destination wedding with a larger guest list and unique weekend activity options. The less- traveled, clean and somewhat sleepy border town of Tecate and its neighboring Valle de Guadalupe beckon. Guests may choose to stay at nearby Santuario Diegueno Hotel and visit The Baja’s magnificent wine region in the days before or after. While wine touring, dinner at Finco Altozano is a must. The outdoor country setting of Tijuana Chef Javier Plascencia’s restaurant is brilliant with a menu to match. For an ultra-casual meal, the tacos at El Amigo alone are worth the trip.
The Wedding Day
Whether you and your guests are staying at the resort or coming in for the day, the natural wedding setting is a true sanctuary. You can choose to get married and host your reception outdoors amongst the tranquil gardens with sacred mountain views, perhaps with a Mariachi band at dinner under the arbor of twinkling lights, or within the grand rancho ambiance of the tiled great room and courtyards. Either way, on-site wedding planner Maura Montoya and Chef Denise Roa will help make your wedding day a most memorable one. Chef Denise is as creative as she is talented. Of course, she reaps the fruits of their long-time gardener’s labor, but her innovation shows when she cooks and plates a radish to look like a scallop and taste as delightful. Healthy never tasted so delicious. She will cater to any allergy or dietary restrictions with finesse, and although sustainably caught seafood is magnificently prepared, it is often the organic garden-to-table produce that is the star on the plate.
Honeymoons and Elopements
Honeymoons aren’t only for the just-married. A pre-wedding moon allows you to de-stress and reconnect before the big day.
Either way, a week at Rancho La Puerta will start your marriage off in a healthy and rejuvenating way – for both the mind and body, as well as romantically and spiritually. The unplugged life on The Ranch reminds guests to live in the moment, to seize the experience of being with our loved ones in all of nature’s beauty. There is wifi in some areas, if you are so inclined, but it is limited so that you won’t be all-consumed.
The opportunities are endless for events at The Ranch that give you quality time with a loved one or two, or six. Saturday at the Ranch is a great opportunity to spend a quality day with your mom or your bridesmaids. During the monthly scheduled events, guests are able to enjoy the amenities for a day, including spa time and massage, a nature hike, fitness classes and a culinary cooking experience.
Like most of their guests, once you find your way to The Ranch the first time, you will return time and time again. From weddings to honeymoons, to engagement parties or a day with your maids, Rancho La Puerta is bar-none when it comes to fulfilling experiences that nourish the mind, body and soul and providing an environment for investing in each other.
When people think of crossing the border, it is often assumed that means Tijuana. However, Rancho La Puerta sits just a few short miles from the clean and easy Tecate border crossing, which is only 40 miles from the San Diego Airport. You and your guests may drive across, or you may drive to the border and have resort drivers pick you up and escort you through. Another convenient option, especially for a bit larger weddings, is to arrange for Rancho La Puerta’s charter bus to transport your guests to and from the San Diego Airport or a designated San Diego hotel. Any option is extremely convenient and seamless, as Rancho La Puerta has been transporting guests for three quarters of a century.
Minimum 25 guests and maximum 120 guests for wedding-only packages. Minimum of 8 guests for destination wedding weekend packages at The Ranch. Elopement packages also available. Couple and all guests must have valid passport at time of travel.
All photos courtesy of Rancho La Puerta.