A good friend from college told me about "Rancho" (as it is called by many of the guests who return year after year); she and her mother go every year together for a week in the beginning of November.
I decided to try it out over Thanksgiving, knowing it might not be the typical Rancho experience. It wouldn't be typical because they strongly recommend you visit for a full week (Saturday to Saturday) and I could only go for 4 days/3 nights (Wednesday to Saturday), and it would also be Thanksgiving, so I anticipated it being a somewhat mixed crowd of people. Even with the short stay, Rancho was an experience like no other and before I left, I was already trying to figure out how and when I could manage to come back for an entire week.
My initial reason for wanting to visit Rancho was weight loss, or at least having a "healthy" vacation rather than eating and sitting around over Thanksgiving break. I was surprised to find that while many visitors were also on diets or eating carefully, it was not at all the "Fat Camp" I had imagined or even signed up for. (I was thinking more Ben Stiller's fat camp in his 1990's classic, HeavyWeights, for an idea haha) The food was delicious, the people were friendly and outgoing, and the emphasis was overwhelmingly "wellness"-based, not simply exercise or calories. Trainers and experts repeatedly mentioned the "four corners of Wellness" - nutrition, fitness, "peace" or stress management, and sleep. In an assessment offered before my visit, I scored 87% on nutrition, fitness, and sleep, and a shocking 47% on "peace" or stress management, so that was a large focus of my trip.
The day started with a hike (there are 2 -3 different hikes offered each day, so you can choose to start off the day hard or moderately) around 6:30/7 am, then a breakfast with fresh eggs and organic fruit from the Ranch's famous garden. After breakfast, classes are offered hourly until lunch - everything from Yoga and Pilates to Spinning and Circuit Training. Lunch is from 11:30 - 1ish. At 1, there is usually a great lecture about nutrition - I attended 2 of these and they were really inspiring and interesting, and also came with helpful handouts for you to take home with you. The early afternoon includes a variety of activities, from Meditation to Dance to Art classes, as well as an Open Weight Room for weight lifting and cardio equipment. At 4pm, there are usually restorative classes - like guided meditation, restorative yoga, and foam roller classes. Dinner is served from 6 to 7:30 pm. There are some evening activities, but I usually crawled back to my room and passed out by 9:30 - I was exhausted!
Another important thing about Rancho - the Ranch places a lot of emphasis on focusing on the mind/body connection, and part of that is disconnecting from our various technologies. There are no TVs anywhere on the Ranch. There is no Wi-Fi in the casitas or villas. Cell phone use is not allowed at the Ranch except in the privacy of your own room, or in the phone booths at the Lounge. The Lounge also has WiFi, so I checked my email once, but I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed "going off the grid" and not having my phone with me at all times! I called my parents every morning to say hi after breakfast, and then I marched around and enjoyed the Mexican mountains all day!
Unique Quality: Rancho is all-inclusive, and while it is not cheap, I think it is definitely a great value. All the healthy, organic food you can eat is included, and it is carefully marked so you can maintain a specific caloric intake if that is one of your goals. All the classes and hikes are included - classes which in LA would EASILY cost $20 dollars each. The mountains and facilities are exceptionally beautiful. One thing that truly can't be replicated at other resorts are the people - many of the instructors and teachers had been there for 30 years, and they were so inspiring. I went on a meditation hike on my last day that was lead by this woman, Phyllis Pilgrim, who besides growing up in an internment camp in Java and studying with the Dalai Lama, she was also a breast cancer survivor, had a hip replacement, and was 73 years old - and she LEAD OUR 1.5 MILE HIKE at 6:45 AM! I mean, that is crazy inspiring!!
Carretera A Tijuana Km 5, Tecate
blvd. Benito Juarez # 1450 Col. El Encanto sur, Tecate
451 Tecate Road, Tecate
Km. 118 Highway Mexicali, Tecate
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Address: Carretera A Tijuana Km 5, Tecate, Baja California Norte, 92046-3057, Mexico