Home' Get Up and Go : Winter 2013 Contents Travel FacTs
8 Qantas flies daily to Los
Angeles from Sydney, Melbourne
American Airlines flies daily from
Los Angeles to San Diego.
Contact Jetset Travel Rose Bay
for all Qantas and American Airline
travel information and best deals
for Rancho La Puerta.
Tel: (02) 9371 8166
the week. Take your time to choose, as
there is a plethora of exercise classes
and interesting things to do.
Activities are available on the
hour every hour and include early
morning mountain hiking, walks,
yoga, pilates; water shiatsu massages
(watsu), meditation, aquatic fitness,
tennis classes, spin classes, gym/
circuit training or cardio boxing. For
the more creative, there are dance,
sculpting and art classes.
There is a calm ambience once you
enter the large wrought iron gates
and you’ll begin to feel life’s stresses
evaporate as time passes.
Rancho La Puerta was the brainchild
of Edmond and Deborah Szekely, who
started the spa in 1940 as somewhere
to eat chemical-free organic food and
learn about healthy alternative living.
Accommodation was a one-room
cabin with a small vegetable patch and
a few goats for milk and cheese.
Seventy-two years later, those
same principles have made Rancho
La Puerta one of the most successful
health and fitness spas in the world.
Today at the age of 90 Deborah still
lectures about her philosophies on
how to live life more fully and vitally.
A sacred mountain
Charming accommodation is spread
out at numerous locations all over
the property and various budgets are
catered for. All rooms are beautifully
furnished and decorated with hand-
carved furniture and local crafts and
look out onto the gardens, meadows
or mountains. The villas have sundecks
to take advantage of the 325 plus days
Overlooking the property is Mount
Kuchumaa, which has been sacred
to the local native Americans for
thousands of years. A highlight of
any stay is the early morning hike
into the mountains. After a few days
when your fitness returns, the hikes
are actually very enjoyable. Coyotes,
foxes, and cottontail rabbits roam the
brush while ravens and red tail hawks
soar the vivid blue skies overhead.
Sadly most of the wildlife is up way
too early so we only saw what they left
behind. Still it proves they do exist.
Prominently displayed within the
resort is an honour roll of guests who
have stayed there 30, 40 and 50 times.
Many are well beyond middle age;
with most activities tailored to the
individual, age is definitely no barrier.
The average stay is seven days.
The holistic health and beauty
treatments are a memorable part of
the stay. These include massages,
facials, wraps, body and therapeutic
services. Favourite treatments include
the hot river stone massage, a relaxing
sports massage and a gentleman’s
facial. As relaxing and recuperative
as they were, the only problem is that
they seemed to end too quickly.
There are three health centres: co-ed,
women’s and men’s. All feature lounge
areas, massage rooms, showers, saunas
and hot tubs – with private retreats for
I was told there was one special
weekly event not to be missed and that
is ‘Bingo With Barry’ where master of
ceremonies Barry Shingle (who serves
as director of guests’ activities) puts on
a bawdy night of bingo.
Part of the holistic approach to
harmonious living is that Wi-Fi and
television is not available in the
guestrooms, but for those who are
cyber addicts or detoxing from lack
of television, a link with the outside
world is available in the lounge and
Among many wonderful memories
of my week there, one of my fondest is
not having my mobile phone with me
for the entire seven days.
Most of the food at the resort is
grown on the property’s 2.5-hectare
organic farm, which also includes an
international cooking school offering
cooking classes helmed by guest
This could be the place to break the
bad habits of a lifetime and come back
for a second, third, or 40th time. If
you meet me on the bus a few decades
from now, feel free to say hello.
The writer was a guest of Rancho
La Puerta. •
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