I spent a week at an amazing retreat in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico called Rancho La Puerta. It was one of the best weeks of my life and gave me a whole new spin on my favourite country! Read on to learn more about my week of ultimate wellness!
“How do you describe a week long wellness retreat in Mexico that feels like in just three days it’s taken 5 years of stress off of your life? Magic. I feel like this photo perfectly captures everything Rancho La Puerta has been for me so far. A getaway. An escape. A portal into everything I’ve ever wanted out of wellness – amazing healthy food, daily constant exercise, brilliant conversations with the kindest people, and unforgettable experiences. I can’t wait to share more about my week here but right now I’m going back to being off the grid. Besos de Mexico ”
These were the words on my first Instagram post after just a few days at Rancho La Puerta. By the end of the week, I was in tears that I had to leave. I spent a week of wellness in my favourite country and it was absolutely spectacular – let me tell you all about it.
What is Rancho La Puerta?
Rancho La Puerta
is a magical wellness resort and spa located in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico. Let me set the scene. You’ve woken up at 6:45 am, hours earlier than at home, after getting an incredible sleep. Or maybe you’re a hiker, so you’ve gotten up at 5:45 am. You start your day by meditating on the patio outside your cabin, one of many across 4,000 acres of lush land, to the smell of crisp mountain air and the chirping of a multitude of species of birds. You take a leisurely and scenic walk to a delicious breakfast, passing other Ranchers, smiling at them and engaging in light conversation. Your day consists of many activities from dance classes, to circuit training, to lunch, then to a slower afternoon of sound bath healing and a night massage before a four course dinner. You can’t quite put your finger on what you’re feeling then you realise: it’s pure bliss. You are at Rancho La Puerta
for this week and you never want it to end. But as they say at Rancho La Puerta, you have to leave to come back.
I like to think of Rancho La Puerta like an adult version of my favourite camp memories, plus wine & massages, of course. Rancho La Puerta’s sprawling property ensures that no matter what you’re interested in, you can do it. There are over 32 acres of gardens, 11 gyms, several pools, spas, casitas and areas to eat including the main dining hall. There are even gift shops and quiet areas off the path to get some down time.
The Food at Rancho La Puerta
For the entire week, you enjoy, a delicious vegetarian menu
(with endless vegan options), partake in any active like activities during the day that you desire and meet some new and exciting people. One thing I unexpectedly enjoyed all week were the soups! I’m not usually a soup person, but I found myself really looking forward to the variety of soups to enjoy throughout the day. There was also many breakfast and lunch options, ranging from soups to salads to lots of cooked and well seasoned veggies, potatoes, tofu and so much more. I would recommend trying a new breakfast and lunch option every few days so that you can try everything that’s there. I found that one of my daily favourites was an avocado toast (just ask for avocado) or a salsa toast for breakfast with a bowl of oatmeal. My all time favourite breakfast was the French toast!
Travelling while vegan for me means I pay extra attention to where accommodations are made for that. On the first evening Gav and I told the hostess that we were vegan and she made that note. From there, we got numbers to put on our trays and got a vegan version of almost every single dish. I was never without an option, never without soy or almond milk, and always felt like I was properly included. There was even a vegan spanakopita option made for me! It really reinvigorated my love of vegan salads and reminded me just how much I enjoy trying new and exciting sauces on my salads.
The Week at Rancho & How to Get There
The week goes totally up to you and with over 100 classes to choose from, it can be your ideal week of life. For me, that looked like dance classes, multiple massages, sound bath healing, aerial silks and even bird watching. I was shocked and amazed at all the new things I learned, old loves that I rediscovered, and the new relationships with incredible people that I would start.
To get to Rancho La Puerta, you fly into San Diego and the Rancho La Puerta team takes it from there. They handle your visitor’s visa ($32 USD in Mexico) and you cross the Mexican border with them, and they take you straight to their property. From there’s it’s as if everything you usually have to do in life is made a million times easier. You don’t have to cook any meals, think of cleaning your home, or driving to your favourite fitness classes. If you’re like me and have to get work done during the week, there’s even a main lounge to get some work done, or a puzzle instead. You don’t even have to do laundry while there if you don’t want to! Although, laundry facilities are completely free to use.
Top five things to try while at Rancho La Puerta
1) The dance classes/something new
I tried a dance class on my first day of classes and fell head over heels in love. I NEVER knew that I enjoyed dancing that much! Pretty soon I found myself dancing along to music in my casita throughout the week. By the last dance class, a hip hop class, I was moving and grooving and freestyling. Deciding to try something new ended being such a blessing for me since I discovered a new love!
2) The Breakfast Hike
If you’ve been following for a while then you might know that I have a foot injury. Coming off of just breaking my leg again, I was hesitant to do a hike. Gav on the other hand hiked every single morning. I like to think he hiked for both of us. I was pretty fine not hiking the whole week, until I heard about the organic breakfast hike. In fact, I kept hearing about the organic breakfast hike, again and again from seasoned rancho la puerta-ers. Nevertheless, we decided it would be safer to take the shuttle to the organic breakfast.
I woke up with less foot pain than normal that morning and after stepping into the lounge, I could feel the energy of the hikers. The anticipation, the excitement; and I changed my mind and decided to hike. It was so worth it. I’m happy to say that I did not experience any pain in my foot on the hike and the views I got were phenomenal. As hikes go; it was very doable and the breakfast at the end is the BEST breakfast of the entire week! So, if you need a reason other than endorphins from exercise, that feeling of accomplishment, feeling wide awake and bright, and stunning views, there will be food at the end!
3) Bingo night
I’ve never been to bingo before rancho, and know that Rancho’s bingo is a once in a lifetime experience. Barry who hosts bingo night will make you double over with laughter at his jokes and sarcasm, and there’s popcorn
(my favourite snack as you know)! It’s a great way to interact with a new group of people too! We did end up doing that, learning about the magic of truffle oil + popcorn from a new friend Agata, and playing some amazing bingo! It’s a night you won’t want to miss.
4) A massage
After some of the intense days that I had at Rancho La Puerta, a massage was a very welcome treat! The Hot Stone Massage I received was one of my best ever, and it was such an overall amazing spa experience.
5) A leisurely day
One of the biggest recommendations that we got from the orientation team at Rancho was to have a light/leisurely day. Part of the magic is just being there, relaxing and enjoying the property. There’s a great temptation to overpack every single day so you can get it all done, but trust me, you will get burnt out if you do. That’s what happened to Gav, and by day 3 he wanted to just take it totally slow. He ended up spending the next day joining in on my leisurely activities and we just sat on the large swing bed, just swinging for almost an hour before bingo. Needless to say, it was a relaxing and blissful evening.
Lessons learned at Rancho
1) Life doesn’t need to be overplanned and over packed to be enjoyable.
Having days that were almost completely unplanned that turned out to be some of the best days, showed me that we all have room in life for some spontaneity. Embrace it!
2) In life; always try something new.
I always love trying new things, and being surrounded by so many new things was the perfect opportunity to give it a try. Because of this (like I mentioned above) I discovered how much I loved dance classes
3) You can turn anything into a paradise or a prison.
I want to expand on this one. One of the days while at Rancho, I got a work email that sent me into a complete meltdown. Now imagine, I was in this magical land, and I decided to check my email on a day that I knew I didn’t need to, then upon seeing the email, knew I didn’t need to open it, yet I still did. I knew that if I was at home and received that email that it would’ve messed up my whole day, but since I was at Rancho, I physically couldn’t do anything, and being surrounded by so many happy and smiling people, it automatically stopped the episode after about half an hour.
Later that day, I attended a seminar about controlling stress that spoke to how to “not let this ruin my day and dinner” and how many times our stress is self-induced. It spoke to me directly. I realised then that in every amazing situation, it was up to me to enjoy it as the paradise it is, or to turn it into a self contained prison. I want to always focus on enjoying the paradise – and knowing I have the power to do so is very powerful!
4) Memories are a lot better when we are disconnected.
Rancho La Puerta has a few simple rules, one of them being, no phones at dinner or anywhere other than in your rooms or the lounge. That forced me to disconnect greatly, and for two days I didn’t even bring my phone with me. They provide you with a phone sleep bag which I also loved, because it felt really intentional to tuck my phone away in there. As such, I feel like the memories of the week are bright and vibrant. I spent more time taking photos on my camera than on my phone, and I feel like I was much more immersed. I can’t wait to go back, I think everyone deserves a week like this.
I hope you guys enjoyed this post! This was such a different kind of Mexico experience for me than my last two times, and showed me a whole new side that Mexico had to offer! Go book a week on Rancho La Puerta
‘s website now – you won’t regret it! What would you try first?!
Disclaimer: Thank you so much to Rancho La Puerta for inviting me to spend a week at their resort for this retreat! While I was gifted with the experience, all opinions and texts are mine! Thank you for supporting the companies and brands that support Jessica in the Kitchen!
OMG!! This sounds fabulous. I had enjoyed your IG posts about Rancho la Puerta, but now that I’ve read this post, I’m thinking of packing a suitcase and heading to Mexico!
Thank you so much Judy and so glad you enjoyed!! It truly is fabulous. I know you’ll enjoy it thoroughly if you go! 🙂
what a lovely article…I grew up on the ranch, long-story and many many years ago, but I remember Bingo, even 55 years later…and the descriptions of what you received, what you felt…so many the same…the Ranch has grown since back then but is still a heaven on earth…thank you for your posting
Hi Jolene! We’re so happy to bring up those happy memories for you! Thank you so much for reading!
Wow that is so amazing!! I love that years later, the charm of the ranch remains unchanged and that you were able to relate to so many things I shared. Definitely heaven on earth! You’re so welcome, happy to have provided a trip down memory lane and thank you so much for reading!!
Hey there! I just got back from my second week at the Ranch and am wondering if you happen to have the dressing recipe for the cabbage that they put out with breakfast every morning? I love it and can’t find it on the website anywhere.
Hi Heidi thank you for reading! I’m not too sure about the recipe for the dressing. It may be a variation of this https://rancholapuerta.com/ranchs-mexican-coleslaw-red-green-cabbage-jicama-cilantro-vinaigrette/ but it might not be quite the same. They’re pretty accommodating as you know so I’m sure if you gave them a call they would be happy to get it to you! I hope that helps even a little.
I had the immense pleasure of being at Rancho La Puerta that same week and met Jessica and Gavin.. at a Dance class!
Yes, this place indeed has its own special immersive healing by just being there.
Meeting these two..a beautiful, loving, joyful couple, added bliss to my week for sure.
I now call them my friends. ?
Hi Lorraine that was so sweet thank you! We will be meeting up again soon for sure! We had so much fun being around you. We most definitely are friends. I think what amplified our experience at the ranch was forming friendships with you and the other guests.
Hi Jessica, What a joy to read about your experience at Rancho la Puerta. I’ve been researching health resorts and now this one is on my list. I’m interested in your opinion – do you think that this would be a good place for a single person to go to alone? And also, what are your thoughts on spending two weeks there? Love your notes about how vegan friendly they were too – that part is really tempting me!
Hey Annie! Aww, thank you so much & I’m so happy you enjoyed reading about it! I definitely think it’s a great place for a single person. A lot of the people that we met at Rancho during our week were there by themselves, having an incredible time. One person (who has been there four years in a row) we met even said she specifically loves going alone & always ends up with a few new friends throughout the week each time. Because of how it’s set up, if you want to spend the week alone, you definitely can, but if you want to meet new friends, that will definitely happen too!
Oh my gosh – two weeks at Rancho sounds INCREDIBLE! Honestly, I really do wish I could’ve spent two weeks. There’s so much to do, that I woke up so excited for every day, looking forward to trying something new, meeting new people, eating new food, and getting the best sleep I’ve probably got my entire adult life (not exaggerating here at all). So you can definitely spend two weeks there, especially since there is also laundry service available & doing your laundry (yourself) is also free. I know that a few people during our week were spending more than a week there.
Yes, we loved how vegan friendly it was!! Oh my gosh haha, now you have me wanting to back next year 🙂 but my summer is already booked out, so I’m looking forward to the year after that! Not to sound like I’m over doing it, but I often think about how grounded yet free I felt during that week. It felt like, truly just enjoying life! I hope that helps so much Annie, I hope you get to go, and have an incredible time if you do!
All the best,
I am in love with your dress!! Where did you get it from?
Hi Rosene Thank you so much for reading! Jessica actually got the dresses from https://www.lulus.com . I hope this helps!