Here you are in the Mexican desert on a Ranch surrounded by lush green grasses, wild flowers, palm trees, dancing scents of rosemary, lavender, orange…a 3,000 acre delight at the base of Mount Kuchumaa… just over the U.S. / Mexico border in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico. I’d seen the website pictures, heard stories from friends but there’s nothing like experiencing it yourself.

Fly into San Diego and Rancho La Puerta picks you up via motor coach for the hour plus ride to the Ranch. Driving through rolling green mountains, you finally cross the border for Mexico. After a 15 minute drive through Tecate, a rather run-down town, on it’s outskirts, you arrive at Rancho La Puerta’s gates and enter their sanctuary…your home cocoon for the next seven days.

Unfortunately it was pouring rain when we arrived Saturday washing out a our ‘welcome tour’ of the lovely grounds and facilities. We traveled under Ranch provided umbrellas to and fro through mid-day Monday, at times the mountain even covered with ice pellets. It was warmer back in DC!! Then Monday evening the skies cleared and Tuesday through the rest of week was the glorious weather we imagined, affording every opportunity to enjoy the beautiful setting. Most of the year the climate here is quite good…the cold rain was unseasonable.

The Ranch’s setting truly sets the mood for the experience…open, nature, learning, support, motivating, relaxation. The surroundings open your senses for what is sure to be an impactful week. You feel deep in nature here under sunny blue skies, birds chirping, bunnies hopping and the “exalted high place” guarding you from a distance, Mt Kuchumaa’s name given by the Kumeyaay Indians.

The style is charming Mexican Colonial throughout including your home-away-from-home casita. I loved my spot, Flor 1! The casitas vary in size, to hold the capacity of about 150 guests, each with its own private entrance, garden, patio and most have fireplaces. At night the only sound I heard, while relaxing, reading and sipping peppermint tea in my casita, was the crackling of my fireplace. Some guests complained about the beds but I slept like a comfortable log every night breathing in the fresh herb bouquet pillow-side.

As fitness is the Ranch’s main focus, there are ample facilities for it…11 gyms, 4 pools, Pilates studios, yoga studios, running track, dance studio. On the spa / relaxation side, there are two women’s spa centers, one men’s spa center, many sun beds by the pool and hammocks in the trees.

The last piece of the Ranch’s setting is the community. There is a huge sense of community here from the well-trained, helpful, fun instructors to the people you meet at your meals and chosen activities. As founder Deborah Szekely says, “the bonding that develops – that’s the most important part of the Ranch.” I met some amazing people last week that I’m so excited to have in my life.

Now that you’re immersed in the setting…let’s get physical!