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By Mimi Pollack

July 24, 2014 (Tecate)--Many of us lead hectic, stressful lives, so it is always healthy to find ways to unwind. Spending a week at a spa is one good way to relax and recharge, but not everyone can afford that or has the time. Here in San Diego, we are lucky to have a world class spa and retreat, Rancho La Puerta, just across the border from East County. Founded in Tecate, Mexico in 1940 by Edmond and Deborah Szekely, Rancho La Puerta has built a solid reputation and a loyal following over the years.

Sarah Livia, Deborah’s daughter, continues that tradition, and has added her own touch. Known affectionately as “the ranch”, they have come up with a good solution to show people what they have to offer in one day if you cannot go for a whole week. They now have “Saturdays at the Ranch” where, once a month, you can enjoy the benefits of a spa and refresh your spirit.

For $300, in a day that stretches from 7:30 a, 8:00 p.m., you can eat delicious food, visit their working farm and take a cooking class, get a relaxing massage, go to a Tai Chi and other fitness classes, learn about the ranch’s history, take a nature hike, breathe in fresh air, and stroll the lush gardens while admiring the magnificent sculptures that dot the landscape. There are 300 acres to explore. Personally, I recommend that you go for the cooking and the wonderful art.

The Saturday stay includes a fresh breakfast snack buffet and Mediterranean lunch buffet. The meals are served in a large, airy and artistic dining hall where there you can find fresh, delicious, vegetarian food to feast on as your eyes take in all the sights. Much of the food is locally sourced as the ranch has its own organic vegetable garden. They also serve wonderful cheeses. Later in the afternoon, you can continue your culinary adventure by going on a two mile hike to their six-acre organic farm called “Tres Estrellas” [Three Stars].You will find world class chefs in the culinary center and cooking school, “ La Cocina que Canta” [the Kitchen that Sings]. After, taking a tour of the farm, there is a cooking demonstration and class which culminates in enjoying the fruits of your labor in an appetizer buffet.

Then, there is the art. From the moment you arrive, there is something to admire, starting with the intricately patterned metal entrance gate. The beautiful stained glass windows in the registration lobby were designed by James Hubbell. For me, the best is discovering the sculptures as you walk around the grounds. The sculptures were created by Mexican artists Victor Hugo Castaneda, the renowned Francisco Zuniga, and Heriberto Juarez. Two are in marble and the rest are in bronze. You will find several figurative female sculptures lounging in what look like yoga poses. The art there is truly a feast for the eyes.

Finally, the Saturday stays are good ways to rejuvenate the spirit, and a day to get away from it all at one of the oldest and most renowned spas in America. The dates for the Saturday stays in 2014 are September 6th, October 18th, November 15 and December 13th. The ranch provides bus transportation to and from San Diego, and a passport is required. For more information, go to their website at




Mimi Pollack is an ESL teacher at Grossmont College and a freelance writer.

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