The Ranch has been called everything from “life changing” to “just plain fun...the most fun I've had in years.” We'll post many of your letters and comments here so that others can get a better idea of just what a Rancho La Puerta week can be. If you wish to share your thoughts, please do so on our comment form after your visit (available at the Ranch) or by writing us at email@example.com.
Although the comments on this page are unfailingly positive (after all, this is our website), we guarantee that they are unfailingly REAL. They are from the heart, and we'd be happy to put you in touch with anyone whose comments appear here, for they have all become our friends.
We’re all over the web…
Magazine writers, bloggers, Tweeters …all have something nice to
say about Rancho La Puerta lately. We’re grateful for the attention.
"My wife and I have been going to Rancho La Puerta annually for the past 10 years and its always the highlight of our year. We love being there. From the moment you arrive, you are well taken care of. Every detail has been thought through to make your stay there truly memorable. The food is delicious, the classes are extensive, the instructors are excellent, the spa treatments are heavenly and the gardens are magnificent. Over the years we have met such wonderful and interesting people there and always enjoy the sense of community and comradery that Rancho La Puerta nutures. We have always felt completely safe and unthreatened there. I recommend a stay there to everyone - its the best healthy treat you can give yourself".
– Frank Lipman, M.D.
"A week at Rancho la Puerta is exactly what I need to recharge, regroup, relax and rest. Coming to perform at the Ranch is both a musical and a personal pleasure, and provides me with a precious break from my usual concert tours (which normally do not include unbelievably beautiful surroundings, gorgeous mountain hikes, lazing by the pool and being served delicious meals). The Ranch is a safe haven for all its guests - I love connecting there with new and old friends, and I treasure the relationships that have developed in this idyllic place, where everyone is always at their best! I can't wait for my next visit in March."
– Lara Downes
"Rancho La Puerta is one of those special places in my life that captivated me immediately. My first reaction was to marvel at every aspect of the experience. The staff are warm, helpful, happy, and exude a pride in their work and in the Ranch. The grounds and architecture are beautiful, immaculately maintained, and generate an ambiance that is at once welcoming and serene. The food is fantastic! How do they make it so delicious, visually pleasing, and healthful at the same time?
The Ranch feels like much more than a destination spa. It actually seems like a village - an idyllic spot where people live and work and play. I found it to be as relaxing or as challenging as my mood directed me. I leave the Ranch with two thoughts: they really do get everything right, and, how soon can I come back!"
– John Scott Marrone
“Life at Rancho La Puerta is like walking into the Garden of Eden, except without the snake! Seriously, I feel like I am walking into a most beautiful garden that is more my home than my own yard; it is my primordial home.
The staff have made this a place I can relax in so completely. It is as if I am lying back into a pool of support, held in generous care and complete safety. My heart wells up in gratitude for such care and protection.
The Ranch is a feast for the eyes. The staff take us up into the hills where the grandeur of the valley can be seen in its massive splendor. And they make sure that - in every inch- the ranch reflects a commitment to the beauty of natural design.
In addition, at the Ranch I have an experience of freedom to come and go anywhere on the ranch - I know be welcomed and supported anywhere I go. In fact, that care starts from the time I step into the bus at the airport.
There are few places today where one can know such support, freedom, and safety, and the Ranch is one.”
– The Rev. Canon Peg Chemberlin
"Just wanted to thank you again for the opportunity to offer the Memoir writing seminar at the Ranch. I always look forward to the week because I feel so comfortable at the Ranch--and, let me add, so safe. Lately there are people who say to me, 'You drive across the border? Is it safe?' And I say, 'I've been driving across the border now for 14 years and, yes, it's safe.' People forget how close the Ranch is to the border--like 3 miles away, on one straight street. And once you enter the magic gates, you're no longer in Tecate, you're in a piece of Paradise unequal anywhere in the world.....and I've traveled most of the world. The Ranch allows me the best R&R I know of. I can relax, be stimulated, exercise at my own pace, and just enjoy meeting new people. That's also why I like my seminar, because the people who come seem to really like to share their thoughts, and they make for good lunch or dinner companions for my wife and me. So, again, thanks for creating such a great extracurricular program. And thanks to Deborah for making sure the Ranch is everything one could hope for in a health spa....and just a bit more."
– Larry Grobel
– Dr. Robert L. Rosenfeld
– Robert and Judy Kanee
– Molline and David Green
– Cathie Borrie
Rancho La Puerta - Ranch of the Doors - everyone should take the step through that door - an open door to a healthier, stronger, better life."
– Patricia McDonald
Thanks very much."
– Stan Shechtman
I have been a regular guest at the ranch for the last 15 years, coming either once or twice a year. It has been, and continues to be a safe haven, in so many ways -- it is a place of renewal, spiritual retreat, health, exercise, vitality, and re-commitment to what is important in our lives. I have always felt very safe at the Ranch, whether on long hikes up Mt. Kuchumaa, or strolling the grounds in the evening to look at the stars.
Recent sad events in a few Mexican border towns (Juarez and Mexico) have apparently frightened some from coming to the Mexican border. Tecate has always been, and continues to be, a very different kind of border town. It is a small, middle-class, modest town, with two strong employers: Rancho La Puerta and the Tecate brewery. It has not been affected or afflicted by the kinds of dangers present in other places.
Coming to the Ranch remains a safe haven.
As a mother, a lawyer, and a woman, I have no security concerns
about continuing to come to the ranch, and plan to be there
again this coming September. I encourage all of you to continue
to support our wonderful friend, mentor and host, Deborah Szekley,
by coming to Rancho La Puerta. She and her family have made this
a special place indeed for many of us in the far-flung sisterhood
of Ranch visitors, and for that we are so very grateful.”
– Karen Nardi
“My husband and I just spent a week at Rancho La Puerta and loved it!
It was a wonderful experience in every way.... Great healthy, yet delicious, food! Wonderful workout choices! Fun hiking experiences! And what an absolutely wonderful staff! We heard the resort had some bad press with false accusations regarding Mexico (or at least Tecate, Mexico) and if there is any kind of form we can fill out to vouch for what a great experience we had and how safe the area is, please let us know!
Thank you again for a great
week at Rancho! My best…”
– Terie Davis
“My two daughters and I returned from Rancho la
Puerta on Mar 28, 2009, after a glorious week there!! My daughter
drove her own car there, and we had no trouble whatsoever!! It is
a perfectly lovely, safe place to go!! We are booked to arrive again
August 1, this time with my granddaughter & daughter. Tecate
is a very safe, quiet, peaceful town. It is a long way from Tijuana & Mexicali.
We look forward to our trip there every year. I have been there 31
times!! Book your rooms now, and have the greatest vacation of your
– Jackie Haws
“We want you and the staff of Rancho La Puerta to know how very much we enjoyed this week at the Ranch. The weather was gorgeous, the food delicious, and the service, as always, outstanding. After 37 visits and traveling from London, England, you know how much we value the Ranch and all it entails. It is a very special place for us and we leave feeling invigorated and ready to face the world again.
We are sorry that the Ranch has had to suffer from the effects of media misinformation. At all times during our visit we felt both safe and secure.
Our daughter is hoping to visit with friends during the summer and of course you will see us again next May.
May the Ranch continue to flourish.”
– Sam and Caroline Haubold
One of our guests, noted garden writer and photographer Debra Lee Baldwin, posted this beautiful little article on her blog.
“I wanted to give you some feedback on my week at RLP (April 11-18, 2009). This was my 5th visit.
The fundamentals were all very sound. The mountains, the gardens, the FOOD, the staff, and bingo--all of it was great. You should always keep your eyes on those balls.
This week, I especially enjoyed the yoga and writing program with Irene Borger and Phyllis Pilgrim. Irene had a remarkable ability to get people to write and talk intimately and was extremely compassionate in that respect. Mrs. Pilgrim continues to be an absolute wonder.
I do a lot of yoga, but took several of Mrs. Pilgrim's fundamental yoga classes. She absolutely gets it.
Another special feature this week was the swimming clinics put on by Jane Katz. What a privilege to be in the presence of a woman with such a resume and such fun-loving spirit! I actually learned a lot from those clinics, and her synchronized swimming class (a good workout disguised as the preparation of a synchronized swimming performance) was even funnier than bingo.
Other particular kudos go to the staff at the Men's Center. They were always most welcoming, and the place was spotless.
I'm trying to think of some comment regarding improvement, but I really can't.
Again, RLP is a magical environment, made all the better by all who work there. I'm spreading the word, and can't wait to get back.”
– Kerry Wilson
visited The Ranch for the first time in April, 2009. We drove from
San Diego, over the border, through the sleepy little town of Tecate
and easily found RLP. It was heaven on earth! I especially loved
the early morning hikes, spirit-lifting yoga, sesnsational pilates
and refreshing water classes that I mainly took while there. The
food was extremely good and oh, so healthy. The fitness staff,
wait staff, and the spa staff were all outgoing, SO friendly and
helpful. When I left, I felt refreshed and ready for whatever life
threw my way. I plan to return to RLP again very soon and will
pass on to everyone I know what a fantastic experience I had and
won't hesitate to urge them to visit Rancho LaPuerta for the best
health and fitness spa anywhere!”
– Susan Hunter
“Regarding comments made by Larry King and Anderson Cooper, and Edward James Olmos's recommendation that people not travel south of the border:
Having recently returned from my third visit to Rancho La Puerta…it is my opinion that a large percentage of the media (for reasons I cannot fathom) very much enjoy listening to themselves talk, and sometimes embellish facts, tending to focus more on opinion. If I were to plan my life based on their views regarding the state of the world, I would undoubtedly spend my life in my house under lock and key, stuffing my money under a mattress.
Instead, I choose to enjoy my life, to act or not act on my personal desires by assessing the relevant pros and cons, and making my own decisions. As advertised, Rancho La Puerta provides a modern-day fitness and spa vacation experience. I consider my visits to the Ranch a positive experience and an asset to my quality of life. I am a woman and I have never once felt I was in any danger. I have met some wonderful people during these visits. I hope new visitors to The Ranch and those who have previously visited and enjoyed their stay, will plan future visits by relying on their own experiences and/or instincts, and not the opinions of those who may have never experienced a week at Rancho La Puerta.
We only go around once. I intend to make the best of it and hope others will choose to do the same. I plan to see you again.”
– Betty Tipton
“I just spent another glorious week at the Ranch—my 12th visit!
This time I took advantage of the promotion and took my daughter Mary with me. It was her first time there—the first of many, I expect. The Ranch is as it has always been: an oasis of peace and beauty and health. I find it a haven in stressful times. There was never any hint of danger or discord. That problem is many miles away—as if it doesn't exist—and had no effect on our week at all, except that there were fewer guests there. We got in the habit of not locking our door and felt perfectly comfortable.
is a wonderful lifetime achievement and you should feel very
proud. I am glad to have discovered it all those years ago.”
– Shelley King Theis
I have a special personal history with the Ranch as well. I actually proposed to my wife Maddy there in the 1980's and I conceived my company Age Wave there a few years later. Every time I have visited the Ranch, the experience has allowed me to re-charge my physical, mental and spiritual batteries while making new friends and learning practical tools for better self-care. Maddy and I always come away refreshed, renewed and ready to take on life's next challenges and opportunities. The Szekely family and the wonderful staff of Rancho La Puerta have truly created a world-class retreat, rejuvenation and learning center - more valuable and important now in these complex and stressful times - than ever before.
And, since our recent visit was just two months ago, I'm also
glad to report that there were absolutely no travel or security complications
with any part of the trip whatsoever.”
– Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D.
“Dear friends at RLP,
I am looking forward to my sixth visit to Rancho La Puerta this summer. I live in Southern California and for all five of my visits I have driven, by myself, from my home to RLP. HWY 94 is a beautiful road and I have always enjoyed a leisurely drive to Tecate on Saturday morning. The border crossing into Tecate has been remarkably easy and the border guards have been extremely friendly and easy to work with. [Editor's note: Most guests arrive at the Ranch via our motor coaches direct from San Diego Airport, but we have always welcomed those guests who live near by when they drive in...]
Most people don't realize it is just a 2-mile drive past the border to RLP. Passing through the town of Tecate on a sleepy Saturday morning, it strikes me that the people I observe are just working to eke out a living like anyone else.
After a 10-minute drive past town, I'm excited to see the gates of RLP where a week of mind, body, and spirit awaits. My return through U.S. immigration is just as easy. I have never felt unsafe in Tecate or any of the surrounding grounds of the ranch.
as a birthday gift, I'm taking my husband to couples week! so
he too can experience the joy of RLP!”
– Danielle Bowden
“Our recent visit was a wonderful success and we came away feeling
thoroughly refreshed. It is the first time that we have been at
the Ranch in the spring time and it was ‘heady’ with all the plants,
birds and blossoms proclaiming the joys of Spring. Every time we
return we are amazed at how the Ranch continually changes and gets
even better: Truly living up to Deborah's motto of "Siempre
mejor:” The food, the programs, the guest lecturers and performers,
total ambience and our first visit to the kitchen gardens were
all amazing. In fact, we have both decided that we want to take
one or two cooking classes next time! Thank you for such a marvelous
week--we just can't wait to return!”
– Dr. Michael Emmerson, international artists'
manager, festival director & ex-President of RCA/BMG Classics,
and Elena Durán, international flutist and recording artist
– Still smiling, Linda Weill, Artist
– Dr. Dan Collins
There are so many hidden places to meet and talk with other guests or to just relax and be quiet, luxuriate in a Jacuzzi, or lie in a hammock with a book. The classes are top-notch, always inspiring, and with wonderful instructors. You can challenge yourself as hard as you want or be as lighthearted as you want.
The atmosphere at Rancho La Puerta encourages easy and natural exchanges between people. And everyone is always respectful of your privacy. The staff is friendly, helpful and adorable. The treatments are divine.
The food is a treat to the eye and so delicious...all the more so after having visited the amazing organic garden from which it comes. The breakfast hike at the break of dawn is divine. After a 2-mile hike and a gourmet breakfast in the new cooking school kitchen (in itself a work of art), there is a tour given by the gardener whose passion is contagious as he pulls a fennel root out of the earth and cuts pieces off for everyone to taste.
As if all the richness of the daytime were not enough, the evening programs were so interesting that even with the fatigue of the full days and early morning hikes I could not resist attending them and was fascinated by each program and the level of culture. World-class artists, writers, and professionals share their crafts and their view points in intimate settings.
Physical beauty is
everywhere and so accessible. As a photographer I can't get enough
of simply walking around and enjoying the views of the beautifully
planned gardens set against the back-drop of the majestic mountains.
What more can I say? I leave relaxed and inspired, grateful for
this amazing week, and can't wait, as always, to return to Rancho.”
– Melba Levick, photographer/author of 50 books
on travel, design, architecture and gardens in both Europe
and the Americas, including the books “Mexicolor” and “Mexicasa”
“Just a nugget from my trip home...I was stopped by a policeman
at San Diego Airport who said, ‘Excuse me miss, are you alright?’
I replied that I was fine, and questioned why he pulled me aside
to ask. His response was, ‘Well, you seem dazed and a bit out of
it, and I was wondering if you were lost or not feeling right.’
I just laughed and told him that I was just back from a week at
Rancho La Puerta...and kept on smiling. Perhaps he thought I was
suspicious, for not being as stressed out as the rest of my fellow
airport travelers. It was so great meeting all of you strong, lovely
women. Thanks for the joy.”
– Nancie Rosen
“In February of 2009 I made my first trek to the Rancho La Puerta resort. Along with my sister and two close friends, we drove from Redondo Beach, California, to Tecate, Mexico. As we neared the border between the US and Mexico I was enchanted with the beauty of the countryside. We easily crossed over the border and located the resort. While at the resort I enjoyed its relaxing and rejuvenating atmosphere, engaged in many of the activities (LOVED THE WATER AEROBICS!), filled myself up with the delicious and nutritious food, and walked for miles, both day and night.
I spoke with many of the people who worked there, including the gardeners, security personnel, spa staff, and even one of the board of directors for the affiliated "Fundacion La Puerta", a community development program which promotes environmental conservancy and the Baja area's cultural and social heritage. By the way, one of its environmental projects also serves the U.S.
Now did the subjects of the kidnappings
and the drug cartels come up in these conversations? Of course
they did! But none of these local people were concerned because they
know that the problems are primarily centered in areas around Tijuana
and Juarez. Not once did I have any concerns about my safety
and I am not naive! I have traveled in many parts of the world to
include Kenya, Europe, the Phillipines, Spain, Morocco, and other
parts of Mexico. As a woman, I know that I must take precautions
that men don't even consider. With common sense as my guide, I have
managed to travel the world and enjoy the diversity of its topography
and its people. Tecate, home to Rancho La Puerta, was yet another
wonderful stop along my journey to explore the world around me. I
will come that way again! ”
– Gail Jahnke
‘Unexpressed gratitude is like wrapping a gift for someone and never giving it to them.’
“When I read this quote at the Ranch last week the first person I thought of that I needed to thank was you, Deborah.
I have just returned from another amazing week at the Ranch and yes, it just keeps getting better…siempre mejor in so many ways. There are many to thank that I see everyday while I'm there; all the busy bees working to make the Ranch experience what we all have come to love and cherish so much. But you were there in the very beginning when the seed was planted. You have nurtured that seed, navigated your way through family crisis and tragedy, faced natural disasters that threatened to destroy everything and did it all with such courage and faith in your vision that it almost looked easy.
Amidst these times of great change, planetary shifts, the current financial overhaul and a long list of other challenges people are facing today I want to let you know that having the Ranch experience is more important than ever, a necessity rather than a luxury. Many I sat with over the past week agreed; We need to do this for ourselves now more than ever. It is an act of self care that can only flow over into our daily lives back home. Surrounding oneself with beauty and abundance in this health-enhancing environment for one full week is by far the best investment in one’s future that I can think of.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
– Nikola Clay, Dancer, Producer of “West African
– Laura Dean, M.M.
to the Ranch is really something magical. We look forward to
every visit. We had never been to Tecate in February. It was
beyond beautiful. We had to pinch ourselves as we hiked in
brilliant sunlight and blue skies. The food was probably the
best we have ever had...although we say that after each visit.
But we were so inspired by the cuisine that we each took home
the new cookbook. Thank you Rancho La Puerta gods for creating such
a magnificent place to relax, explore our personal journeys, and
meet unforgettable guests who often become friends we treasure. We
look forward to coming back in November 2009.”
– Molly Davis and Kristine Van Raden
say the Ranch is magical doesn't even begin to describe my
stay here. The gardens are ever more beautiful with exquisite
sculptures peeking out at nearly every turn of a path. When
I come to the Ranch I always look for something new to do or
try, and I'm never disappointed. Who would have thought that
a class that relies on the use of tennis balls could ease the
tension from my whole body? And there are so many others. The
food is better than ever. The flavors are deep and satisfying
and the presentation is so deliciously artful. I cannot wait to return.”
– Charlie Allenson
me, there is no more creative and restorative week than being
at Rancho La Puerta. As an artist I find myself so completely
enchanted by the mountains, the grounds and the special colors and
light that seem to be only at the Ranch. My time at the Ranch was
so meaningful, from the joys of the Organic Garden Hike to the cardio
benefits of world drumming to the spirituality of Mandala painting.
As always, I'm looking forward to my visit.”
– Lena Rivkin