We have taken the last few weeks of lockdown to reflect on some of our favorite places in the world. There are the beaches of Cabo, a stylish restaurant in Mexico City, and most recently, Rancho La Puerta in Baja. (What can we say? We have a thing for Mexico!) While travel is temporarily off of the table, planning is not. We’re dreaming of returning to Rancho La Puerta the moment we can.

Though it’s located just 15 minutes across the border in the small town of Tecaté, this wellness resort and spa feels like a different planet. The moment you arrive, a sense of peace washes over you. Hundred-year-old oak trees sway in the breeze, while dappled light dances across the winding pathways. The grounds are dotted with cheerful cactus gardens and serene koi ponds; red tail hawks circle overhead and a resident egret keeps his post by the dining hall. Since it’s in Mexico, your cell phone won’t work — and The Ranch has taken it a step further by only enabling WiFi in select areas. (Your room and most common areas don’t have Internet access, but the main lounge and a small library do.) The rooms are quiet and comfortable, with a fireplace that’s prepared for you each evening and a rotating selection of books. Being at Rancho La Puerta allows you to completely remove yourself from your “regular” life and immerse yourself in ranch life. So what is ranch life exactly?

In short, whatever you want it to be. Everything at The Ranch is optional but encouraged. Hikes leave at 6AM each morning, with a guide taking guests up Mt. Kuchumaa. There are a few different trails of varying difficulty, and at that hour, the misty desert landscape turns a shade of pink so beautiful that you almost forget you’re getting a great cardio workout in. Beginning at 9AM, guests are able to choose from a selection of classes each hour. There are your typical fitness offerings, like yoga, spin, Pilates, circuit training, or barre. And then there are a more adventurous classes, like aerial yoga, cardio drumming, even striptease. There are art classes, guided meditations and sound baths, cooking demonstrations, or you can go on a nature walk with an expert forager. The opportunities for self-improvement are endless.

That said, if you want to sit poolside for a week, no one would stop you. Their world-class spa offers exceptional treatments. Again, you can choose from more traditional services like a classic stone massage or a restorative facial. Or, opt for something more holistic: acupuncture, reiki, and craniosacral therapy. Guests are encouraged to enjoy the steam, sauna, and hot tubs as often as they’d like.

The meals are a true “farm to table” experience, with breakfast and lunch served buffet style and dinner a sit down affair. The Ranch has a sprawling six-acre farm at the base of the mountain, where they grow their own produce and host cooking classes. The diet is lacto-avo vegetarian, and low in fat, sodium, and refined flour and sugar. While wine is not served in the dining hall (with the exception of the farewell dinner on Friday), we found we didn’t even miss it. There’s something really beautiful about spending a week improving all areas of your life – diet, exercise, and mental wellbeing. If your goal is self-improvement, this is the type of vacation you should seek.

This year, The Ranch is celebrating its 80th year in business. In a time when ‘wellness’ is big business, this property was one of the first to even explore the concept of destination spas. Their mantra, “siempre mejor,” means always better. As each year passes, that concept is reflected in everything they do – new fitness experts join the staff, the spa adds innovative services to the menu, and they continue to find ways to give back to the locate Tecaté community. However, one thing remains the same: guests keep coming back, again and again. 

Though Rancho La Puerta has voluntarily closed its doors in response to the COVID-19 virus, they have found ways to bring it to you. Their email newsletter (sign up here!) is filled with guided meditations and stress-relieving yoga poses, along with nourishing recipes from their culinary team. Their blog has more of the same, including a few welcome distractions like entertaining essays from staff and past guests. Even in these uncertain times, bringing their mantra of “siempre mejor” to your shelter-in-place routine is a beautiful way to keep you moving forward.