Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico is a dream come true for parents who want to get away, eat well and focus on their own health and fitness, but what about their kids? Plenty of parents bring their older children (I met an awesome mother and daughter from Maine celebrating the daughter’s graduation during my visit in early June).
The problem is that looking to make fitness and healthy living a priority don’t always want to wait for their children to reach 18 years of age. This is where Family Week comes in.
Family Week happens once a year in August, and it is like no other week at the Ranch. Think of it as a resort for families that want to send the kids to camp, but would also like to spend time together bonding as a family. Children 7 and older are welcome at the Ranch.
Enjoy the pools, cooking school, fitness classes, and many extra classes and workshops being offered that week. Why will you love it? Well here are five reasons that just skim the surface of what you can expect.
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Hiking at Rancho La Puerta
I’ll admit that when I first visited the Ranch, I balked at waking up for a 6am or 7am hike. After my first day I decided to give it a try. Everyone was raving about it, so there must be something to it. The early morning wake up call wasn’t so bad once we got walking. The cool morning breeze was a welcome relief from the heat I knew would be coming by midday.
If you can’t live without your coffee, have no fear. There is coffee and fruit waiting for you in the main lodge where you will meet each morning for a hike. I went on a morning hike every day during my stay. I was hooked. The hikes range from easy to more challenging. Start with the easiest and see if you and your family can work your way up to the hardest hike being offered.
Try out a new fitness class at Rancho La Puerta
The Ranch staff members are firm believers in trying something new while you are staying with them. They understand that this is your vacation and you want to relax, but maybe you also want to try yoga or pilates for the first time.
Pick a fun dance class to try together or send the kids off to Kid Zumba while you give Tai Chi a go. Noodle Water Polo and Pool bingo can only result in some fun water silliness and bring out your family’s competitive side.
Don’t be afraid of looking silly in Brazilian Drumming. Chances are the mom and kids sitting next to you are just as clueless as you are. As long as everyone keeps smiling and laughing you will just be making memories, not thinking about how goofy you may look.
Cooking with kids at La Cocina Que Canta
It is never too early to get your kids in the kitchen. After all, I don’t want to be slaving away in a hot kitchen for the rest of my days. At some point I’d like my boys to start taking over a bit.
Families can enjoy taking one (or both) of the two cooking classes offered that week. You will prepare your own dinner, along with other families, before sitting down to sample your fare.
If your kids want a little more time in the kitchen you can send them off to the Hands On Cooking Class for Kids and Teens. Class is divided into age groups so children learn age appropriate cooking skills.
Teens get an in-depth class on healthy ingredients, spices, methods, techniques, seasoning and culinary terms. During class everyone will help to make a delicious and healthy lunch to enjoy together.
Anyone looking for a competition can join the chef for the Ultimate Smoothie contest using farm fresh ingredients that are sure to make a few winning combinations.
Gardening with Salvador at Rancho La Puerta
Nowhere will you find a more passionate gardener than at the Ranch’s organic garden next to La Cocina Que Canta (the Ranch cooking school). Salvador, the head gardener, has an enthusiasm that is infectious as he shows you the strawberries, figs, greens and tomatoes his team is growing. He talks about his produce like he would talk about his own beloved children.
Families will have the chance to get their hands dirty with Salvador and executive chef Denise Roa. Learn about organic gardening, the veggies being grown and help sow a few seeds. Bring these skills home to get your own garden started, whether you live in the city with only a balcony, or a huge stretch of land in the country.
Spanish, art and photography classes
The Ranch isn’t just about fitness classes; it encourages you to exercise your mind and creative interests as well.
Family week offers Spanish lessons for those who want to practice what they may be learning in school, or pick up a few key phrases that can help you on your travels. Many of the staff members at the Ranch are native Spanish speakers; now is a great time to strike up a conversation to become more proficient and get past that embarrassment that speaking a new language can bring about.
Art and photography classes are offered to kids and their parents. Go on a location treasure hunt to find the best spots to take your family photo on the Ranch grounds. Teens can sign up for a Photo 101 class that will leave them with the skills and enthusiasm to take pictures of their family and peers in new and exciting ways.
Drawing and painting classes are taught by artists who make creating beautiful things their life’s work. You will find something you love to do, whether it is doodling, painting in the style of Picasso or you simply want to tell a story with your drawings and form them into a little book.
Healthy and delicious eating for the whole family
Mealtime really is a highlight at the Ranch. I was a little dubious about the whole mostly vegetarian diet thing. My family loves a good steak. Vegetables could get really boring in no time. Surprisingly this was not the case. The staff did wonders with herbs and seasonings to make every dish vibrant and filled with flavor.
Day after day I loaded up on more salads, sautéed vegetables and fresh fruits. I developed a new appreciation for hard-boiled eggs and canned tuna with no mayo. Not together, but you know what I mean. Meal times normally featured fish, and allergies are taken seriously at the Ranch. Dessert after dinner was of course the highlight for me, but even those were simple, and dare I say, almost healthy.
Mealtime at the Ranch is one of my favorite times because you never have to feel isolated. You don’t have to stick to just your family. There are a few small tables, but larger tables are the norm. Guests are encouraged to join other families they have met throughout their stay.
Your kids will quickly make new friends. Naturally they will want to spend every minute with them. Grab a few families and snag the biggest table you can find. Share stories from your day and compare notes on the best classes and what you will do tomorrow.
Leave the kids home if…
Your child is under age 7. Sadly only children ages 7 and older can attend Rancho La Puerta’s family week. Younger kids will not have activities geared towards them, and really, it wouldn’t be as much fun.
For moms and dads who still want to experience the Ranch but do have younger children, consider booking a week just for yourself. After all, you need the quiet and sleep-filled nights that come along with a stay at the Ranch.
Your sanity depends on it in those early years. Call grandma or an aunt or uncle to watch the kids. You can thank them later by bringing them along while one parent stays at home with the kids.
You hate having fun. I’m not sure who wouldn’t want to have fun at the Ranch. I guess there are people out there who hate great food, fun activities and sneaking some exercise and vegetables into their kids’ lives. A big part of the Ranch experience is socializing. Try new things and maybe even stretch beyond your comfort zone with your kids.
Rancho La Puerta encourages you to relax. To get the most out of your experience it is good to break out of your shell, even if it is just a little. This is why people come back again and again.
I don’t think I need to say it, but Rancho La Puerta is truly a unique experience for you and your family. You will learn and grow together. Take a hike in the morning to wake up your body and your grouchy teen. Afterwards, give everyone a little free time after breakfast to pursue what interests them. Your kids can take a few afternoon classes. You can take a nap by the pool. It all goes at the Ranch.
For more information on the Rancho La Puerta Family Week, check out our Insider’s Guide to Rancho La Puerta. August is approaching fast, so book your spot as soon as possible.
PIN IT FOR LATER!
Many thanks to Rancho La Puerta for hosting me for 5 days in early June so I could experience all the resort has to offer guests. All opinions are my own; when they aren’t you will be the first to know.