Insider’s Guide to Rancho La Puerta
Rancho La Puerta is a magical place where you can focus in on yourself, work on clearing out the toxins you’ve been putting in your body (Oreos anyone?) and getting healthy. One week is the average stay, although you will find guests who have been there for two, three and even four weeks in a row. S
ome come to hide from life, while others come to rejuvenate their souls after a hectic year. All agree that this is a place to come as you are, meet new friends and try a few new things. Think of it as camp for adults and there are no camp counselors telling you to turn your lights off. Trust me, you will be crawling into bed early each night after the full day you pack in.
Your first trip to Rancho La Puerta can be intimidating. There is so much to know, so many classes to look over and figure out which is right for you. Plus all of the extras- spa, cooking classes, hikes, pilates reformers, etc. You can become overwhelmed quickly.
Here is a simple guide to how things run at the Ranch. The more you know, the quicker you can jump into the quiet way of life down there that will have you finding your own little slice of bliss in no time.
Hikes around Rancho La Puerta
Several hikes are offered each morning at the Ranch. The staff at the Ranch believes a morning hike is the perfect way to start the day. Getting out before the sun heats up the air is also the reason for the morning hikes. By noon in late spring and definitely the summer you will want to stick to the shade as much as possible.
At first I balked at the morning hikes. Why in the world would I get up at 6am when my children weren’t there to wake me up? I skipped the first day. By day two I was already up, having gone to bed at 8pm the night before, so I figured I would go on the short 7am hike. It didn’t take any time for me to find my stride, and realize the benefits of this early morning stroll. I arrived at breakfast ready to tackle my day and in a happier frame of mind.
Everyone at the Ranch will tell you to take a hike each morning. Listen to them. It is worth the early morning wake up, and yes, there is coffee and fruit waiting for you in the lodge where you will meet up for your hike.
Rancho La Puerta Fitness Classes
There are fitness classes for every skill level and interest. Yoga and Pilates became my morning routine with an intense cardio class just before lunch. My afternoons were spent trying out different types of classes I had never experienced before, like deep-water hydro fit and Cardio Drumming.
Rancho La Puerta was the perfect place to dip my toe into classes I had always wanted to check out, but was never brave enough to try at my local gym. Everyone always looked so coordinated and like they knew what they were doing.
The Ranch encourages you to push outside of your comfort zone, try something new and not let the person next to you intimidate you. Chances are they have no idea what they are doing either.
Rancho La Puerta Water aquatics
I love the water, in all of its many forms. The Ranch offers swim clinics and aquatic aerobic classes, in the shallow and deep end, for all fitness levels. You may not think you are getting a decent work out because you are having so much fun, but trust me, every muscle in your body is now working to keep you afloat and breathing.
It is extremely important to wear sunscreen and a hat while in your aquatic classes. There is no shade at the activities pool and you will fry. If you didn’t bring a long-sleeved rash guard, you can borrow one right at the pool. Remember to hydrate before and after your time in the pool as well. Just because you are in the water doesn’t mean you aren’t getting dehydrated.
Dining at Rancho La Puerta
All meals and snacks are included in your stay at Rancho La Puerta. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style, while dinner is a sit down affair with servers. If you would like bread with your dinner, you have to ask for it. Also, if you would like more food, you have to ask for it.
Everything is perfectly portioned for a set number of calorie intake, so you get a healthy serving. Some need more than others though, especially when it comes to protein. There was only one night during my five night stay that I felt I needed more food. I simply asked for a little bread, which is some of the best bread I have ever had, and I was satisfied until breakfast in the morning.
How is the food? Well, it is mainly a vegetarian diet, with only eggs and fish being served as non-vegetarian protein. Very little cheese is used in the food. I went into the experience thinking the food would be bland and I would just suffer through it. There was no need.
Every dish was perfectly flavored. I couldn’t believe what they could do with vegetables! The fish was deliriously good—fresh and flaky. During table service for dinner it was hard to decide between the two entrée choices, so most nights I got the “combo,” which included a little of both.
Allergies are taken seriously at Rancho La Puerta, but you do need to be every watchful, especially if you have less common allergies. Soy milk is used in the smoothies, but the smoothies do not have an ingredient list when they are put out in the Gazebo for afternoon snacks. Mushrooms are also found in many of the kitchen items. Always ask if you aren’t sure. I am allergic to both mushrooms and soy.
There was always an allergen free version of lunch made for me if these ingredients were cooked in the regular version. Dinners are a bit easier, as everyone with dietary restrictions gets a placard with your name and a number on it. When you check in your first day, see the maitre d’ to get on the allergy list and they will make sure that at every dinner you have a full meal that does not have ingredients you are allergic to in it.
The biggest food complaint I heard while at Rancho La Puerta is that there is not enough protein offered during the buffet breakfast and lunch. On the surface this is true, but what you need to know is that you can ask for items that you may not see. Need some hard-boiled eggs? Just ask. Tuna with lunch or a little extra food at dinner? Just ask.
Snack time at Rancho La Puerta
There are snacks offered up throughout the day, including fruit and smoothies. These can be found in the Main Lounge or the Gazebo across from the lounge.
Note about allergies: Snacks are not always labeled with a list of ingredients. If you have soy allergies, make sure you ask what ingredients are in the smoothies. I broke out into hives after indulging in a smoothie one afternoon, not realizing until the next day that it was made with soy milk.
Water and beverages
Rancho La Puerta has several water stations suitable for drinking across the ranch and one specific faucet in your room you can use to refill your water bottle. The water is treated by reverse osmosis and tastes wonderful. Outside of most of the exercise class buildings you will find water fountains that had purified water in them.
After exercising all day, and hiking in the desert heat, water was more than necessary throughout the day. Dinner always offered flavored water with lime, cucumber or herbs grown in the Ranch garden. Limes were always available at the drink stations to add to your water, or you could enjoy coffee, ice tea or hot tea if you got tired of water.
Internet access is offered at Rancho La Puerta, but only in specific spots. You do not have Internet access in your room. You can get a wi-fi signal in the Internet lounge, the Main Lodge and the Bazar Del Sol wine bar. This was inconvenient at times, but also makes you focus on your health and wellness, instead of emails and the daily prater of Facebook.
Sample Rancho La Puerta Itinerary
- 6:30am or 7am Hike
- 8am Breakfast
- 9am Pilates
- 10am Yoga
- 11am Cardio Boot camp
- 12pm Lunch
- 1pm Nutrition or Stress lecture (or free time)
- 2pm Dance Class
- 3pm Sand Volleyball or Spa treatment
- 4pm Foam Roller or Ranch Spanish Class
- 5pm Change for dinner
- 8pm movie in the library
Every hour there are at least 5 things to do especially in the morning. Between 12 and 2pm your options go down so you have time to eat and rest up before your next set of classes. I found myself taking four classes a day. I do encourage you to sneak in at least one spa day during your visit. Soak in the hot tub, get a Japanese facial and let your weary bones relax for a bit. This is a vacation after all. No one will yell at you if you don’t show up for class.
PIN IT FOR LATER!
Many thanks to Rancho La Puerta for hosting me in May for the purposes of review. As always my opinions are my own; when they aren’t you will be the first to know.