Blumenthal: Hooked on healthy living in Mexico
As hard as it might be for those familiar with my appearance, genial personality and general air of sophistication, it might come as a surprise that I’m not one to normally frequent a health spa. But here I am in Tecate, Mexico, at Rancho La Puerta, and it’s been a life-enriching and -enhancing experience.
Paulette and I, along with a couple of friends, first came here about 40 years ago when it was just a small, very rustic, hippy-style health resort where you spent a few days trying to lose some weight and take a few exercise classes to get the blood flowing and keep the heart beating as long as possible. For no good reason, we had never returned, but I think we’re now hooked.
Not surprisingly, lots of things have changed in the past 40 years, not the least of which is the circumference of our waists, the slowness of our gait and the buildup of stress. This beautiful, environmentally sustainable compound is composed of more than 3,000 acres of open space and Mexican- and Indian-themed facilities all dedicated to guiding us to a healthier and more productive lifestyle.
Every morning begins with a variety of mountain hikes starting at 6:10 a.m. that run from two to seven miles with varied levels of difficulty. As you might guess, being one of the few — but not too few — macho guests, I challenged myself to the highest degrees of difficulty, and I’m happy to report that the endorphins kicked in each morning just as the degree of difficulty peaked.
It seems that lots of the female guests spend a good deal of time back home in intense training for these hikes because many of them violated our guides’ instructions that this was not a competition and aggressively attempted to pass me by on the steep and narrow trail sections, and to my ego’s chagrin, a few of them actually got away with it.
The hikes are followed by a sumptuous breakfast of all-natural foods, not a slice of bacon or sausage in sight, served in the beautiful hacienda-style dining room and on the adjoining shaded patios with spectacular views of Mount Kuchumaa surrounded by beautifully landscaped grounds and within earshot and eyeshot of a vast variety of native and migratory birds.
Speaking of birds, don’t miss the bird and nature walks led by the resident naturalist. Where else can you examine up-close in your hand a piece of barn-owl poop in order to identify the skeletons of the varmints recently feasted upon?
All the vegetables eaten here are grown on the ranch’s vast garden acreage, which includes a state-of-the-art cooking-school kitchen. Although I couldn’t convince Paulette to try her hand at a cooking class, we did take a four-mile hike out to the vegetable and flower gardens one early morning and enjoyed a tour of the gardens and one of the best all-natural breakfasts we’ve ever had.
Then comes an extensive variety of hourly high- and low-impact exercise, stretch and yoga classes, holistic healing therapies and, my favorite, spinning and combo abs/spinning classes, followed by lunch, again natural but varied and delicious, with not a chicken or cow in sight.
Then more classes with a refreshment break around 4 p.m. for a varied selection of raw vegetables, crafted fruit waters and the daily miso selection often incorporating the most delicious mushrooms you’ve ever tasted.
Then a shower, a bit of rest and prep for dinner at 6.
For those not totally worn out by all the day’s intense activities, there’s an evening movie, a lecture by an invited expert on healthy-living topics and always bingo on Thursday night, which everyone attends not so much for the schlocky prizes but to hear the patter of the bingo leader, who is hilarious and pretty raunchy given the demographics of the guest list.
Then it’s early to bed in order to begin it all over again the next morning.
We’ve vowed to repeat this sometimes-grueling but mind-, body- and spirit-enriching experience annually, particularly because they enticed us with a generous discount if we re-booked for next year before we checked out. Needless to say, we couldn’t resist.
If you’d like more details contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Melville family didn’t distance themselves from ownership of a local mountainside chalet for too long.