Magazine: Rancho La Puerta best spa in world

Published 23 July 10 11:59 AM

Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 10:10 p.m.

Rancho La Puerta in Tecate had seen demand for its high-end spa services drop during the recession, but has recaptured that lost U.S. clientele in recent months.

Now more good news has arrived for the 70-year-old resort just south of the U.S.-Mexico border: Travel + Leisure magazine has named it the world's best destination spa.

"It tells us that guests appreciate what we're all about," said Roberto Arjona, the spa's general manager. "It's a great honor for Baja California and for Mexico."

The publication's 2010 Readers Poll recognized Rancho La Puerta along with honorees such as Bangkok (best city) and the Galapagos (best islands).

The spa's 88-year-old founder and owner, San Diego resident Deborah Szekely, is expected to attend next week's awards ceremony in New York City. She was traveling Thursday, Arjona said.

A largely loyal U.S. customer base meant the spa suffered far less than much of Baja California's tourism industry. But with rates starting at $2,715 for a seven-night stay, even well-heeled visitors dropped off during the financial downturn. At its lowest point, occupancy fell to 70 percent in 2009, though the spa is back to its 2007 levels.

Arjona said the economy was the strongest dampener of demand last year. Other challenges included the swine flu scare and drug-related violence along parts of the border.

And while the spa's prices may be out of reach for most local residents, the spa also has been a destination for 6,000 Baja California schoolchildren who come each year for environmental education offered through the La Puerta Foundation.


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