Haute Retreat: The Golden Door


If there’s a more luxurious retreat for the mind, body and soul in Southern California, we’ve yet to find it.

A stay at the tony Golden Door in San Marcos is just what the doctor ordered for those who want to eat right, exercise all day long, find inner peace and take a moment to just breathe.

You can literally arrive with just the clothes on your back (though this writer personally arrived with an unnecessary suitcase full of designer workout gear in my borrowed Audi RS 5),  the team provides everything from warmup pants to windbreakers to the kimono they ask you to don for dinner.

The most fabulous part of the Golden Door is that everything is catered specifically to your needs. A daily schedule of workout classes (which can begin with a 6 am hike if you like) to the size of your meal to the way you like your massage — everything is taken into consideration.

Female guests will swoon to discover they have both a massage and a facial included in their daily ‘itinerary’, as well as herbal wraps and manicure/pedicures throughout the week.

But the beauty aspect is just one of many. There are meditation sessions, yoga classes and inner focus groups, as well as nightly workshops with guest speakers.

A week at The Golden Door includes a personal program interview, up to four sessions with a personal trainer (request Nick Poggi, he’s stellar), a customized take-home fitness plan including printed exercise routines, your choice of twelve different mountain and meadow hikes on 20 miles of private trails (the resort is 377 acres in full), a selection of over 40 fitness classes including self discovery and improvement option, an 11-circuit Labyrinth and Classical 7-circuit Gratitude Labyrinth, three healthy, gourmet meals per day and a cooking class with the executive chef.

The resort is so intimate that only 40 guests are allowed to stay at any one given time, and each has their own private room with a garden deck or patio. Classes are small and everything is personalized: in fact, there’s a 4-to-1 staff to guest ratio.

In addition to the VIP service and privacy you’ll find here, the reason so many elite travelers return time and time again despite the weekly price tag of $7000+ is that it’s an experience unlike any you’ll find anywhere else. Each night the guests make a trek after dinner to the actual golden door. It is an unspoken promise, a wish, that they will be back — and they always, always return.

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