"I try to help guests clear their mind and experience their inner space," Pilgrim says. "Most people have never experienced this; in fact, many don't know what I'm talking about."
As for the food, there are lots of clever low-fat, low-cal entrees coming out of both ranch kitchens. Guests can eat, really eat, free of guilt. I had bread, pizza, caffeinated coffee, desserts--as much or as little as I wanted. Now entering its 54th year, RLP serves vegetarian fare and grows its food without pesticides in a six-acre garden on the property. RLP guests get butter with their bread and help themselves in the buffet line, while CR guests order from a menu, have a pasta bar and a salad bar, and feast on no-fat yogurt with no-fat chocolate sauce, waffles, risotto, hamburgers, French fries, lamb and beef tenderloin.
Both ranches generally have a few "prom queens" in residence, but they're definitely the exception. Having visited spas such as the Greenhouse in Dallas where ladies wear makeup and jewelry to dinner, I prefer both ranches, where most everyone walks around looking disorderly. Another wonderful feature of both places is that they're ideal for singles. At dinner, I was seated with others who had come solo, and the singles tables were always the liveliest.
At the end of my stay at either ranch, I have so much energy I can't stop squirming, but I'm so calm I've forgotten my ZIP Code. The last time I left Rancho La Puerta, I got off the plane, walked into my house and set off the alarm. I couldn't remember the security code. No, my hips don't disappear, but my stress sure does.
GUIDEBOOK: Ranch Renewals
Canyon Ranch Health and Fitness Resort, 8600 E. Rockcliff Road, Tucson, Ariz. 85715; tel. (800) 742-9000. Summer rates (mid-June to mid-Sept.) for eight days/seven nights: about $2,600 single, $2,350 double occupancy, including service charge and tax, five spa services, round-trip transfers from Tucson airport. Winter rates about 35% higher.
Rancho La Puerta, Tecate, Baja California; P.O. Box 463057, Escondido, Calif. 92046; tel. (800) 443-7565. Summer rates for eight days/seven nights: about $1,600 single, $1,300 double, including service charge and tax, round-trip transfers from San Diego airport. Winter rates about 10%-15% higher.
Rates for both spas are for minimum accommodations, three meals daily, fitness classes and use of all facilities. Extra medical and salon treatments are a la carte.