This Wellness Retreat Is the Key to Unlocking Mexico’s Gorgeous Wine Country
Bonus: You can drive from LA to Montevalle before lunch
If you know someone who’s recently been introduced to the charms of Valle de Guadalupe, aka Mexican wine country, then you’ve probably already heard the whole spiel: It’s as beautiful as Italy while still within driving distance from Los Angeles, the wines are actually good — no, really — and the food scene is otherworldly, even for Mexico. It’s the kind of place that converts people from first-time visitors into fanatics almost instantly, and because of that, even if you haven’t yet been, it’s likely on your list. After all, a wine country experience is much cheaper in pesos than euros, and arriving in a hidden wine valley by car in under four hours sounds almost too good to be true.
As the area grows into a popular destination for Californians who are looking for foodie spots and wine tasting rooms, resorts with other modalities in mind are opening, too. One such property, simply named Montevalle, is a health- and wellness-focused hotel that took advantage of a remote area in this beautiful Baja California valley to set up a sprawling, bungalow-style resort. With 14 private bungalows, and six more being built, this resort is not a typical hotel — room service and restaurants aren’t running at all hours of the day, and there aren’t even many common areas for guests.
Yes, there’s a pool and a hot tub, and meals are served three times a day in a dining room up on a hill with a view, but the focus here is on a health center and spa where a number of holistic treatments are available. While most hotels are owned by hospitality companies, local hoteliers or corporate conglomerates, this one is owned by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a medical professional who believes the detoxing methods he’s been using for decades will be helpful both to patients who are ill, and also anyone who is burnt out from their current lifestyle. Check out some of the best parts of his unconventional wellness resort below.
Wellness for Guests and Day Trippers
The focus of this hotel is on the many treatments that the on-site health center offers, so it features all-inclusive booking. A $250 day pass gives a guest access without the need to stay overnight, or it costs about $495 per day with a private villa included. Overnight and day-pass guests can access the following therapeutic protocols: biomagnetic therapy, Rife therapy, mag ray therapy, hyperbaric oxygen, pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, laser therapy and UVBI therapy. There are also IV infusions of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients geared toward detox, immune boosting, skin health, weight loss and more. Additional health-focused activities include yoga, meditation, and a massage treatment called wine therapy that uses local grapes as a scrub and regular massage, with more on the way.
These design-focused villas from Mariana Postlethwaite of Casa Duhagon are some of the nicest I’ve ever stayed in. They earn the distinction of luxury with large, plush king beds (some rooms offer two doubles, others California kings), walk-in showers, a private deck with a swing chair and the very necessary duality of both AC and a heater, adjustable to your liking. Above the bed is a lofted seating area that, along with the outdoor deck, looks out on the property’s gorgeous views of lavender fields and mountains in the distance. If you wanted to work out a rate with the hotel to stay for the rooms and skip the wellness protocols, it would still be worth a visit.
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Since the area is dry and arid, the landscaping is done with patterned rocks and sand, with hardy, hot-weather plants instead of grass and shrubs. Large boulders scattered throughout the area offer stark contrast to the olive trees, lavender and indigenous plants and flowers. Man-made additions like a meditation labyrinth, a reflexology path and even tennis courts add to the beauty. With a good amount of space between them, the villas are also positioned nicely, so one room isn’t blocking the valley view of another.
Come for the Detox, Stay for the Wine
Be mindful that the meals will be served on a set schedule, with little room for substitution. While certain dietary restrictions can be accommodated, there isn’t a selection of dishes or a menu that guests can order from, but two or three courses pre-determined by the kitchen served daily. When I stayed on property, there were no snacks or drinks in the room either, beyond coffee and water, so if you don’t do well with a set schedule — and extremely health-conscious dishes — packing a few nibbles for your room might be the move.
Would it really be a visit to wine country without a little wine? While Montevalle has yet to complete the construction of a planned tasting room, they do make their own wine every year with grapes from a proprietary vineyard and serve it to guests at lunch and dinner. While you should go easy on the vino if you’re detoxing, this area does it right, with extremely drinkable reds and light, crisp whites. These wines were also available for sale at the property’s gift shop, along with several other locally made products — top-tier souvenirs, and easily stowed in the trunk for the trip back home.
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