Founders Story - Rancho La Puerta

Family-owned and operated

Family-owned and operated since June, 1940, when the first guests arrived at a beautiful Baja California campsite created by Edmond Szekely and his young wife Deborah, Rancho La Puerta has been changing lives now for over 75 years.

Deborah, now over 95, still lectures weekly and is hard at work on her many projects to spread the word about American’s need to live a healthier more-active lifestyle that is also supported by a protected, chemical-free environment.

Her daughter Sarah Livia guides the modern-day Ranch as President after long being the visionary behind The Ranch’s transformation into a garden oasis, as well as the guiding force behind our environmental sensibilities, organic farming, and cooking school successes. Deborah’s son Alex, who passed away in 2002, also guided much of The Ranch’s transformation into a luxurious-yet-artful resort during the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Rancho La Puerta …seeks to guide those who are interested in a sane, well-balanced program of living. It emphasizes that health is the consequence of living in harmony with all the forces of nature, according to the laws of nature. It puts all the preconditions of such a life at the disposal of its members, and trains them according to the basic, ageless pattern of simple, natural healthy life for the body, and the utilization of all the values of science, literature, philosophy and the arts, for the mind…It is veritably a “School of Living” where the vital needs of the total man and woman are taken into account.

– From an early Rancho La Puerta brochure, c. 1945

Deborah Remembers

Brooklyn-born Deborah Shainman (May 3, 1923), daughter of a tailor and a “health nut” mother, has lived a glorious life worthy of a novel’s most unlikely plot. As a young girl, family moved to Tahiti during the Great Depression. There they met “the professor” —Edmond Bordeaux Szekely — who had taken over one of their favorite swimming holes for one of his health camps. A long relationship developed between the family and Edmond, culminating in the marriage of Deborah to Edmond in 1939, and the new couple’s journey to Baja California, Mexico, in search of a site for their latest health summer camp. That same site today is Rancho La Puerta.


Our motto has always been “Siempre Mejor,” which means “Always Better.” Our co-founder, Deborah, believes this must also mean “Always Changing.” The Ranch reflects this, from the ground up.

An Improbable, Many-Chaptered History

To browse Rancho La Puerta’s history in more detail, please enjoy some of our newsletter’s “Origins of the Ranch” chapters, collected here. Our evolution from a most primitive “health camp” into a sublime, world-class resort didn’t happen overnight. What has remained unchanged, however, is our commitment to protecting nature and the balance of mind, body and spirit that mankind has sought for millenia.

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