Considered one of the best wellness resorts in the world, Golden Door—located in the serene valley of San Marcos, California (just north of San Diego), was founded in 1958 as one of the first luxury spas of its kind—welcoming such icons as Liz Taylor and Burt Lancaster. After a long-time guest purchased the property (hey, why not) in 2014, a full reno occurred, whilst keeping to its original Ryokan Japanese Inn feel.
Every year, the spa reserves six weeks for its so-called “Men’s Camp” for men looking for respite from the grind of daily life and to regain a little life balance, drop a few pounds, or partake in a friendly game of water volleyball (hey, why not). If you’re not looking to recreate an ‘80s beach movie montage, take advantage of one of the in-room massages or choose from the menu of restorative body treatments. Or, take a hike—literally.
Across the 600 acres, you’ll find twenty miles of hiking trails that span mountain to meadow, as well as biodynamic gardens, certified organic citrus orchards, and a transplanted olive grove.
Executive Chef Greg Frey Jr. brings the cultivation of farm-to-table cuisine to life with three meals per day and seasonal menus catered to ingredients grown and produced on the property, along with hyper-local sourcing of seafood and poultry.
With a 4:1 staff ratio catering to guests’ every need and only 40 rooms—each with sliding doors opening to the surrounding Japanese gardens, the result is a highly-personalized, welcome throwback to quieter, unplugged times (but don’t panic, there’s wifi on the property).
To boot, Golden Door gives 100% of net proceeds to charity and their mission is to help children of abuse. According to actor and fan of the resort, Liev Schrieber, “There is a truly authentic culture of generosity and compassion at the Golden Door… It felt like a really big part of the growth and rejuvenation we experienced in our week together.”
Chef, restaurtateur and author Ludo Lefebvre is another fan and loyal guest. After many years of 16-18 hour days in the kitchen and the endless hustle of opening restaurants, he found himself drawn to the restorative nature of the resort. “I needed a break, a time for me, a time to refocus. I’ve now been back to Golden Door year after year, as it’s the one rare time in our modern time that you can spend time solely focused on ‘you.’ A little forced self-love is great for you anyway, and I have told my wife it’s just something that needs to be in the budget every year.” Hey, why not!
With only three weeks left available for 2022, we recommend getting on it sooner than later.