Golden Door

San Marcos, USA

Features

  • Adults Only
  • Detox
  • Going Solo
  • Retreat
  • Wellness

Spa

  • Hydrotherapy
  • Pool
  • Thalassotherapy
  • Thermal Facilities

To Do

  • Bootcamp
  • Cycling
  • Gymnasium
  • Hiking/walks
  • Meditation
  • Personal training
  • Pilates
  • Pool – Indoor
  • Pool – Outdoor
  • Tennis
  • Yoga

Golden Door comes with a starry spa pedigree that other destination spas can only dream of. Their all-inclusive seven-day programme sets out to transform your health and fitness around from one Sunday to the next. The focus is on nourishing your soul as well as your body; the schedule includes mindfulness workshops, art classes and silent meditation walks.

The Programme

Days begin with a guided dawn hike and wind up with a soak in a hot tub; in between guests follow a personalised fitness programme and tuck in to an organic menu.

There’s an astonishingly well-equipped gym and various workout studios, two swimming pools and an impressive roster of over 40 free exercise sessions, including yoga, Tai Chi, barre, dance and free weights.

Unusually for California, where most endeavours require a car, you’ve also got immediate access to over 25 minutes of beautiful trails, with 12 marked hikes that you can explore solo or in guided groups.

Spa Facilities

  • Treatment rooms
  • Wastu pool
  • Jacuzzi
  • Steam
  • Sauna
  • Relaxation areas

Spa Products

Golden Door has their own line of Skincare products

To Stay

All 40 guest rooms are individual ryokan-style abodes, with sliding shoji doors, tatami mats and glowing lanterns, amped up with impeccably curated Japanese artwork and luxurious flourishes such as streamlined contemporary armchairs and stylish woven textiles.

To Eat

Food is a highlight at Golden Door, and both lunch and dinner are served, with ceremony, in the beautiful communal dining room. Menus are carefully calorie controlled, with chef Greg Frey serving up satisfying, locally-sourced, nutritionally-balanced dishes that will see you shedding pounds throughout the week.


Facilities and Activities

  • Mindfulness classes
  • Meditation
  • Life coaching
  • Numerous fitness classes including ballet, water aerobics, yoga, spinning, pilates and many others.
  • Astrology
  • Private tennis lessons
  • Pain empowerment
  • Nutrition coaching
  • Daily guided hikes
  • Private training
  • Speaker series with distinguished guests
  • Artisanal Foods & Skincare Line -100% of proceeds from resort and products go to charity

For the Kids

Golden Door is for those 18 years and older.


Getting There

777 Deer Springs Road, San Marcos, CA 92069, United States

(888) 758-3184

Golden Door is conveniently located 2 hours South of Los Angeles, and 45 minutes North of San Diego in Escondido, California.
Courtesy roundtrip transportation from San Diego or Los Angeles area airports.

If you are arriving by private jet, please note that McClellan/Palomar Airport (CLD) is most conveniently located. Please ask your pilot to call the Concierge Desk (760-744-5777) with the plane’s tail number so that you may be located at the airport.

Anna HartBy Anna Hart

Golden Door comes with a starry spa pedigree that other destination spas can only dream of. Opened in 1958 by Deborah Szekely, philanthropist, writer and early pioneer of the So-Cal wellness movement, this groundbreaking spa was soon attracting Hollywood luminaries such as Natalie Wood, Elizabeth Taylor, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Burt Lancaster, in preparation for film roles. Even today, the Golden Door tote that every guest is issued with on arrival still amounts to a membership card for a secret society of international high-flyers; more recent guests have included Tina Brown, Oprah Winfrey, Nicole Kidman, Barbra Streisand and Nigella Lawson.

Their all-inclusive seven-day programme is a serious splurge, but Golden Door sets out to transform your health and fitness around from one Sunday to the next. The focus is on nourishing your soul as well as your body; the busy schedule includes mindfulness workshops, art classes and silent meditation walks.

Keeping a spa relevant for six decades is a serious challenge, but Szekely’s original ethos holds true – eat fresh and ethically, keep active, live consciously, but relax and live a little – chimes perfectly with the Goop-reading masses. And a recent spiffy $5 million refurb has re-injected the wow factor into premises originally inspired by a Japanese ryokan, or inn, complete with traditional bathhouse, landscaped Japanese gardens, bamboo forest, labyrinth, koi ponds and Japanese art collection. As one returning guest put it, “I arrive at the Golden Door crawling on my hands and knees; I leave walking on air.”

The Spa

There is no gleaming modern complex of steam rooms and high-tech lightpods here; instead a small but perfectly formed traditional Japanese bath-house, with an inviting sauna, rather lovely hot tub, a handful of treatment rooms and a well-run beauty salon for facials, hairdos and other beauty treatments. (In a charming nod to its Hollywood starlet heritage, Golden Door treats you to a mani/pedi and blow dry before you leave.)

The Programme

Days begin with a guided dawn hike and wind up with a soak in a hot tub; in between guests follow a personalised fitness programme and tuck in to an organic menu. There’s an astonishingly well-equipped gym and various workout studios, two swimming pools (one for aqua-aerobics) and an impressive roster of over 40 free exercise sessions, including yoga, Tai Chi, barre, dance and free weights.

Unusually for California, where most endeavours require a car, you’ve also got immediate access to over 25 minutes of beautiful trails, with 12 marked hikes that you can explore solo or in guided groups. Bring a book; just don’t expect to read it for more than 30 minutes at a time.

  • 600 acres of native hills, meadows, Japanese gardens, and citrus groves
  • 12 mountain or meadow hikes of varying challenge on 25 miles of private trails
  • 7 state of the art gyms
  • 2 swimming pools
  • Watsu Water Therapy pool
  • 2 labyrinths
  • A lighted tennis court
  • A bathhouse with Jacuzzi, steam-room and sauna, and 9 skincare and body care treatment rooms
  • 5 acres of bio-intensive gardens

The Treatment

The Awakening Potential Massage uses the finest natural and organic ingredients – seven unique oil blends are each vibrationally attuned to one of the seven chakras. Each chakra and oil nourishes a different aspect of your physical, emotional and mental well-being. My massage began at the crown chakra, worked down to my feet and returned to the crown, followed by a cocoon wrap and “Crown Chakra” scalp massage with LUMINOUS Vibrational Oil. A deep relaxation and blissful experience.

Other Treatments

Craniosacral Therapy uses therapeutic light touch to manipulate the skull, face, spine and pelvis in order to regulate the flow of cerebrospinal fluid. The treatment relieves symptoms of stress, tension and enables deep relaxation. The therapy is beneficial in reducing chronic pain including low back pain, TMJ and migraines, and helps ease depression, neck and shoulder tension, and insomnia.

To Stay

Unlike other wellness spas with such an active focus, there is no compromise on luxury and glamour here at Golden Door. All 40 guest rooms are individual ryokan-style abodes, with sliding shoji doors, tatami mats and glowing lanterns, amped up with impeccably curated Japanese artwork and luxurious flourishes such as streamlined contemporary armchairs and stylish woven textiles.

Make no mistake: the seven-day Golden Door schedule is a busy one, so it’s a treat to return to a room that feels like a real refuge. Another nice touch is the comfortable set of cotton workout garments (for daytimes) and Japanese yukata robe (for dinner) waiting in your wardrobe and freshly laundered each day, so that you don’t even need to bother stressing about what to wear.

To Eat

Food is a highlight at Golden Door, and both lunch and dinner are served, with ceremony, in the beautiful communal dining room. Yes, the menu is carefully calorie controlled, but the hot young chef Greg Frey specialises in serving up satisfying, locally-sourced (ideally from Golden Door’s kitchen garden), nutritionally-balanced dishes that will somehow still see you shedding pounds throughout the week.

Breakfast might be a hearty porridge topped with chia seats and honeyed almonds or a vegetable frittata with goats cheese; lunch could be a sushi bento box or a grilled turkey sandwich; dinner a bloody steak or miso black cod; you also get treats like ginger cookies and panna cotta. A choice for each meal means you can always satisfy those cravings. Never, for a second, does the Golden Door menu feel like deprivation.

The staff at Golden Door deserve a special mention, all exuding charm, warmth and skill; they’re here because they are the best in their field. And during a busy, at times challenging week, knowing that you’re in safe, nurturing hands really counts. Massages are wonderful, but counselling sessions with the likes of the wonderful Annharriet Buck, who has been working at Golden Door since the 1970s, can be life-changing.

Facilities and Activities

The social aspect. Sure, when you’re tired, hungry and grumpy it can be tempting to retreat to your room for meals and between classes. But how often do you get the chance to have life-affirming heart-to-hearts with women aged 19-90?

Take some me-time when you need it, but don’t forget that countless fabulous female friendships have been forged on a dawn hike or during a gloriously daft dance class here. At Golden Door, the women you meet will be just as inspiring as the surroundings.