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“It's not what you Lose, It's what you Gain!”
Review of Golden Door

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Golden Door
Ranked #6 of 16 Hotels in Escondido
Reviewed July 26, 2013

What a life-affirming experience-my second. Even during enjoyable Food and Wine week, I lost weight due to the numerous interesting fitness options. Many opportunities for inner work through T'ai ch, yoga and meditation. Staff couldn't be nicer, and kitchen prepares wonderful quality and quantity of food. Zen-like grounds add to the calming experience. Small number of guests create opportunities for meeting new friends and sharing laughter and good times. I took home great memories, a new workout, and a rejuvenated body and soul.

Room Tip: All guests assigned a single room. How close do you want to be to the center of activity? Is mobil...
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  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with friends
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9  Thank Carol N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 22, 2013

The Golden Door Spa was opened in 1958 and it's fair to say that its founder, Deborah Szekely, practically invented the modern spa. With a zen-like atmosphere that is rooted in Japanese culture -- and a well maintained property to match -- the first thing one wants to do on arrival is exhale. But, as other writers have noted, this is not a typical hotel spa.

The first big difference is that guests really should make a full week commitment to get the most out of a Golden Door experience. It's part boot camp, part ashram, part summer camp, and certainly, part indulgent spa. It's a great place to turn bad habits on their ear and put healthy ones in place, from exercise that's matched to your fitness and interest levels, to meditation for those looking for a break from the "real world." For the truly industrious, there is a daily 5:30 am hike that those who took it proclaimed life changing. (I decided to sleep instead, and that was OK, too.)

But, of course, this is a "spa," and there's a rich array of indulgent body and skin treatments -- including a massage in your private room every day -- and a Japanese style bathhouse that's open and available all day. With 7 days ahead of you, there's time for everything from a mani-pedi to kick off the week to deep cleansing facials, and a body scrub that left me with the softest skin I've had in 10 years.

The second really distinguishing aspect of the Golden Door is that there are only 35 or 40 rooms, and there's 1 guest per room. It's small so it can be very intimate in terms of catering to your needs (and wants), but also in that you can get to know the other guests during your week. I found myself chatting with people I would never have otherwise met and it was fascinating. I had the feeling I had made new friendships (just like summer camp).

What's truly exceptional about this spa is that once you are there, most everything has been arranged for you (based on your interests, of course). You can do what you want, but if what you want is a daily plan that's healthy and balanced and where all the decisions have been made with you in advance, you have it. No fuss, no bother. And that seems to let everyone think about other, more important things.

Meals are tailored to your body size and optimal caloric intake. They start with breakfast served in your room. Lunch and dinner was around the pool or in the dining room, but I noticed that some people had meals delivered to their room. And there are healthy snacks regularly scheduled. They have a new chef from Nobu and honestly, the food was delicious and filling, even with smaller, more healthful portions. I learned that it is possible to eat really well without all the fats and carbs!

I visited the Golden Door in July 2013 and had an extraordinary Friday evening dinner that was set in their gardens. The new CEO said it was the first time ever that this had every been done and if they do it again, I am going to time my next stay to it. There were two long tables under a string of lights and the delicate scent of the garden just wafted over all of us. The chef said the vegetables had been pulled from the ground just hours before -- which probably is the fastest example of "farm to table" I've ever experienced! Jeff, who manages the gardens, said that they grow all the vegetables served at the Golden Door and will soon be raising all their own eggs, too.

Now, for the "ashram" part of the experience...the "golden door" is a pathway to enlightenment, and that kind of worried me before I got there. I am a spiritual person but privately so. There are classes about mindful living, meditation sessions and a few rituals that are woven into the week. The good news is that the ones that I attended were uplifting rather than preachy...and there was absolutely no pressure to attend anything that didn't interest me. What surprised me was that more of it interested me than I thought would interest me. It was peaceful and a nice balance to all the exercise. (I even tried my hand at archery.)

The Golden Door has a new owner and they talked about changes that I think will only make it better. The rooms were nice enough -- comfy bed, clean room and very well attended -- but the planned renovations will be welcome, especially the updates to the bathrooms, which will modernize them.

Three final notes:

1. the grounds are so, so beautiful. Just walking them was restorative - both as exercise and relaxation. The plantings are mature and lush, there are little brooks and "water moments" all over (including a koi pond with fish that flipped out of the water when we passed, as if to say "hello!").

2. the staff at every level was so kind and engaging, just really lovely people, from the maids to the CEO, who was on the property and checking in with guests every day I was there. You really felt that everyone was paying attention to everything.

3. last but not least...the week isn't inexpensive, but once you've paid for your week, you don't really have to pay for anything else. (There are special treatments that come at an extra charge, but you can do the whole week without any of them, if you want to cap your spending.)

After my stay, it was clear to me why the Golden Door has thrived for more than 50 years. It's a place like no other and worth the time and money.

Room Tip: Let the reservations manager know if you like a light-filled room or a cozy darker room because they...
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  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with friends
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17  Thank Rosemary-NY
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 11, 2013

Just spent a week at 'the Door.' To say it was life changing is an understatement. I went for some rest/relaxation and to focus on fitness and inner focus.... I accomplished my goal many times over.... and i learned so much during my stay! From the minute you arrive to the second you leave, the experience is truly amazing. ALL of the staff members treat you so well...and make you feel so special. They can't seem to do enough for you! I found it interesting that when i was not certain where something was... and asked, each person actually walked you to the location! Having been to a few spas, i can say with 100% certainty this is the best experience. The services... fitness and spa are TOP notch...The facilities (fitness, spa.... public areas, etc) are high end and up-to-date... the grounds are beautiful and well-kept. The food was delicious and beautifully presented. I have strict food allergies ...as did other women present and i was impressed how they prepared individual meals based on preferences... never one glitch! I was impressed with the dedication and experience of the staff members...and amazed how so many of the staff have been at the Door for many, many years... You can tell how much they love what they do...and it clearly shows! They seem quite peaceful, motivated and professional.... A typical day.... wake at 5:00 for a 5:45 or 6 am hike... breakfast in the room.... then fitness classes intertwined with 'inner focus' lectures till Noon... Lunch at the pool....spa services consisting of a massage each day. facial 4 times per week... herbal wraps, etc... The after noon consisted of more fitness and spa services... as well as lectures.. Your laundry is done each day and your room is cleaned twice per day... I found the amenities excellent and high quality. Each evening, we had dinner as a group.. then an evening activity... I met 30 fabulous women... all down to earth...interesting and intelligent! I made some life long friends here! I can't say enough about the Golden Door........it is truly an experience i can never forget...i look forward to going back many times over and over!

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled solo
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4  Thank Elisa S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 6, 2013

This is so much more than some resort spa. Ive been to almost every spa in the US and this is unlike any other. It's a great revitalizing, nurturing experience. Staff are fabulous and the ratio to guests is unprecedented. It's a great place for any woman .. From executives to moms...if you want to feel great and have fun doing it, this is the place. I love to hike, and they have all levels of hiking at all speeds. You get a personal trainer for the week to do what you want, and where else can you do archery...or dance with a former broadway choreographer. Also, massages are first rate, from Swedish to Thai and now Kiatsu ( Shiatsu in the water). Love the facials and herbal wraps as well. Food is great, people are great and there is a reason that the return rate is unlike anywhere in the world. I know once I found it, I stopped looking. Also, to address another comment ..it was bought by a hotel group, but RECENTLY it was bought by a regular visitor who is determined to bring it to a more amazing level. Only going to get better, and it's already pretty great

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled solo
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4  Thank Laurie G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 5, 2013

I had the pure pleasure of spending a week at Golden Door during men's week in June 2013. It was the ultimate week of pleasure AND benefit. The staff is amazingly friendly, supportive, generous hearted and helpful. The grounds and physical facilities are superb with amazing landscaping and a very therapeutic environment. The physical activity options are vast, diverse and engaging. The culinary experience was nutritious and delicious. The massages and spa treatments were excellent, soothing and very therapeutic.
The Door was recently purchased by a private party that has been a guest for many years and there is an air of excited anticipation and optimism with their future plans. My only regret was that after 8 incredible days I had to return to reality though I was enriched, nourished and totally blessed.

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled with friends
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5  Thank Doctor Nick Y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Golden Door

Address: 777 Deer Springs Rd, Escondido, CA 92069-9757
Location: United States > California > Escondido
Amenities:
Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Room Service Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #6 of 16 Hotels in Escondido
Price Range: $200 - $5,375 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Golden Door 4*
Number of rooms: 40
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Golden Door is legendary health & wellness experience that’s personalized to you. Guests relax, restore and refresh on a journey focused on personalized fitness, spa and nutrition programs, thoughtfully designed to meet the specific goals and needs of each individual. Located in a serene valley a few miles north of San Diego and south of Los Angeles, the Golden Door is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the tranquility of this unique spot on earth. The resort is nestled in 600 acres of nature to hike, run or simply explore. With more than 30 miles of hiking and walking trails, mountains to climb, vistas to discover, and a bamboo forest that gives voice to the wind, guests are surrounded by breathtaking beauty that nurtures the soul. 100% of Golden Door’s net profits go to philanthropic causes, including helping to end child abuse and transform young lives. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Golden Door Hotel Escondido
Golden Door Escondido

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