I love a good wellness resort. Besides the obvious (holistic realignment, healthy food, meditation, letting go), I’m a fan of traveling alone on a wellness journey. But I had never done a mens only program, so I tried “men’s week” at Golden Door Resort in California. While it was closed during Covid-19, it officially reopened September 6, 2020. If you’re going to go, remember to check out our 9-point guide on traveling safe during Covid-19.
Golden Door, a 40-room retreat located an hour outside San Diego and deep in the valleys of San Marcos, California, encourages you to interact with other guests. Not just interact, but really bond with them.
Maybe because I’m an Aquarius (loner, rebel, independent), I was super not into it, and even a little disturbed when I arrived early in the evening and learned I would have to eat dinner with the other guests. In fact, for Men’s Week at Golden Door, which happens six times a year, you really have no choice. I told the staff member I prefer to order room service. “Oh, you’ll want to have dinner with the other guests,” she said. “Trust me.”
And thus began my journey.
Spanning a whopping 600 acres, Golden Door is soulful and grounding—and very exclusive. In fact, rates run about $10,000 a week, which makes it a huge magnet to CEOs and celebrities (I was there with a celebrity chef and the manager for Aerosmith). The remote sanctuary acquired by billionaire philanthropists who spent $15 million in renovations and reopening it. Damn, did they succeed. The resort has been around since 1958 and still feels timeless, and there are meadows, citrus groves, bamboo forests and manicured Japanese-inspired gardens that truly transport you to a blissful state immediately.
Like many high-end wellness resorts, guests are offered fitness classes, hikes, a sensible meal plan, lectures and a host of spa treatments, all included in the rate. Yes, spa treatments are included (which is *not* typical at many wellness resorts), as well as a private trainer I was paired with.
When you arrive, you pick a “theme” or “goal” (mine was strength training) then have a one-on-one consultation to establish daily itineraries to achieve that goal. I’d find out later that the “goal” would just be the vehicle to what guests actually take away from the experience.
Back to Men’s Week at Golden Door. A men’s-only program is super rare. In fact, I’ve visited dozens of top wellness resorts, from Chiva Som in Thailand to Ananda in India, and they do not have men’s week. In fact, no other resort in the world offers a program strictly for male clients— but they might want to.
I was a bit intimidated upon arrival, but in the five days I spent here, the camaraderie among the 15-ish guests became deep. They were all incredibly successful, like the celebrity chef, Aerosmith’s manager, and CEOs and founders of important brands (obviously I can’t name names since privacy was a big thing). I could tell they were the ball-busting, egomaniac types outside the resort, but here, they dropped their egos. Everyone was equal. A lot of them were returning visitors, which says a lot about the resort.
I hadn’t ever been in a travel situation where men, initially strangers, bonded so quickly and effortlessly. Bonding and forming friendships wasn’t just encouraged, it also felt natural. I’d like to think we had little choice (we couldn’t have our cell phones out in public), but the friendship and bonding was celebrated. People told stories; others listened. People made jokes; others laughed. People talked about struggles at home; others offered advice.
This was mostly during meals since guests were doing their itinerary the other times of the day. But since people bonded right away, they often changed their itinerary to spend more time with the other guys, like joining them for hiking or fitness classes.
One thing I loved about Golden Door is that it was so intimate. There’s only 40 people at a time within 600 acres. You feel like you have the entire place to yourself. Also, guests can be as active or passive as they like. There were days I went nuts with detoxing, trainer session, massage, lecture, fitness classes, yoga, meditation, and there were days l literally lied by the pool and read a book.
Also, Golden Door provides complimentary workout clothes, which I loved (and took), and Golden Door also offers its own branded high-end organic skincare line in the rooms. You know how I feel about hotel bathroom amenities, but these are completely safe and organic… go nuts!
After my stay, I was completely relaxed, no knot in a muscle, like that time I tried cryotherapy, though I wonder if it was the program at all, since science says male bonding lowers a man’s stress levels and allows him to gain happiness. The activities and amenities offered at Golden Door may be worth the money, but it was the quality time in the company of men that made me feel like a better person.
Golden Door Costs
Golden Door is expensive AF, which makes it exclusive AF.
This is what’s included in the rate:
Daily sessions with top personal trainers; fitness and wellness classes; hikes; homegrown organic meals (capped at 1,600 calories a day); daily massages and facials; privacy; exclusivity; cozy guest rooms.
I know $10,000 for a 7-night stay sounds like a lot of money. It is. It’s crazy. But, half the people I met there had gone because the stay was gifted to them (like, by their company), and honestly, the biggest takeaway is the experience. A stay at Golden Door is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I really connected to people I would never speak to outside of the resort, and I learned a lot about myself. That’s something you really can’t put a price on.
Have you done Men’s Week at Golden Door? Let us know in comments below!
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