The Ranch at Live Oak
(SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS)
“I was in need of a real break. A place I could just ‘be’ – not where I’d be coming and going, checking things out, having sensory overload. A year after starting two businesses on the back of selling my last company – I’d moved country, re-done a large property/house, and was feeling out of balance. It was time to escape the day-to-day responsibilities, go somewhere beautiful (with no WiFi!) to find me again. This is just the place to do so – while losing weight, detoxing/cleansing, and getting on your best well-being track. The setting is nature-zen design-beauty; the team are all top-notch, the program demanding, the outcome: excellent - whatever your own outcome is. One of my best take-aways? Mental clarity.”
(Date Experienced: 1 full week in March 2011)
Clearing your head, losing weight and inches, (some in my group lost 12 pounds and 12 inches altogether from various areas) giving the digestive system a cleanse, getting back to nature and ultimately: yourself.
Go solo. You’ll get much more out of the experience going at it alone. You don’t have to be “anyone” – know one there knows you! Trust me.
There are so many – truly. The sunrise daily while in the yoga studio, how it felt to hike solo (when already in a calmer state of mind), the wonderful support from staff, the authenticity of their care. Large roaring fires and candlelit dining table welcoming us to dinner after a long day outside, the joyous feeling to have completed a tough 6½ hour hike!
Best time to go
My next stay here, I’ll not choose July thru September – the heat beating down while hiking is unappealing! Any other month of the year, with the dry, mostly sunny climate, will most likely be a good bet. Cools off at night no matter which month.
One of the points is to really push your body – both in exercise quantity and quality and in low caloric intake. Think: 8 hours of exercise daily on 1200-1500 calories of vegetarian cuisine. The program is ‘no options’ – so, guests should be prepared to push it... no room for wimps or princesses here.
All cottages are the same. Designed by Sue Glasscock, co-owner, each of the 16 is a 1-bedroom/bathroom zen, plush, tastefully designed cocoon in which to rest (and hide!). Secure, spotlessly clean and wonderfully comfortable bedding, towels and robes. The effect is that you can focus on your activity and rest – rather than worrying about being uncomfortable or out of your element.
Service & vibe
Alex Glasscock, co-owner, with director Marc Alabanza (8 + years as former director of The Ashram) interviewed 800 guides/trainers/coaches/instructors for 16 spaces. Each team member is excellent at what they excel at + caring, kind and helpful. I was impressed by and genuinely liked each of them. Not one is a “me first” or competitive with guests-type.
Not much! But satisfying, freshest ingredients and lovely presentation (at night: fireside; during the day: light-filled and airy). Kurt Steeber is their genius “Nutritional Alchemist”. Amazingly, the ranch farm provides 60% of the food that guests eat – prepared by Kurt & his assistant, Robin. Home grown: an assortment of lettuces, micro greens, root vegetables, assorted beans, artichokes and of course, the eggs of free-range, purely happy hens.
$5,600 for the six day program which includes everything (a massage daily, all classes, airport transfers etc.) but excludes: flights, personal nutrition consultation, acupuncture, chiropractor, staff gratuities)
Book by May 30th for a stay in 2011 and quote What’s Worth It to receive a complimentary acupuncture and chiropractic session.
To Do & See
Guests have no time to do anything other than the program. What you’ll see is the most amazing light, vegetation, views and changes... in yourself.
Sport & Activity
Here’s how the day shapes out: Wake up @ 5:30am. Yoga, breakfast hike, lunch, rest, fitness classes, 1 hour glorious deep massage, yoga, dinner, bed. A couple of specialists brought in some evenings to teach, inform or entertain guests.
Arrive a few days early, or stay a few days longer to enjoy the area! A few good choices in the Malibu/LA area are: The Malibu Beach Inn (upscale motel smack on the beach), The Santa Monica Fairmont (value for money, on Ocean Ave. - easy), The Beverly Hills Montage (upscale luxe and brand new – central to shopping and seeing/ being seen)
Make sure to buy the list of items the Ranch emails you weeks prior to your stay. If cooler weather – I recommend bringing your UGGS and a comfy fleece blanket to wrap around you in the living room/yoga class. DON’T bring brand new hiking boots, but do bring a bathing suit to enjoy the stunning pool and jacuzzi.
The experts Alex, Sue and Marc bring in to teach and help guests along on their well-being paths are no-nonsense and excellent. Highly recommend you see the nutritionist, the acupuncturist and the chiropractor. Remember: it’s all about you this week.
Malibu restaurants for before/after your Ranch stay. Here is what I wrote a couple of years ago on Suzanne’s Files (all still relevant): Restaurant File Malibu
Books recommended by Marc: Food Rules: An Eater's Manual
The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest
And be sure to read this recent article on The Ranch on the WSJ: The Starvation Vacation
+1 888 777 2177
+1 310 457 8700
Director: Marc Alabanza