a traveler US
This is my 4th Ranch experience. While I had another nice week, I do feel like it is getting too expensive to return, especially when there are other options that are very similar. Yes, it NEAR Malibu but really $7000 for one week is just too much. As usual, you will hike 8-10 miles per day ( or 3-4 hours). You will do yoga and other classes. You will lose weight/inches and feel great at the end of the week. The owners are nice and may hike at least one of the days. The staff is good and certainly, Lisa is a lot nicer than their former camp director. The chef does an amazing job with the food but I will agree with another reviewer...donot dare to question her or inquire too much about her food. She is NOT nice. She is condescending and arrogant. The yoga classes were great and the lady who came up for some of the circuit classes ( can't remember her name) was awesome. She was enthusiastic and entertaining. The one thing I don't like about the hikes is the way that NO guides are really ever with you on the hikes. If you happen to be faster or slower than others and don't fit the pace with a group of folks, you will be alone. Technically there are guides around but they are way out in front or further back. If I came across a wild animal I would have been on my own. I remember one day I was getting concerned I was lost. I was following the orange flags but kept going and going and going and it had been awhile since I had seen someone or heard anyone on the radios. Finally, we have turned around. Just not the best "security" of the guests in my opinion. Others hiked in bunches if they matched pace, but my pace was off from the fastest and faster than some others so I was by myself almost all week. The pool is nice but the hot tub was overcome with bugs. I got it but quickly got out as there were just too many bugs. The massages are great!
The last thing I will complain about is the continued lack of wireless or cell service I agree with the general concept of getting away and disconnecting. However, with teenagers at home, there is security in being able to have them text you. Cell service is available near the owners home ( top of the mountain), so you know it is there but no boosters or wireless are installed on the official ranch property so not an option. They should make it available in the rooms if those who desire it wants it. It could be purchased for a fee. I have been to other places that allow it and it doesn't detract from the week or overall experience.
Overall, a good place, great results, good food but getting too expensive to justify.
I did not love the ranch.
to be honest, I'm not sure why. the intention is there. the property is lovely. the people know their stuff. no detail is left undone. I love how my jeans now fit, but I really found the ranch to be a bit of a disappointment.
some of my major complaints:
not one of the staff members made much of an effort to learn anything about me and what I was hoping to accomplish during the week sure, there were several "go around the table and tell us what you are grateful for" activities, but they seemed forced and programmed. in a place with such a high staff to guess ratio I expect at least an attempt at some sort of personal connection. I find it off-putting how I know more about the lives of the staff than they do about mine.
the incessant lecturing, particularly at dinner. ok, I get it, we're eating clean. but I'm here to cleanse my head, as well as my body and the constant drill about what I should be eating in my day to day life, grew old the first day. I get it, the employees know a lot about nutrition, now shut up and let me eat.
nothing annoys me more than someone putting a plate of hot food in front of me then making me listen to a recitation of what's in it. I put up with it at chef run restaurants because it takes a second or two, but here, some nights two chefs described in detail how they make every single thing on my plate. sometimes it took fifteen minutes. excuse me. I hiked five hours today. I'm hungry. let me friggin eat.
several times during the week, new employees were being trained. of course, every business needs to break in new staff members, but at 6500 for basically five days, I don't want it done on my time. I want experienced guides who know the route, don't ask me which way to go and don't seem confused about how things work.
the exercise classes were lame. although I'm just a layperson when it comes to fitness, I have years of experience with this stuff and was surprised at how 1990 some of the exercises were. the yoga was basic at best and I was mortified to watch several heavies in the gut guests doing high-speed sit-ups with absolutely no ab muscles being used at all.
though there was much more food than I expected, except for a few salads which were enjoyable, I detested nearly everything I was served. I'd rather eat a small scoop of brown rice with the tablespoon of black beans than zucchini lovingly forced into spaghetti-like shapes coated with tomato sauce in an attempt to fool me into thinking I'm eating pasta. The granola, however, was fantastic.
there were two computers for guest use, but no wifi. I'd much have preferred to have been allowed to take care of the few business emails I needed to write in the privacy of my room than to have everyone bring their phones in the van and text and email like crazy on the way to the hikes. I understand the policy is to keep things work free and pure, but the high-powered folks who come here still have responsibilities in the real world and it would have been so much more peaceful not to have to have a busload of type a-ers frantically poking away at their iPhones the second we got far enough away from the ranch to receive cell signal.
I am a hardworking ambitious urban woman who knows how to get things done out in the working world. for me, I would have hoped a trip like this would have made me feel not only thinner, but a bit more nurtured. I thought the ranch had a rather icy tone to it and quite frankly, several of the employees were cold and mechanical. several guests stopped going to one leader's classes because of his impersonal and detached attitude. personally, I think when they designed this luxury version of a beloved local hiking spa, they left out the soul and don't even know that's the best part for me, it just didn't work.
Emily C United States
The Ashram website
I have traveled all over the world and stayed in amazing places, but this is indeed in a category of its own.
Trip Advisor website
I have been visiting the Ashram for years and will always return for my yearly retreat. The staff and guides are wonderful. The massages are top notch and the yoga set in a beautiful yoga dome is fabulous.
Jenny R, from Toronto, Canada
Trip Advisor website
I am a regular attendee of The Ashram and know that every week I spend there just makes me a better and happier being. Better for my world at home, and better for my soul. The Ashram is a magical spot, spiritually rich and mentally and physically challenging. After a week the excess we all carry around is shed, and we return to our homes ready and able to live better and richer lives. The hikes are awesome...hard but good hard, the food is amazing, clean, healthy, and the massages are tailored to your aches and pains. Cat and her team of leaders are smarts, warms, loving and intuitive....This is a special spot that will enrich and open your life.
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