Over the Border Healing

Over the Border Healing

Photo courtesy of Montevalle Villas, by Julio Rodriguez

Spa aficionado Mary Bemis checks out the new alternative health retreat in Baja.

A healing retreat is built on a relationship between a healer and a place of healing, and nowhere is this more evident than at Montevalle Health & Wellness Resort, a new retreat center deep in the heart of the beautiful Guadalupe Valley in Baja. The Guadalupe Valley was the last mission established in the Californias, in 1834. In the early 1900s, Guadalupe was a farming colony, settled by people of a mixture of spiritual Christian faiths. The new retreat—idyllically set on 25 lush lavender-filled, boulder-strewn acres dotted with olive trees, grape vines, and a variety of humble and hearty indigenous flowers and plants—was dreamt up and founded by Carlos Bautista, MD, who has devoted his 30-year medical career to research and practice with natural and holistic therapies. The place feels as if spirituality was sown in the land only to take root and sprout up as Montevalle.

With just 14 villas and six more in the making, Montevalle is an adults-only respite designed specifically to detoxify and reinvigorate. Therapeutic treatments include vitamin- and mineral-infused IV therapies (I opted for the Immune Boost and Skin Health infusions), biomagnetic therapy, Mag Ray heat lamp therapy, Rife therapy (a treatment that delivers electromagnetic waves through the hands or feet), and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. I tried nearly all of them during my two-day stay—the only one I couldn’t handle was the hyperbaric chamber. I gave it my best shot, but the pressure was just too much for me.

Bautista shares with me that he “wanted to create a place more medically-oriented, where you can do more than relaxation; where you can stimulate your immune system, detox. I wanted to go to the next step, other than creating a spa.”

When not undergoing treatments (overseen by a warm and maternal RN), I spent time relaxing in the heated pool and hot tub, walking the labyrinth and the reflexology path, and savoring the clean, low-glycemic, seasonal cuisine of the kind-hearted and creative Chef Raul Nuñez. I believe Chef Nuñez is capable of creating special dishes for health and dietary challenges we don’t even know yet exist.

Of special note is the wine, produced from the property’s proprietary vineyard nearby. The Guadalupe Valley actually produces 90 percent of Mexico’s wines, and, for better or worse, the region has become a travel hotspot with more boutique hotel options than ever—which is what makes Montevalle so special. It has heart and purpose well beyond wine.

And that brings me back to the beginning of this piece: Every retreat is a relationship between healer and place of healing. Bautista, who opened the Immunity Therapy Center in Tijuana in 2007, has been providing medical and holistic care using alternative treatments for those who have cancer, autoimmune diseases, and chronic diseases. (He also holds a Master’s degree in nutrition.) He is a deeply dimensional and thoughtful man who got into alternative treatments because of his personal history with his father, who had cancer.

His main reason for creating Montevalle, he tells me, is to offer these treatments to healthy people who want to stay healthy. “I wanted to create a place where people could escape the noise of the city, have contact with nature, and be able to stimulate their immune system. This is a place that is not expensive, where you can spend two to four days and a doctor will see you and provide the best treatment for what you need. We want to detoxify, restore, and reinvigorate. We have the right reasons, all we want to do is help people and have fun as well doing it.”

The retreat, which officially opened in January of this year, is working on a bunch of new offerings, including a number of spiritual programs overseen and implemented by Gustavo Chavez, Montevalle’s holistic therapist. Offerings include meditation, active meditation (in the labyrinth and along the reflexology path), and Reiki. Chavez, who has a degree as a Reiki master (and whose mother was a Reiki master), has been practicing for 16 years and believes that there is a great need for these treatments now.

“We are living in times where we need to reconnect with ourselves and learn how to quiet the mind, learn how to get rid of daily stress,” Chavez shares with me. “Most of the physical situations that reflect in our body are connected to our emotions. They begin with emotions that we haven’t been taught how to deal with, and at the end of the day, emotions are always going to be there. We need to learn how to deal with them, and these kinds of holistic treatments help us understand [and] communicate with our body in a more peaceful and balanced way.”

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Montevalle Villasby Julio Rodriguez 1

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