The Golden Door is a luxury spa retreat tucked away in the serene hills of San Marcos, California. Designed for serious-minded folks, the Golden Door is the perfect getaway for people who want to unplug and focus on mind, body, and spirit.

The spa is one of the most exclusive and celebrated wellness resorts in the world. It mostly caters to the rich and famous, but anyone from any walk of life can find their inner self at this posh resort.

And if you’re thinking this might be the perfect spot for a romantic rendezvous, think again. It’s a retreat that focuses on you.

Features of the Golden Door

The 600-acre property sits among majestic mountains and beautiful meadows. Japanese gardens, a bamboo forest, and citrus groves enhance the stunning landscape.

The resort features plenty of Zen symbolism throughout including stone lanterns and beautiful Japanese art. In fact, the very first thing you’ll see when you arrive at the Golden Door is a set of golden doors which open to a world all your own.

Personalization is key at the Golden Door. Your stay revolves around your interests, goals, and tastes.

For example, the resort contacts you a week before arrival for an in-depth phone interview. You’ll share your exercise and food preferences. Then, the staff creates a customized program and menu designed specifically for you.

When you arrive, you’ll receive a paper fan which lists a suggested itinerary. You’ll also receive a fan every evening, so you know what to expect the next day. It’s a special touch that adds to the overall experience.

The Golden Door focuses on seven-day retreats so you can get the most out of your experience with them. However, three- and five-day retreats are available at various times throughout the year.

Plus, you can book your trip during one of the specialty weeks offered throughout the year. These include women’s week, men’s week, co-ed week, and women’s astrology week.

Conde Nast Traveller rated the Golden Door the number one spa in the world. And Travel + Leisure named it the number one world’s best destination spas,

Getting to the resort

The best way to get to the resort is by flying into the San Diego International Airport. A private shuttle whisks you to and from the resort.

However, if you live in the area, you can drive. Free valet parking is provided.


There are only 40 rooms available at the resort. And the high employee-to-guest ratio allows the resort to meet the needs of every guest in a timely fashion.

All rooms are single occupancy and come with a private garden deck or patio. In addition, each room also features a private bath with a tub and shower, meditation area, and seating area. The Japanese decor adds to the zen-like atmosphere of the resort.

Bath amenities include a terry robe and a generous supply of bath and body items. Plus, guests receive a daily supply of alkaline Carlsbad water.

You also get maid service twice daily.

You can choose from a variety of rooms, each offering a different view and proximity to resort facilities. There is no difference in price for any of the rooms. However, if you want a little more space, the resort has villas available for an extra cost.


No formal restaurants mar he serenity of the Golden Door. However, there is a large dining room for guests to gather for meals and socialization.

Guests feast on three meals a day plus snacks and appetizers. Breakfast is private and served in-room. Lunch is taken by the pool while dinner is in the main dining room.

You can also dine in the privacy of your room rather than join the group for lunch or dinner.

All meals are healthy and feature fresh produce from the resort’s culinary gardens.

Fun facts about the Golden Door

One of the most interesting facts about the resort is that it donates 100 percent of its net profits to various local charities. So, not only does it offer guests a life-changing experience, but it also changes the lives of others.

The resort has been around for 60 years and is credited for spurring today’s $4.2 billion wellness industry.

The Golden Door began as a motel with themed suites.

Elizabeth Taylor, Natalie Wood, and Judy Garland all visited the Golden Door. Other celebrity guests have included Oprah Winfrey and Julia Roberts.

The 2018 Oscar bags included a week-long stay at the famous resort.

Things to See and Do

tall two window

Image via: Flickr

Everything to see and do at The Golden Door is located directly onsite. Since each experience is customized, guests can choose their individual programs and activities.

You can hike on 30 miles of mountain or meadow trails or take a walk through the 2 labyrinths onsite.

In addition, the resort features seven state-of-the-art gyms, two swimming pools, and a therapy pool. Plus, there is a bathhouse, steam room and sauna, and nine body treatment rooms. There’s even a lighted tennis court available to get your game on.

The Golden Door Seven Night Experience

The mainstay of the Golden Door is its seven-night experience which lasts from Sunday to Sunday. Upon arrival, guests receive a welcome package which includes a reusable water bottle, tote bag, journal, and fanny pack. From there, guests begin their journey of self-exploration.

Each day features an array of activities.designed to transform you from the inside out. And while personalization is key to your program, there is a loose structure to the activities.

Day one is pretty much an opportunity to get acclimated to your new surroundings. Day four focuses on healthy eating. All other days feature fitness and relaxation programs with some days featuring evening speakers.

The last day of your stay prepares you to reenter the real world with a shampoo and blow-dry. Plus, you’ll enjoy a celebratory lunch or dinner with your fellow guests and a final walk through the labyrinth. As a special treat, you’ll also get a glass of wine with your dinner, something that usually isn’t allowed during your stay.

Highlights of the 7-day experience

There’s plenty to look forward to during your specialized experience. There are three components to your program: fitness, spa and personal care, and healthy cuisine.

The fitness program includes up to four sessions with a personal trainer. Plus, you can choose from more than 40 fitness classes, including boxing, yoga, or archery.

There are also mindfulness and improvement sessions and evening programs and lectures. You’ll also get a personalized take-home fitness plan at the end of your stay.

The spa and personal care program includes a daily in-room massage, two herbal wraps, five skincare sessions, and one body treatment. You’ll also receive a detailed skin analysis with personalized treatment recommendations. In addition, a manicure and pedicure will complete your overall experience.

Part of the experience at the Golden Door resort is transformation, and healthy eating is an integral part of that change. The healthy cuisine program teaches you how to maintain your new eating habits through nutrition education and cooking classes.

Yoga master rests for a while

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You only need to pack essentials when you visit the Golden Door. The resort provides the rest.

You get workout clothes including t-shirts, shorts, and sandals as well as a kimono to wear to dinner. Plus the resort will provide you with any weather-related gear you may need.

And you won’t need to worry about laundry, either. The Golden Door takes care of it for you.


The 7-day Golden Door experience varies in price depending on what you add. For instance, selecting a villa will increase the cost. Prices for the three- and five-day retreats cost less.

Old man meditating in a retreat house

Image via: flickr

If you’re looking for a retreat that focuses on you, the Golden is the perfect getaway. It may be pricey, but your well-being is the most important investment of your life. And with the number of amenities and amount of personalization you get at the Golden Door, we’d say it’s worth every penny.

Have you been to the Golden Door? Share your experiences below!

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