In Ojai, 65 miles north of Los Angeles, I discovered wonderful ways to rejuvenate my mind, body and spirit. It's easy to relax the moment I entered this small valley, surrounded by mountains and filled with orange groves. World-renowned spas are a key part of Ojai life, offering a diet of fitness, pampering, and delicious healthful food. "Spiritual leaders and seekers have come to this peaceful valley from around the world to pursue mystical and sacred studies," says Janis Flippen, who introduced me to the Ojai experience.
At two top destination spas, Ojai visitors can improve their fitness, indulge themselves in revitalizing treatments, and enjoy tasty, healthy cuisine.
The Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, acclaimed for its Spanish-style architecture, oak-studded golf course, and luxurious amenities, has a own “spa village.” A courtyard with a tiled fountain leads to the mind-body studio, where classes include Pilates, spinning and yoga. Nearby is the spa swimming pool and the stunning spa itself, built in Andalusian style with thick white walls, a tower, and 31,000 square feet of space containing 28 rooms for a full menu of massage and beauty treatments. Featured is the Kuyam, where small groups relax in a colorful tiled room that resembles a Moorish bathhouse and enjoy the healing effects of desert clay, dry heat and guided meditation. At the spa’s “Artist’s Cottage,” local talents assist guests in creative pursuits including oil painting and jewelry making. This is my favorite spot in the spa.
The Oaks at Ojai -- founded by fitness pioneer Sheila Cluff as the original 1970s “fat farm” -- has grown into an award-winning spa focused on healthy weight loss and wellness. All-inclusive programs provide accommodations, three spa-cuisine meals daily, access to a swimming pool, sauna, and fitness equipment, and a choice of energizing classes, hikes and evening talks. One of the signature spa treatments is the Olive Oil Body Souffle, a 75-minute session that uses locally grown olive oil from the Ojai Olive Oil Company.
Day spas include the Day Spa of Ojai, which occupies a historic stone house, and Shangri-La Paradise, a private retreat and healing center set in lush tropical gardens of bamboo and jasmine. The historic Lavender Inn provides a serene setting for a spa treatment.
Besides spa & health resorts, Ojai also houses a number of charming inns making for memorable overnight getaway. The Lavender Inn Bed & Breakfast, inviting Su Nido and the peaceful oasis of the Emerald Iguana Inn are located in downtown Ojai.