Ojai, located in a valley east of Santa Barbara in Ventura County, is a hidden gem with an energy of healing, wellness and spirituality. The town is immersed in art and nature. It is the perfect place to get away for some self-care and relaxation. The Oaks at Ojai is right in the center of town, a charming 1920’s hotel and spa founded in 1977 by Sheila Cluff.
Cluff is known as the “grandmother of aerobics,” so it is no surprise that stays at Oaks include 15 optional fitness activities such as yoga, hikes and water aerobics. Guests enjoy healthy meals and enrichment programs like cooking demos and lectures. The retreat offers access to a swimming pool, sauna, eucalyptus steam room and hot tubs. It’s like a wonderful summer camp for health-conscious adults without the camping!
I had the chance to experience a night at The Oaks at Ojai to celebrate the beginning of fall and enjoy the changing of the seasons. I arrived in Ojai and was greeted by the friendly staff. After checking in, I realized I had a little time to walk around before my Oaks orientation. I decided to explore the surroundings and found that Oaks was in walking distance from many interesting destinations. I stopped by Bart’s Books, a unique outdoor bookstore and picked up a book. I also found that the town is immersed in art. I wandered into The Porch Gallery for a look at The Neon Queen exhibition and learned about talented local artists from Porch Co-Director Lisa Casoni. Before long, it was time to head back.
Rachel, our orientation host, offered insight into all of the opportunities at the property. Some of the activities happening during my stay included a movie night, hiking, meditation, water aerobics and a brisk walk. She also pointed out the artwork by local artists on the walls of the property. Of course, I was eager to check out the spa and experience one of The Oaks at Ojai’s famous treatments.
The dinner was healthy yet satisfying, and I was joined by another guest at the hotel, an actress and writer who has been returning to The Oaks at Ojai for years. One of the things I discovered about Oaks at Ojai was how many guests return year after year. Repeat guests make up more than 50% of Oaks customers!
After dinner, I headed to the spa lounge and was greeted by my esthetician for a Skin Authority Facial. I opted for the Restorative Hydration Facial, a treatment that provides a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to gently repair and renew. A hand and foot massage, included with the service, was a nice surprise for an extra dose of relaxation. I left my service glowing and ready to melt into the couch to enjoy my book.
I planned to wake up early for the 6:30 am hike, but sleep was calling me for another half hour and I made it to the brisk group walk at 7 am. Our walk brought us to a beautiful view from a golf course and ended with some light stretching. Next, options included a meditation and then lively water aerobics. I quickly stopped by the local farmers market, also within walking distance, before heading on my way. There are so many activities to take advantage of at The Oaks at Ojai that I would highly recommend staying for a few days. In fact, I’m already looking forward to becoming one of those repeat guests and hope to book a longer trip in the near future!
For more information about The Oaks at Ojai, visit oaksspa.com.
– by Lizzy Sherman