Nestled in the Ojai Valley, amidst huge, mature oak trees and the Topa mountains, The Ojai Valley Inn and Spa is a feast of nature, historic architectural beauty in California.
Two hundred and twenty acres of sheer stillness set within down-to-earth surrounds. I was welcomed at the new lobby which was brimming with friendly smiles and then whisked off in a golf cart by a staff member who expertly gave me the low down on the Inn’s exquisite surroundings, winding paths and historic Spanish colonial buildings.
He then delivered me to my stunning villa, beautifully decorated with a Moorish flair – four poster bed, fireplaces in each room and stunningly huge bath with just the right amount of lavender salts always at the ready. Outside was a spacious patio with huge orange pillows atop built-in surround seating, wicker loungers and a fire pit to boot.
It was a chore to remove myself from the accommodation, although what was waiting beyond the grassy knolls was even more scrumptious. A full program of Mind/Body classes for adults including yoga and t’ai chi, as well as nature hikes, garden tours and walking meditation in the garden labyrinth. At the spa’s Art Studio, classes in herbal wreath making complement a year-round schedule of painting and drawing classes taught by Spa Ojai’s artists-in-residence.
As I entered the courtyard that led to the spa, the sound of fountains and the poetic loggias seemed to create a sense of timelessness for all who were sitting underneath umbrellas, sampling heavenly delights from the Café at the Spa. My feeling of decompression from the city concerns was only heightened as I walked into the lounge area with comfy sofas, newspapers and magazines to read (or to ignore) and three smiling staff members ready to usher me into the inner sanctum.
An endless choice of delights to soothe any soul was waiting within the Inn’s spa. I chose the spa’s signature Ojai Stone massage which used stones of all shapes and sizes and of varying temperatures to elicit physical healing, mental relaxation, and a spiritual connection to the earth’s energy. Although perhaps the most unique treat on offer at the Inn’s spa is the “Kuyam” – the only treatment of this type in the United States.
“Kuyam” (koo-yahm), a Chumash Indian word, meaning “a place to rest together” is a sacred tradition of the Chumash Indians, the first inhabitants of the Ojai Valley. From the design and décor of the Kuyam chamber to the use of healing clays and the sharing of a communal experience, the Kuyam is a truly unique experience where one can soak up the essence of an ancient healing tradition.
Once all manner of oil and clay were removed from my rejuvenated body, I was off to sample the locally grown ingredients at the Oak Grill (one of four new dining options at the Spa). Whether it was the freshness of the herbs grown in the Inn’s gardens or the (relatively) local salmon, the particular talents of the chef, or a combination of all three – dinner was divine, and the service – a serious practice of attendance. Over the course of the next 18 hours, The Café at the Spa, and the American Grill with their individual patio dining experiences were to be equally pleasing (albeit atmospherically different) experiences.
An extraordinarily comfortable sleep was followed by breakfast in my villa. The heat of the food did not hold over its golf-cart ride from the restaurant – but having pancakes and cappuccino on the patio, as the sun shone down on my back hailing yet another day of luxury at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa, I wasn't about to complain.
Nothing could shake off the excitement of the yoga class and contemplation of life by the exquisite swimming pool that awaited me. Finally, if not already spoiled by the copious amounts of activity and luxury, I was sent off on a horseback ride to explore the magnificent sprawling acres surrounding the Inn – some of the most breathtaking views in the valley. I did not mind the possibility of an aching bottom from my final activity, as it offered the perfect excuse for one last foray into the Spa’s glorious whirlpool, sauna and steam room.