A place that'll make you fit for life.
Do spa and health retreats really do a body good? If you're unsure about the long-term effects of exercising, spa treatments and healthy food, just take a look at Sheila Cluff. Although most women in her generation are retired, she looks and acts half her age, teaches fitness classes, and rejoined the sport of figure skating. Cluff is a walking advertisement for the retreat that she founded and owns: The Oaks at Ojai, located in the cozy art community of Ojai, California. When she converted the original 1920s hotel into this resort in 1977, her vision was to create a place where women of all ages could escape the stress of daily living and take care of themselves without spending a fortune. Her approach to total health is to treat the body and soul, and The Oaks provides activities for both.
The available fitness classes (some of which are taught by Sheila herself) include yoga, morning walks, Tai Chi, and hikes in Ojai’s foothills with a resident outdoors expert. The resort's 1,000-calorie-per-day spa cuisine features filling, surprisingly tasty meals that are low in fat, salt and sugar (be sure to sample the muffins). After guests are sated, they can attend evening programs that serve to fill the mind as well. The Oaks invites authors and experts to lead talks in the areas of fashion, medicine, business and motivational techniques.
Despite many options offered to guests, relaxing at the spa is one of the most popular activities at The Oaks. Treatments include the Anti-Aging Facial, Hot Himalayan Salt Stone Massage, Massage.com (which treats the tension caused by computer use), the Ojai Olive Oil Body Souffle, and the Ultimate Massage Collection, which combines six of the resort’s popular massages in one 75-minute session. The spa is also available to day visitors; the "Day of Pampering" package for non-guests includes lunch, a 50-minute facial, 50-minute massage, haircut or style, and the choice of a mini scalp chair massage or mini pedispa treatment, all for $195.
Although men can be guests at The Oaks, the retreat is really focused on the needs of women, and what keeps these women coming back is the safe, comfortable atmosphere that allows them to bond with one another. One sign of this relaxed ambiance is that guests often come alone, and for single travelers, the resort offers the option of sharing a room with a fellow guest. Many of the women who frequent The Oaks return each year to reunite with fellow guests they met decades ago while sharing a room, sunbathing by the pool, eating communal meals, or taking one of the group fitness classes.
Exercise, relaxation, good food, great massages, and lots of soon-to-be friends…who knew that staying healthy could be so easy and so fun?