OAKS AT OJAI
GET AWAY AND RECLAIM YOURSELF
In need of a getaway without really getting away, or are you in need of kick starting a healthy regimen to get back on track? You’ll find both retreat and rejuvenation at The Oaks in nearby Ojai—a mere 90-minute drive north of Los Angeles.
Currently celebrating its 35th anniversary, Ojai’s award-winning Oaks is a beloved destination spa in the U.S. where guests come from all over the country to lose a few pounds (or more), kick-start a wellness regimen and enjoy a getaway to cleanse and recharge themselves.
The city of Ojai is known as "The Shangri-La of Southern California,” referring to the similarities between the health-and-spirituality-focused region and the mystical sanctuary of author James Hilton’s novel Lost Horizon.
Founded by internationally known fitness expert, Sheila Cluff, and operated by the Cluff family, The Oaks pioneered the spa destination industry, and is known as one of the only true weight-loss spas in the country where the average guest loses nearly three pounds in five days.
The Oaks mantra is simple: relax, lose weight, and feel great.
According to Sheila Cluff, the best way to approach a change in diet and lifestyle is to “renew your health and fitness vows in a sensible and do-able way.”
“I recommend exercising first thing in the morning,” Cluff explains. “Should you have a long day at the office, final exams, a sick toddler or one of the other million pulls on your time, fitness will be thrown to the wind. Should you have to stay indoors because the weather or air quality isn’t good, turn up the radio or pop in a CD and jog or march in place for 20 minutes. Trust me, you’ll feel this work out.”
It’s that approach and positive attitude that is in the air at The Oaks. The pressure, tension and distractions from our daily lives seem like a million miles away and you can focus on you and your health in a peaceful and non-judging setting. Nestled in a welcoming and comforting environment, the all-encompassing Oaks offers spacious and luxurious guest rooms, delicious cuisine, and a variable plethora of workout classes (in and out of the pool) that are guaranteed to get your motor running at full speed.
As an American Plan Spa, The Oaks provides a well-rounded 1,000+ calorie a day food plan that consists of three meals, snacks and beverages. The varied menus feature natural foods, fresh fish and poultry, locally-grown fruits and vegetables, homemade salad dressings and soups—all without a touch of additional salt or refined sugar used in the preparation.
An example of a typical lunch includes Split Pea Soup, Mushroom Burger, Coleslaw, and Fresh Fruit Sundae; or Tortilla Soup, Chicken Fajitas with sour cream, guacamole, pinto beans, and Mexican Fruit Cup. Dinner can include Mixed Greens, Broiled Salmon, Wild Rice Pilaf, and Pumpkin Cheesecake; as well as, Nest Salad, Broiled Halibut with mango corn salsa, Quinoa Pilaf and asparagus, and Cranberry Apple Crisp. Yum! Vegetarian options are also available. Meal plans are specified for each guest; some people will eat sugar-free, whereas men and others can get Athlete portions to make sure they intake enough calories.
In addition to eating right, guests are encouraged to partake in group fitness activities that are divided between CardioClasses to increase cardiovascular capacity, condition the lungs, and burn fat; Strength Classes to build lean muscle mass and shape the physique; and Flexibility Classes to promote muscular flexibility, range of motion of joints, balance, coordination, and stress relief.
During my recent stay, I reveled in the comfort of a wonderful room (with the biggest closet I’ve ever seen), which was just perfect for relaxing, enjoyed good and healthy food, felt like a king after theraputic massages, and worked out several times a day. While the majority of the guests at The Oaks are women (there was only one other man present during my visit), the workout classes are still challenging as you get out of them what you put into them, from yoga, stretch, and even a boot camp type class. Also, all male guests receive complimentary passes to the nearby Ojai Valley Athletic Club in case you’re looking for a more intense workout.
A popular class at the spa is Aqua Zumba, think Latin dance in the pool. Splashing, stretching, twisting, and even shouting, laughing, hooting and hollering are often heard during an Aqua Zumba class. Integrating the Zumba formula and philosophy with traditional aqua fitness disciplines, the Aqua Zumba class blends it all together into a safe, challenging, water-based workout that’s cardio-conditioning, body-toning, and most of all, exhilarating. Other group activities include hiking, art tours, and in-line skating to rock climbing, guided kayaking tours, belly dancing, yoga ropes, and qi gong. They have it all.
Rates vary, from $200 a night during the week (including all meals designed to promote weight loss) for a standard twin bed, to $319 for a large private room. For those looking to really indulge and get as healthy as possible, a weeklong stay is as low as $1,393, while a 12-consecutive night stay is as low as $2,388. If you don’t have a particular someone to share a double room, the front desk can arrange for you to have a roommate to help keep costs down.
The Oaks offers 46 guest rooms, including private rooms and courtyard suites, double lodge rooms and double cottage rooms. A charming 1920s hotel-turned-spa in the peaceful town of Ojai, The Oaks is a wonderful place to getaway in a stress free setting where you and your health are the priority.
The Oaks is located at 122 East Ojai Avenue in Ojai, CA.
Photos courtesy of: The Oaks