Peachhead™ Approved Vacations: Ojai - Ojai Vally Inn and Spa
Where does one go if they want to get away with their family...or with their friends...or with their partner????
Ojai Valley Inn and Spa caters to all three.
July 2007 I recently took Amber and Jasmine there for a quick, little get away. The drive up from L.A. was beautiful and when we arrived on the property, the view was breathtaking. The greenery and flowers are spectacular. Everywhere you turned, it was a "Kodak Moment". The property is so lush and peaceful, which is just the way to start your vacation.
The kids started off by going to the kids camp while I went for a spa treatment. They loved it. In the morning the kids are taken to the ranch where there is a petting farm and pony rides for them. In the afternoon, the kids are back on the property where they do arts & crafts and can enjoy the resort's inflatable water slide.
On days when your kids are not in the kids' camp, there are bicycles for them to ride (including bikes with training wheels). Ryan at the golf shop was very sweet in helping us adjust the seats and fitting my kids with the correct helmets. My kids also loved hitting golf balls at the driving range and attempting to get the ball in the hole on the putting green.
The resort has three separate pools. There is one large pool that is family friendly and even includes a wading pool for the little ones. On Saturday night they had a "dive in" movie, where the kids all hung out in the pool in inner tubes and watched Flushed Away. They had popcorn for the kids and drinks for the adults. It was heartwarming to see so many kids and adults hanging out together on a Saturday night enjoying themselves.
There is also an artist cottage where you can take classes with or without your kids. I signed up to take a Mandala class. I don't consider myself an artsy person (in fact I still draw stick figures) but somehow sitting in that cottage looking out at the incredible scenery, my artist's senses were inspired, and I made an incredible Mandala piece. Upon completing my work, Renate, the art instructor, then interpreted it for me (similar to a palm reading). She analyzed my work by the color of the paper I chose, the colors I used to draw different items, and the number of lines I used to draw something. It was quite a unique experience. After having this experience for myself, I wanted to share in it with my girls so we took a watercolor class together. What a wonderful mother/daughter bonding experience. We had a wonderful time working on our artwork together. It was great watching their excitement as they came up with new ideas for their piece and it was beautiful to sit in the cottage and have this incredible view that inspires you.
I also took a class on apothecary and created my own essential oils. Alex, the instructor, was very informative. I never knew what went into making essential oils. I felt as if I was taking a wine tasting class the way they described the different smells and colors of the various oils.
Now if you want to escape the kids and spend your time relaxing at the spa, I highly recommend the Shangri-La treatment which is an amazing body scrub treatment and more. There were a number of different processes done to give me a full body cleansing experience After each process I was able to rinse off in the private shower that was located in my treatment room. I felt completely relaxed and rejuvinated after my treatment.
I also experienced the Lillian Terry massage. My massage therapist was Beatrice, who was absolutely amazing. You let her know which areas of your body are most stressed and they choose the oils dedicated to relieving the tension in that specific area of your body. While working on certain areas of my body, she placed warm towels on the other parts. I was so relaxed after my treatment that I went straight out to the Leisure Pool (which is the adults only pool at the spa) and continued to float in my relaxing state.
The spa is very nice. They have separate rooms to relax in with a fireplace. The woman's side has the steam, suana, and jacuzzi as well as an outdoor jacuzzi where you can sit in the lounge chair or jacuzzi and bask in the warm sun. The showers are nice-sized, with each having its own stock of towels and amenities.
The work out room has all new, state-of-the-art equipment. Each cardio machine has an individual tv. They provide bottled water, towels, and headphones. There was always a staff member in the work out room to educate you on the equipment if you needed it. They actually have this new machine I had never seen before called the Wave. It is similar to a stairmaster, but your legs move sideways as if you are rollerblading. It was a great workout.
If you prefer taking classes, they have a Mind/Body Gym which has classes ranging from yoga to spinning to mediation. They even have nature hikes and morning walks.
The restaurants on the property are delicous. We ate at the Oak Cafe mostly. On the weekends they have a nice breakfast buffet. The dinners are lovely as they have outdoor dining overlooking the golf course. I loved the fire roasted artichoke with garlic rosemary Aioli and their Filet Mignon was incredibly tender. Even though they have a children's menu, Amber couldn't stop asking for bites of my filet (it was that good). (My girlfriend was there this week with her family and she said the Shrimp ceviche was so good they ordered it 2 nights in a row...I will have to try that next time).
Jimmy's is a great place to get wood burning pizza for the kids. They also have a great variety of beer on tap. This was also the place that had Amber and Jasmine's favorite desert: A cast iron warm chocolate chip cookie with ice cream...served warm of course.
The Cafe at the Spa has healthy food choices, salads, wraps, and smoothies. I enjoyed my caeser salad poolside. The Swim Club at the family pool has a great adult menu as well as a separate kids menu.
If you want to have the dining experience of a lifetime (sorry no kids allowed), make a reservation at Maravilla in advance and ask to be seated on the outdoor patio. Going to a restaurant like Maravilla is not simply going to dinner, it is taking a magical journey into the culinary world. When we first arrived at the restaurant, we were met by Brian, the "mixologist" or "spirits chef". To see someone take such pride in their creations is pure joy. A drink is not just a drink when made by someone like Brian. Watching him cut up fresh fruit, mix ingredients, smell the drink, add some more ingredients, smell again, was an art in itself.
Once we were seated, we were met by William Cory. Right away I knew we were in expert hands. I could honestly listen to William describe the menu all night long. He is so poetic when he describes the menu items you can actually begin to taste the food he is describing. (If you are not able to get William as your server, at least introduce yourself to him and ask him to describe one of the items on the menu, you will understand what I am talking about once he does). The dishes William described far surpassed my wildest dreams. Every bite of every dish was mouthwatering. From the Seared Somonoma Foie Gras and the Mano de Leon Scallop appetizers, the Lobster Three Ways and the New York Steak. Every dish was so unique in its taste, display, and texture.
Jon the sommelier was wonderful as well. Not only educating us on wines but on Ojai and the different type of sommeliers and their education and testing. When we finished our wonderful meal and thought we did not have room for another bite, William brought us the desert menu. What a clever and fun way to order dessert (by being told only the main ingredients of the dessert, but not the form it will arrive in). We were pleasantly surprised and somehow found room in our stomaches for these very unique and special treats.
The service was impeccable. From William approaching us at the table, introducing himself and announcing "You are in my care tonight" to each time they cleared our table they would first ask "Are you finished enjoying?" This dining experience is one I will always remember as an incredible evening of great ambiance, delectable foods, and incredible service.
The resort prides itself on extraordinary customer service. Here are just a few examples of how they go the extra mile for their guests:
When you have a spa treatment or have a session in the artist cottage, they have a little plaque with your name inscribed on it.
One night at dinner Amber was cold (I know hard to believe when it is this warm in July) and I asked if they had a napkin or table cloth that Amber could wrap around her...they brought her a blanket.
I ordered my chocolate raspberry martini and the Oak Cafe did not have white godiva liquor so they went to the restaurant next door to get me some.
The girls wanted their warm chocolate chip cookie from Jimmy's while dining at the Oak Cafe so they ordered it for them and brought it to our table.
One morning I ordered breakfast and asked that it be delivered between 8:00 and 8:15, they called at exactly 8:15 to say they were running a little behind and would be there in 6 minutes.
Jasmine had trouble riding her bike up the hill so one of the staff members put Jasmine and her bike on the golf cart and met us at the top of the hill.
They have an umbrella in the room in case you get caught in the rain.
A few days after we returned home, my girls received a card from the counselors at the kids camp thanking them for spending time at the camp with them.
Everyone at the resort, from the employees to the guests are as warm and welcoming as can be. I met so many wonderful people on this vacation and I can't wait to return. They have summer specials and once you are a guest, they will send you e-mails on specials for their returning guests. My friend just got an e-mail for 40% off the rack rate, so they decided to take a last minute trip to Ojai.
We were sad to have to leave, but I can honestly say this was one of my most relaxing, fulfilling, satisfying, educational, mind expanding, mother/daughter bonding vacations I have been on. I am reading a book called Eat, Pray, Love and they talk about how one word is used to describe different cities. I was thinking about how I could best describe this resort. My first word would be heaven, but the one that best describes the way it makes me feel is "floating". I just feel so happy here. Everything is so beautiful and peaceful.