The Oaks at Ojai is a splendid retreat, an inclusive spa and fitness destination, and an intimate space that lends itself to a variety of getaways. From mother/daughter duos to best friends weekends, and couples, as well as the solo traveler, the resort has a refreshingly cozy, welcoming quality.
A pretty, shaded pool, a strong series of exercise and yoga classes, full meals and snacks, and evening entertainment, keep guests busy – if they want to be. The large, relaxing, Spanish-style rooms and peaceful, tree-lined grounds of the intimate resort are equally enjoyable for simply relaxing. And of course, a full compliment of spa services includes pampering massages, facials, and skincare.
One of the most delightful aspects of our stay were the recently revamped accommodations themselves. Beautiful updating didn’t hide the romantic and artistic 1930s era features of the property.
Original architectural touches such as these alcoves made for a private dressing area, above; historic tile work below remains a part of an otherwise thoroughly modern bathroom.
A favorite feature: colored lights emanated from jacuzzi jets in the tub. A definite ahhh moment.
Bedding is comfortable and rooms quiet: while the spa is nestled in the heart of Ojai’s hip California boutiques, and just a stone’s throw from the terrific art at the eclectic Porch Gallery, the spa has a calm and drowsy vibe making early morning fitness classes easy to attend. Sure, you can go out in the town, visit a wine tasting room, listen to jazz just down the block – but you may prefer to stay in.
The graceful lobby area makes a terrific place to relax and read.
The small gym space is flooded with light.
Yoga, exercise, meditation, and more – the Oaks’ rejuvenation schedule is happening from morning to night in a spacious studio.
We tried Pilates, restorative yoga, and stretching. The weather rained us out of aqua aerobics, but other guests with linger stays swore by the fun. In town strolls and area hikes are also on the schedule. Classes were well run and attended; geared toward both newbies and a moderate level of exercise.
With three meals a day plus tasty snacks such as soup and juice smoothies, guests truly never have to leave the grounds. Options for vegetarian and special food requests are easily accommodated, too.
The spa focuses on meals that are filling yet healthy, keeping calories low and an emphasis on fresh and organic fare. No alcohol is served; but meals are often multiple courses, with salads or soups, entrees, and deserts such as chocolate covered local strawberries.
Our meals included a truly good mushroom barley burger, an amazing green drink featuring pineapple, parsley, coconut, and cucumber, and a well seasoned tofu stir fry.
Spa treatments were lovely and generously timed: it was my boyfriend’s birthday so he received the pampering facial, neck, and hand massage. He loved the experience – and proved that while The Oaks has long been known as a destination for women, it makes a lovely retreat for couples, too.
The spa shop offers the opportunity to purchase the delightful creams and scrubs used in the spa, along with clothing and sundries.
An inclusive and relaxing space, The Oaks has the vibe of a retreat center, and the spirit of renewal in a space homey enough to list classes and meals on daily handouts and serve butter-less popcorn while showing DVDs of recent films after dinner.
Low key is the ultimate accolade here. There’s no pressure to exercise – although there are plenty of classes – or even partake of the spa’s signature services – guests just come to relax and renew even if that means reading a book by the pool.
With reasonable pricing, weekend or week-long stays, and everything but spa services included, this is a chance to get away and maybe leave behind a few extra pounds, too. Or at least the weight of daily stress.
- Genie Davis; photos: Jack Burke