Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wanna Escape from Dodge? Hide out at The Oaks at Ojai.

By Laura Medina
122 E. Ojai Avenue Ojai, CA, USA 93023  

Do the shallow, superficial, stupid people of Hollywood poison the common sense out of  your life?

The materialistic, business-mentality of Manhattan pushing you to the breaking point?

The Oaks at Ojai is here to the rescue, re-calibrating your scales, balancing your perspective.

Located in the heart of downtown Ojai, one of the noticed spiritual "vortexes" (other than Taos, New Mexico), The Oaks has in been business of "detoxifying" and helping people gradually lose weight while re-gaining their center since 1977.

Unlike Hollywood, which wouldn't admit its age until it's too late, Ojai is proud of its historical roots.  Its Western/cowboy and cowgirl roots.  Its welcoming artist community, and Its Mediterranean soil and climate which produces artisan wines and accompanying gourmet cuisine, marking it as the Southern tip of "Wine Country."

The Oaks' owner, Sheila Cluff, a former professional ice skater and her husband, took over the historical 1899 ranch hotel, in the heart of Ojai in 1977, then transformed it into a pioneering health and wellness retreat, one of the first retreats to blend fitness with spa treatments and also one of the first advocates of "Spa Cuisine."  The yummy but light cuisine that promotes healthy, sustainable meals and ingredients, that went from mere weight loss to a lifestyle to a permanent fixture in the frozen supermarket aisle.

Of course, after a long, dusty drive or a long plane trip, you want to check into your room.

What a room!  First, you're led to a gate through the pool then you walk into your own sanctuary, a front patio and a porch.  The first patio has two deck chairs then you walk up to the front door and a front porch of a table with a couple of chair and mini bubbling fountain greets you.  The front patio and the front porch is hidden enough to shut off the external noise from downtown Ojai and the poolside guests yet welcoming enough to invite some really close friends or your "spa clique" for a close get-together for your own intimate "porch party."

As soon as you unlock the door, you walked into a cozy but spacious living room with a mini bar, closet, couch, a chair, hidden tv, a fireplace, and working nook tucked into the corner.

The cottage/bungalow-like "Double Courtyard Suites," on the grounds of The Oaks are like Dr. Who's Tardis, they appear small on the outside but they're pleasantly startling large and roomy inside.  Don't let looks fool you, this scribe was happily fooled.

This girly-woman scribe was reassured there's vanity table with a magnifying makeup mirror and built-in blow-dryer tucked into one corner for grooming and a separated "business" table tucked into the opposite corner where you jot your thoughts in a journal or take the slow time to actually hand-write a postcard or a note to friends and family...if you want to.

The Oaks at Ojai is really big on "Mother & Daughter" Me time, offering several specials through-out the year.  This is why the bedroom has two queen-sized beds and...

two closets.

They also have console tv with a safe. For a lone scribe on a tranquil day, this layout is very deluxe yet cozy.

Inside the two bathroom sink bathroom, everything was neatly laid out for a couple, any type of couple.

The shower is separated from the jacuzzi-bathtub and the toilet is in the water closet, making the bathroom functional for a couple or luxurious for a loner who wants to escape from other people's "noise."

The three square "Spa Cuisine" meals (they're already pre-planed for you) and in-between snacks and yummy teas are already included in your healthy get-away stay, as well as the 15 different fitness and activity classes, the Health Center Technician, and the use of Resort Facilities: Swimming Pool, Saunas and Hot Tub, Weight Training and Cardiovascular Equipment.  These are the basics to detox and cleanse.

Since this scribe all but had one day to fully enjoy The Oaks at Ojai, this scribe decided to spring for a Skin Authority Fit & Firm Vitad Fortified Lifting Facial, a pedicure spa for weary toes, and Acupressure Massage for Metabolism.  Yep, you heard this scribe right-a massage to increase your metabolism.

After having the toes scrubbed and buffed, this scribe received a sun-kissed "California" glowing complexion without the sun damage, thanks to the Skin Authority Fit & Firm Vitad Fortified Lifting Facial where your face is resurfaced with sugar cane AHA acids to clean out the grout from too much driving and too much pollution.  Once you're slathered in Vitamin D and blue-green algae extract mask, that is the perfect time to nap.  You wouldn't notice the hand and arm massages.  Having the mask peeled off your face is like having a fruit roll-up peeled off your face, a pampering wake-up call to the facial therapist dotting Skin Growth Factors Fit & Firm Eye Lift Treatment and a gently circling Wrinkle Reversing Serum and Moisturizing Lift Cream for a "glow."

If you're gonna to stay an extra day or days, you'll have time to join and burn calories at the numerous 15 fitness activities from the 8am morning pool aerobics to the popular hiking trails.

While driving Route 33 up to Ojai, this scribe was gee-gawking at the horses.  Most people have dogs in the front yard.  In Ojai, they have horses and ponies in the front yard.  That's it!  This scribe was to be a week-end Cowgirl!

If the scribe has her way, she'll spend one more day horse-back riding offered by several trail-riding companies dotted around the Ojai Valley.  The Oaks' front desk can recommend several outfits to pick from.  She'll do this the first day, the day before the pampering.

If you're too busy having fun hiking and riding the trails that you missed out on the scheduled pre-planned meals, there are several vineyards and restaurants that offer "Wine Country" cuisine to fill you up.

Once this scribe is done with her "fantasy trail-riding,"  She can book the facial after getting dirty horse-back riding then do the massages after dinner.  The Oaks offers night-time massages and aromatherapy massages, the last booking at 9pm, right before bedtime. 

To "unknot" the sore muscles, this scribe tried Acupressure for Massage for Metabolism, rising one's metabolism while relaxing, sounds intriguing to this scribe.

Acupressure is like acupuncture without the needles.  Good for "needle babies" like this scribe.  Instead of inserting needles into the pressure points, the massage therapist poke and kneed the press points to aid digestion.  That's how your metabolism is gently and naturally affected.

This is a great to dope out after a long, busy day.

If The Oaks' prescribed 1,200 calories a day square meals leave you hungry for more or if your idea of "contraband," is cookies and milk,  the Westridge Midtown Market is conveniently located across the street.

If anyone asks this scribe what Ojai is all about, the response would be "gourmet Cowboy or Cowgirl."  Sure, the surrounding may be rustic and down-to-earth but the growing climate blessed this region with wine and as the country's top supplier of beef, lamb, cheese, and produce where locals are bred with a gourmet taste.

At Westridge Midtown Market, your "guilty treats" are drinkable fruity, balsamic vinegar aperitif, retro sodas, imported cookies, and healthy chips, good enough for you sneak back into your room.

Since Ojai is noted as one of several spiritual "vortexes" and The Oaks at Ojai is located smack dabbed in the middle of town, you can easily walk across the street, in all three points, to the Ojai Library, the Museum, and Main Street ice parlor and boutiques, bursting with local art work and handcrafted souvenirs, to really get to know a different type of Californian culture, an antidote to "Hollywood."

The Oaks at Ojai are accustomed to Angeleno day-trippers and weekend-Cowboys and Cowgirls, seeking to recharge and to re-balance.

At the Oaks' boutique, "The Nest," you can buy the cookbooks, pretty obvious.  

The less obvious, but way cooler, are the one-of-a-kind sweet fruit balsamic vinegars like Blueberry and Cinnamon-Pear and the equally fruity Orange Olive Oil, great replacements for the usual suspects of caramel sauces and butter (try replacing butter with fruity olive oil for a moist and dense cake) or you can walk away with their recipes,

If the guests can incorporate the little lifestyle lessons taught at The Oaks, your retreat stay will adjust your way of thinking.  Whether it's permanent weight-loss as lifestyle or a new hobby or a new dimension in life, The Oaks at Ojai will change your point-of-view on California.  There's more to the state than L.A.

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