Travelogue: The Oaks at Ojai

The Oaks at Ojai

The Oaks at Ojai

Ojai, a sleepy agricultural town nestled in a valley in Ventura County, Calif., has become one of my favorite local getaways. There’s an overall feeling of community with an emphasis on small, local businesses that makes you feel warm and fuzzy. And no place does that better than The Oaks at Ojai, an all-inclusive wellness spa situated right in the middle of downtown.

The Oaks offers traditional spa amenities along with fitness classes, meals, wellness activities and overnight accommodations all for one incredibly reasonable price (rates start at $199 per person per night, but you may have to share a room). As the focus is on wellness here, your daily caloric intake is limited to 1,000 calories a day via three meals, snacks and beverages. Chef Christine Denney creates high-fiber, no-sugar and no-salt menus that will help you lose weight and generally feel better.

I was invited to give The Oaks a try, and while I was apprehensive at first — just 1,000 calories a day?! — I ended up enjoying myself more than I thought I would. Denney’s food was thoughtfully prepared, and I really liked her chocolate mouse made with silken tofu. But the lack of salt got me. Even though you’re given vinegar and herbs as condiments with your meals, I couldn’t get over the no-salt rule. But other guests didn’t seem to mind, so that’s just my personal preference.

Chef Christine Denney gives a cooking demonstration

Chef Christine Denney gives a cooking demonstration

Chocolate mousse

Chocolate tofu mousse, strawberries with mango mint coulis

Enchiladas

Enchiladas

My room, a Mini Spa Suite complete with a private patio, sitting room and spa bathtub, was lovely. The spa has a generally casual vibe, and my suite reflected that — it wasn’t luxe, but it was nice and comfortable. And having the spa tub was a nice plus!

Private patio of Mini Spa Suite

Private patio of Mini Spa Suite

Pretty front door and fountain

Pretty front door and fountain

Living room

Living room

Bedroom

Bedroom

Spa tub

Spa tub

The Oaks offers a bunch of exercise classes daily, including workouts in the pool, yoga, pilates, dance and more. There are even off-site hikes and bike rides available. Some of the upcoming workout specials include Water Week from Oct. 6 to 14, when additional pool classes will be added each day. Water workouts are ideal for people who need low-impact exercise, and since I have a bad knee, I was excited to see these on the schedule. From Oct. 22 to 27, The Oaks will offer Yoga FORE Golf, a specialized yoga class designed to enhance your golf game. And from Oct. 27 to 30, the resort will take part in the International Ojai Yoga Crib, an annual yoga pilgrimage celebrating its 10th year that features classes in some of the most historically significant and sacred spots throughout the Ojai Valley.

If you’re in Ojai on a Sunday morning, make sure to stop by the Ojai Certified Farmers Market, located just one block north of Ojai Avenue on Matilija Street. While there aren’t a lot of prepared foods, the produce is amazing. I picked up some beautiful (and delicious) heirloom tomatoes, basil, culinary lavender and even some homemade natural dog treats. There was even a bluegrass band for your shopping entertainment.

Eggplant at Ojai Certified Farmers Market

Eggplant at Ojai Certified Farmers Market

All in all, my trip to The Oaks was relaxing and fun. While I was one of the youngest people there, my fellow spa goers made me feel welcome, and I struck up some interesting conversations with women of all ages. Most of the guests I saw were women, but there were some men, too. The Oaks even offers a mother-daughter (or son!) discount. Staying here would be a great way to spend some quality with friends, relatives or just with yourself. After all, everyone needs some R&R once in a while.

Note: This stay was hosted.

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Maya Meinert

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09 2012

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