Growing up in Southern California, there are some iconic places that you continuously hear your friends buzzing about and The Oaks at Ojai is one of those places. When I was in college, my roommate and her mother were frequent patrons of The Oaks, which she raved about as being down-to-earth, grounding and transformative (not-to-mention their addictive low calorie muffins that she brought back by the dozens to share with us), so for almost thirty years I’ve wanted to go there but never had the opportunity until recently.
The Oaks invited me and my blogging bestie Stacy Cox, to enjoy two nights at this health and wellness destination spa and we jumped at the chance
The Oaks at Ojai is an intimate, down-to-earth, affordable all-inclusive health and wellness retreat located in the beautiful and quaint, peaceful artisanal town of Ojai. There are so many things that make The Oaks special, but at the top of the list is the fact that in comparison to most wellness vacations around the country, The Oaks is an incredible value averaging $250-$400/night double occupancy. And for that reasonable nightly rate, you get so many amenities which include: comfortable and well appointed accommodations, 15 optional daily fitness activities like guided mountain hikes, curated walks and strolls, aquatic workouts and yoga classes, three delicious healthy and calorie conscious spa cuisine meals, snacks and beverages, swimming pool/sauna/eucalyptus steam room/hot tubs, evening programs like cooking demos, health oriented lectures and stimulating and informative evening programs. Incredible!
The essence and philosophy of The Oaks is brought to life when you meet the spry, vibrant, effervescent almost 80 years young Sheila Cluff, founder of The Oaks (who can run circles around me doing push-ups!) The pioneering Cluff opened this well-known destination health spa more than thirty five years ago, and when you meet her it will come as no surprise that she rejected the idea of subjecting guests to torturous deprivation as a means of getting healthy. Instead, as she puts it, “I wanted neither a fat farm nor a beauty spa, but rather a place that focused on health and fitness, where people would come to enjoy themselves, not be ‘punished’ with exercise and awful diet food.” Amen to that sista! And The Oaks continues to deliver on this promise all these years later, offering inspiring fitness classes and wellness opportunities and serving food that tastes good yet still amuses the palate. So I’m delighted to recap the highlights of my recent stay at The Oaks and share them with you below
Right when I walked through the doors of The Oaks, I immediately felt the laid back, welcoming unpretentious vibe and felt instantly relaxed and at home. It’s the kind of place you want to stay at for a while because it’s so serene and calming. When we checked-in, we were warmly welcomed and fully briefed on all that the amenities that the resort has to offer, along with a personal schedule and journal so that you can plan (or not) your entire visit and make the most of all that they offer
As they escorted us to our room, I absorbed the beautiful SoCal grounds, the landscape and Spanish/Mediterranean Architecture and liked it even more. I LOVED the canopy over the pool so that you can enjoy the water without the sun’s harmful rays beating down on you and those majestic palm trees *swoon*!
Our room was comfy and spacious and I adored our private patio with a fountain and lush greenery. It felt so serene, remote and like the perfect abode for our girls getaway
After were settled in, we wanted to organize our schedule for our stay and at the top of both mine and Stacy’s lists was signing up for the early morning (6:30am!) hikes and I’m so NOT a morning person, but let me tell you that the Ojai Valley is so incredibly beautiful and unique, it was more than worth giving up my beauty rest for! Seeing the spectacular sunrises, unique plants, vibrant flowers and gorgeous Ojai landscape was such a treat and truly magnificent! Not to mention, that these hikes (1.5 – 2+ hours) give you an amazing and gratifying workout. Take a gander at all the natural beauty we had the pleasure of witnessing on our hikes
Being a foodie who struggles with getting her eating on track, another highlight of The Oaks for me was the nutritious, healthy, tasty, locally sourced calorie conscious food. Each morning after our hike, we enjoyed one of their coveted Oaks Muffins of the Day (boy were they tasty & satisfying!) along with a house made fruit juice sweetened jam, fresh fruit, hard boiled eggs and oatmeal if we wanted. Lots of protein and fiber going on at the morning meals to satiate us post hike
The Oaks knows (as we all should 😉 ) that the healthiest way to eat is by having small balanced meals and snacks every two hours, so everyday two hours after breakfast they provided a homemade High Potassium Vegetable Broth to sustain our energy and keep our bodies going. Cheers to that!
Lunches at The Oaks typically consist of a homemade soup, entree salad and fresh fruit. My favorite lunch during our stay was our al fresco Mexican lunch which included a Tortilla Soup and a Ground Turkey Tostada with a Black Bean Salad and salsa, yum!!
I also really enjoyed our afternoon raw fresh veggie and trio of dips break, this has always been one of favorite snacks and The Oaks does it right
My favorite dinner during our stay was the tasty Asian inspired meal with a refreshing cucumber salad, grilled chicken with peanut sauce, black rice and bok choy and a lemon pineapple supreme for dessert. My foodie palate was happily amused with these bold flavors.
In addition to the fab hikes, The Oaks also offers many other fitness classes on site. I took advantage of their yoga and pilates classes, the cardio circuit, the belly dancing and the aqua tone class. There were so many great options it was hard to choose, and it also worth mentioning that most of the classes are geared towards people who do moderate exercise, so no need to feel intimidated here!
Showing off my new yoga outfit among the lush beautiful surroundings at The Oaks
Striking a pose by the beautiful pool
Like all the best spas and resorts, The Oaks offers a plethora of spa treatments for their guests to enjoy too like facials, massages and body treatments but this skincare junkie chose a facial. I had the pleasure of experiencing the Skin Authority Fit & Firm VitAD Fortified Lifting Facial
Skin Authority is known for creating state of the art skincare products designed with the latest in bio-technology to transform your skin. My vitamin-infused facial included a sugar cane AHA resurfacing treatment, followed by an infusion of a hydrating Vitamin D and blue-green algae mask to lift and boost my skin and ended with a cocktail of Skin Authority products lift, brighten and rejuvenate my skin. And Skin Authority was kind enough to send me some of the products recommended for my skin type to use at home in order to maintain this beautiful glow. Here’s what my skin looked like after, what’d you think?
Another thing that I totally loved about The Oaks was capturing glimpses of inspirational messages sprinkled throughout the resort to motivate and elevate mood like these
Another highlight of The Oaks worth mentioning is the nightly classes that they offered to stimulate your mind. I took one on the art of journaling as well as a class about how to realistically integrate healthy habits at home. I also loved how the resort is within stumbling distance to the heart of downtown Ojai, which you could easily walk to and explore the local shops and art galleries. Here’s a glimpse of some of the cool and unique creations that I saw one evening while strolling the main street in Ojai
One other special thing about The Oaks that I wanted to mention before I end this blog post is the people. The Oaks attracts a diverse cross section of guests from near and far and old and young which leads to wonderful and unlikely connections. Stacy and I were fortunate enough to make a dear and treasured friend while we were at The Oaks and it turns out she lives right near us. Evie is older than us in years but not in attitude and we frequently get together with her for inspired conversation, a healthy meal and occasionally some local theater. She is an amazing woman and I am grateful to The Oaks for bringing us together!
Needless to say, Stacy and I had a phenomenal three full days and two nights at The Oaks at Ojai and as you can see by our faces below we embraced every moment and left there feeling inspired, relaxed and healthier. Whether you are based in SoCal or anywhere throughout the country, I cannot recommend The Oaks at Ojai highly enough, it truly is an amazing special place that will transform you in more ways than one. Whether you are looking to escape, reboot your health and fitness, or spend quality time with your bestie, The Oaks has something for everyone at an affordable price.
Basking in the afterglow of our Oaks experience and rocking our Goddess Crowns
Disclosure: The Oaks invited me to experience a two night stay which includes all meals, fitness activities, classes plus a spa treatment. All opinions and post spa glow are my own