Hotel Review: The Oaks at Ojai

Hotel Review: The Oaks at Ojai

At The Oaks at Ojai, health and wellness happens on property and when you return home By: Julee Binder Shapiro
<p>The Oaks at Ojai in Ojai, Calif., offers at least 16 fitness classes for guests to choose from each day. // © 2015 Julee Binder...

The Oaks at Ojai in Ojai, Calif., offers at least 16 fitness classes for guests to choose from each day. // © 2015 Julee Binder Shapiro

Feature image (above): The spa resort now offers skincare benefits that last even after checkout. // © 2015 Julee Binder Shapiro 

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The Details

The Oaks at Ojai

The Oaks at Ojai, the legendary spa resort in Ojai, Calif., has been offering guests a health and wellness respite complete with meals, a full slate of fitness classes and nutritional guidance for more than 30 years. Now, The Oaks is providing the same kind of attention to guests’ skincare as well, with benefits extending past the end of the vacation.

The Oaks has partnered with Skin Authority to offer a unique facial experience for its spa guests. Every Skin Authority “Fit and Firm Treatment” utilizes Skin Authority products carefully selected for the client’s individual needs. Treatments are targeted for immediate, visible results as well as relaxation. 

But the pampering doesn’t end with the spa treatment. Instead of sending clients on their way with a list of product recommendations, each Skin Authority treatment includes a personalized consultation with home-care recommendations and then free access to a Skin Authority coach for guidance and tips to keep the results going once the client returns home. A few weeks after a recent visit, the products I selected were sent to me, and I received an email from a skin care coach. The coach provided guidance on when and how to use each product, as well as information on what kinds of results I might see. After a few weeks using the products, the coach checked in again to see if I had questions. 

“Living a healthy lifestyle shouldn’t end when you leave the property,” said Cathy Cluff, president and CEO of The Oaks at Ojai. “Specially trained and certified Skin Authority professionals are available to answer questions, provide expert guidance and make on-going suggestions as your needs change. This service is available at no additional charge and is also accessible virtually.”

Of course, innovation is part of the history at this resort, which was one of the pioneering spa resorts in the country.

A 90 minute-drive from LAX and 25 minutes from the city of Ventura, The Oaks is located in the heart of Ojai’s charming downtown. It sits at the end of a main street lined with quaint shops and an iconic California Spanish colonial tower. The property is in a 100-year-old location, and its central building — which houses a cozy fireside lobby, dining hall, an old ballroom turned into a workout room and a spa — was recently renovated. 

There are guestrooms in the main building and also in a series of interlocking bungalows strung together by garden paths. Citrus plants and succulents surround the property’s turquoise pool, recently covered with a large canvas sail to block the sun. Suites include small private patios with Spanish tile, lounge chairs, babbling fountains and plenty of bougainvillea. 

A typical day at The Oaks includes a set menu and 16 or more fitness classes to choose from, including a morning hike or walk. The classes are varied and cater to a variety of fitness levels. They are designed to allow participants to work at their own level, making the experience both comfortable and challenging for all. 

For years, The Oaks has been offering a wide variety of fitness options and activities, always incorporating the latest health research and trends. On a recent visit, offerings included a morning stretch and a relaxing yoga class, as well as Zumba, tai chi and barre classes. There were also aqua-cardio and tone classes in the pool and guided hikes in the hills behind the property. 

Meals at The Oaks are built off a carefully planned 1,200-calorie-a-day menu. The main meals are served either in the dining hall or in the more casual poolside lounge. Snack breaks are offered throughout the day, and special dietary needs are easily met by the on-site chef. The resort does not serve alcohol, sugar or salt, though it is easy enough to walk to nearby stores and food venues for the aforementioned items.

Throughout the year, The Oaks offers a number of special weeks and weekends, during which three or four additional themed classes are offered each day.

The majority of guests at The Oaks are friendly, health-minded women between 35 and 60 years of age. Many travel alone and participate in room sharing. 

On my visit, everyone was outgoing and talkative in the classes, on hikes and over meals. And at the same time, solo travelers looking for some quiet time were left alone if they so wished. The Oaks encourages healthy habits and a fitness lifestyle. However, it’s  laid-back, and guests aren’t pushed to do anything they are not comfortable doing. 

The Oaks encourages guests to take the healthy habits they learn home with them. Cookbooks, seasonings, jams and an array of other food and fitness products are on sale at the resort. Staff will also provide one-on-one consulting for guests looking to build a sustainable fitness or nutrition plan once they return to “real life.” And now, thanks to Skin Authority, guests can maintain that healthy spa glow all the way until their next visit.