Tours, travels, hikes and journeys!

Posts tagged ‘health’

Cal-a-vie Resort, Vista, CA

On Friday, I was given a very delightful and through tour of the Cal-a-Vie resort.

As part of my 34 years of researching wellness centers and resorts, I had researched this resort several years ago.  It opened in 1985 more as an upscale weight loss resort.  With the purchase and restoration of the spa by the present owners, Terri and John Havens, it truly feels and looks like a small French village. With the 200 acres of  hilly countryside , just 40 miles north of San Diego, the small orange grove that honors frequent guests and the grape orchards, you feel like you are in another country.  This very private  luxury spa resort treats its guests to a 5:1 ratio, and the extra attention and care is seen in every aspect of this place.

The first photo is of the Chapel and L-Orangerie, originally part of a Carmelite monastery in Dijon, France, built in the early 1700’s and brought over piece by piece to be rebuilt on the grounds.  The other picture is of the rolling hills and orchards seen from the Chapel grounds.

View of chapel and L'Orangerie  View east from chapel

When you enter through the front gate, you will see the Ted Robinson style private golf course to the east.

Front gate Aug 23 2013 Golf course

The entire resort is furnished with 17th, 18th and 19th Century antiques purchased by the Havens and shipped back to the resort for furnishings as well as to sell to guests at their antique store.  I loved how each room is unique with it’s different couches, light fixtures, tables, etc.  My favorite was the wood used on many of the floors, pine barn wood taken from an old world barn.

Here is a photo of the floor and antique storeroom.

Old world wood floors Antiques in storage room

The chapel and L’Orangerie are very special buildings, with a great history.  The chapel is used for meditation, weddings, yoga, and other small gatherings. It has no electricity so everything is done by candlelight.  The L’Orangerie is used for corporate retreats and meetings, weddings, and other gatherings. It’s demonstration kitchen is used to instruct guests in simple techniques they can take home to use for healthy meals. The meals demonstrated are then cooked right there and provided to the attending guests.

Here are pictures of the inside of the chapel, the foyer of L’Orangerie (a Cal-a-Vie photo), plaques on both of them, the demonstration kitchen and the wonderful lawn outside the L’Orangerie which provides a lovely space for weddings.

Plaque on L-Orangerie Demo kitchen in L'Orangerie Inside chapel Lawn outside L-Orangerie L'orangerie foyer Cal-a-vie photo L'Orangerie reception hall Plaque on Chapel

There are 32 Mediterranean style villas including 7 suites.  The rooms run from 500 sq. ft. to 800 sq. ft for the suites. Each room has a private sun deck or balcony. The bathrooms have a jacuzzi tub and separate shower, and heated limestone floors.  The rooms are furnished with unique French antiques and lighting fixtures.  Rooms are cleaned with green cleaning products only. Guests come for 3, 4 and 7 day visits.  A 7 day stay runs from $8295 – $8795; 4 days from $5295-$5795; and 3 days from $3995-$4395 plus tax.  These rates include all meals and snacks, several spa therapies or golf, all classes,  fitness facilities and recreational activities.  There are special rates for 2 people signing up together. Guests are limited to 18 years and above.

Here are some pictures of the outside and inside of the guest rooms.  The first photo is provided by Cal-a-Vie, a picture of a suite;  the next two are ones I took of the outside; the next one is provided by Cal-a-Vie, a picture of the inside of a guest room; and the last one is one I took of the inside of a guest room.

Suite Cal-a-vie pnoto entrance to guest room 2 entrance to guest room Guest room Cal-a-vie photo Inside guest room

The executive Chef, Curtis Cooke, formerly of the  Golden Door resort, uses organic and local sustainable produce as much as possible and meals are served in the dining room, the outside patio of the dining room, the demonstration kitchen, in rooms when requested and even in the sweet room in the working windmill.  The windmill room is offered to newlyweds, to  have some time alone after their wedding and before moving on to the reception. There is no alcohol served with meals. Guests may bring alcohol to have in their rooms only. An on staff dietician is available for private consultation and teaches nutrition classes and gives lectures. The new chef is working to expand the organic garden onsite.

The first photo is taken of the windmill room, the second picture is of the dining hall, the next one is of the outside pizza oven and organic garden,  and lastly, a photo of the outside patio and pond.

Room inside windmill Dining room Pizza oven and organic garden Pond and outside dining outside dining hall

The focus of this resort is on providing guests with activities, instruction, therapies, cooking classes, etc. for relaxation, retreat, an opportunity to get back in shape and create a new healthier lifestyle they can continue when they return home.  Guests fill out a questionnaire when they first register and then go through an interview upon arrival. During this interview they are asked about their particular health and fitness goals, past exercise routines, and needs, so that a personalized daily schedule can be created for them. Daily fitness classes aren’t scheduled ahead of time but rather created to meet the needs of the guests for that week.  There are daily hikes, over 100 exercise classes, 20 mind/body classes; including pilates, spinning, yoga, walks, an Olympic sized pool and a smaller pool, water classes, meditation, tai chi, Qi gong, tennis on a clay court, sand volleyball, basketball, other lawn games, and of course the golf course.  The fitness center is as luxurious as all the other buildings, looking much different than any other fitness center I’ve seen. There is even a labyrinth!

Below is a picture of the recreation courts, tennis court,  labyrinth, the library and lobby of the fitness center and the Olympic sized pool.

Sand volley ball basket ball court other games Clay tennis court Labyrinth Library in Fitness center Lobby of fitness center Olympic pool and administration building

As the resort focuses on creating a stress free environment, they provide windbreakers, rain gear, gray sweat shirts and pants, t-shirts, shorts, robes, bath shoes, and  bedroom slippers so that guests don’t have to worry about packing. There is a boutique that sells anything else you might need.  There are guest speakers and themed weeks throughout the year.

As therapies are a big part of this program, there are over 60 daily spa therapeutic treatments and services offered at the salon and spa.  Some of the spa offerings are reiki, Thai massage, shiatsu, vibrational therapy, cranial sacral, acupuncture, facials, body wraps and various massage modalities.  The spa rooms are beautiful, spacious and have the same elegant furnishings that are throughout this resort.

The first photo is the registration lobby, and then a Cal-a-Vie photo of the inside of the lobby and lastly, a sweet hot tub for relaxation.

Spa Building Front lobby Cal-a-vie photo Relaxation place

My pictures don’t do this place justice so please go to their website for more information or better yet, book a retreat for yourself!

Optimum Health Institute, Lemon Grove, CA

This is another one of the wellness centers that I researched years ago so it was a treat to finally get to visit.  I have a friend who has worked here before so that gave me an introduction as well. Today I attended their weekly open house, orientation, and meal. Even though I was a visitor and not someone attending their program, I was welcomed just the same. I found everyone there very warm and welcoming.

The program was initially started  as Robert P. Nees, Sr., his wife, Pamela and their friend, Raychel Solomon, met at a class teaching God-centered mental techniques for healing the whole person, taught by Robert’s brother, the Reverend Russell Nees.  Raychel traveled to the Hippocrates of Boston center and learned Essene based dietary and cleansing practices and brought these back to add to the program.  They then created Hippocrates West,  a not for profit mind-body-spiritual healing center.

Soon they recognized the need for a stronger spiritual base so they transferred the assets to The Free Sacred Trinity Church, a Christian church rooted in Essence traditions.  The healing center became a mission of the church and in 1977 the name was changed to the Health Institute of San Diego and then in 1983 it was changed to the Optimum Institute. Although the Institute is connected to this church, they do not hold services and hold space for any and all religious and spiritual traditions.

The center was started in a home and quickly outgrew those facilities and they moved to their present location, which they have expanded over the years.  They have been at their present location for 36 years. They average around 100-120 guests per week.

The focus of this program is to cleanse and nourish the body with diet, fasting, exercise,; quiet and focus the mind with journaling and meditation; and teach the guest tools so they take these healthy practices back into their lives. Although this isn’t a medical facility, many healings have taken place over the years after guests have attended the classes and taken these practices back into their lives, including guests arriving with stage 4 cancer given 2 weeks to live.  The idea is to detox the body/mind/spirit and then give the body what it needs to rebuild a healthy system, not just for a week or month but for a healthy future. People seem to return over and over and some guests end up living on the property and/or returning to work there.

The program is 21 days long and can be attended at one time or a week or two at a time.  There is the CA campus and two in Austin, TX.  There are 40 classes offered per week.

Week 1 -Body/mind/spirit connection

Week 2- Tools for healthier choices

Week 3- Take home skills

The cleansing is done with wheat grass grown on the property and juiced just before use by the guests; enemas, wheat grass implants, and gentle exercise and stretches.  Massage, reiki, reflexology, salt glow body treatment, body wrap, colon hydrotherapy and chiropractic care are available on site as well.

The food is all organic, fresh and raw, some grown on the property.  All the water on the property is filtered and the drinking water is filtered twice and then the ph is balanced, too.Classes are taught in how to prepare the food, too.  Guests are taught how to grow and juice wheat grass.  There are gardens to rest or walk in, a jacuzzi, a pool, a library, a night for movies, a store, a chapel, groups, ceremonies, and Friday night live sharing of talents.   All the guests seemed very honoring and supportive of each other.

The program costs $955.00 per week.  The accommodation prices range from $475-$1195 single occupancy for a room,  $370 and up for a room in a shared townhouse, and $645 for a 2 Bdr. townhouse. I’m assuming these prices are per week.

The dinner meal I shared with them consisted of: Cucumber and tomato salad, Broccoli Salad delight, Humus, Sprouts, Green salad, celery sticks, zucchini sticks and crackers made from dehydrated zucchini slices with some spices. There were salad dressings, various sprouts, lentils, spices and nuts to add to the meal. No salt or sugar is used at all. The entire meal was raw food.

These are pictures of the patios, a courtyard and some rooms.


Patio and rooms Brick courtyard and rooms Bungalow

This is the front lawn and office, the dining room and a lecture room and the door to the chapel for meditation and contemplation.

Office and front lawn Dining room and lecture room Door to chapel


This is the organic gardens and avocado trees, the greenhouse where wheat grass is grown and the memorial garden.

Organic garden Green house Memorial garden


For further information you can check out their website at:


Canyon Ranch, Tucson, AZ

In Dec. I went with a friend to tour Canyon Ranch. We received an extensive tour, with a wonderful young man leading the way. He had been working there a little while and loved working there, was pleased with how supported he felt there, how much they encouraged him to grow.

Canyon Ranch was created by it’s owner who still lives in a home on the property, right a midst the rest of the offered lodgings. I was impressed with this.  There are several Canyon ranch facilities in different locations including 2 resorts, one hotel and spa in Florida, and 3 spa clubs at other hotels.  I liked the concept of this family starting this one resort and seeing how much it has grown and expanded to other locations. That must be quite fulfilling. Canyon Ranch Tucson was originally a working ranch, then from the 1930’s to 1970’s, it was a guest ranch.  It now consists of 200 acres including a housing development with the owners able to have access to the spa and activities.

It is nestled at the south side of the Santa Catalina Mountains, near Sabino Canyon.   Facilities include regular rooms to a  2700 sq. feet 2 bdr. home.  The rates are all inclusive and include use of all classes, meals, facilities. They start at $3030 for 4 nights, including $650 service allowance to $6500 for 4 days, depending upon room size chosen.  One of the great room amenities is your choice of pillows from the 20 pillow menu.  for someone who has purchased numerous therapeutic pillows and even attempted to make my own pillow, I loved this offering. The young man told us that there are people who come and stay for a month at a time or more, no matter the cost.

There are 4 swimming pools, including a watsu pool and aquatic therapy pools.  There are three food venues, with all nutritional information and ingredients listed on the menus, with various diet restrictions honored. There are regular cooking classes to teach guests how to cook using more healthy ingredients. No alcohol is served but you are allowed to bring alcohol with you and consume it in your room. The resort is a cell phone free zone.

Their spa, salon, and fitness facilities are VERY extensive, including a large staff of medical professionals, MD’s, chiropractic, acupuncturists, hypnotherapists and others.  You are able to choose your therapies or join in one of the various programs.  There is even a gait and footwear analysis.  The spa also has metaphysical offerings including astrology, tarot, clairvoyant readings, crystal energy sessions, Feng Shui, handwriting analysis, and numerology.  There are various spiritual programs, life enhancement programs and creative arts activities.

While I was there they were building a new ropes course to include in their fitness programs and business offerings.  They have hikes, horse back riding and other outdoor activities.

I was having such a good time on the tour that I only took a few pictures afterwards, so am including a few pictures from their website instead.

canyon ranch main canyon ranch pool canyon ranch room canyon ranch rope course Canyon ranch spiritual canyon ranch

Green Valley Resort And Spa, St. George, Utah

I have researched Wellness centers and resorts for 34 years, interviewing people who started wellness/retreat centers, people who managed them, land developers, organizational developers, construction supervision, real estate agents who specialize in selling large properties for this use, spa managers,  venture capitalists,etc.  Along with this, I have researched online over 70 resorts, spas and wellness centers/learning centers world wide.  This one was on my list so I went to tour it while in St. George.  I was staying just down the street so was able to visit it twice.

This has been one of my top favorites I have visited so far.  It is family owned, created by Carol Coombs, an intuitive healer and her architect husband. It had the family feel to me. It is rated by AAA as a 4 diamond resort and the rooms are quite luxurious, and yet very warm and cozy.  The beds were wonderful rustic wood frames with soft cotton comforters.  The products in the rooms are created and produced by the resort.  There is high grade coffee, popcorn and a popcorn maker, along with a small fridge and other amenities to make people feel at home.

You can stay there and just pay for the room, pay a little extra for bed and breakfast or pay full price for 3 meals a day, snacks,  20+ classes offered a day, fitness facilities, spa offerings, tennis courts and an indoor golf facility for training.  The restaurant serves health oriented, seasonal, local produced food when available, grass fed beef.  The spices and herbs are combined using Ayurvedic principles.

They have medically supervised weight loss programs, stress recovery programs and other programs personally designed.  The spa has the normal spa offerings along with vibrational and energetic therapies. Carol is very interested in and has researched extensively color and light therapy and each day the spa uses different colored light bulbs, colored and aromatherapy infused baths to soak in before treatments and products produced by the spa to support the various energy systems in the body.  I had a long talk with Carol and she talked of gathering spa owners around the country to create the first spa association and then pushing them to start including vibrational and energetic therapies.  She was warm and friendly as was all the rest of the staff.

Guided hikes and adventure programs are offered, as well as classes with mustang horses, personal coaching for life goals, stress recovery, tennis, golf and other topics.  The facilities sit on 17 acres and includes a labyrinth, several pools, tennis courts, indoor golf facility, fitness facility, classes and transportation and guides to hikes in the area.

The resort offers suites, 1 and 2 Bdr. Villas and a presidential suite. Also, next to the resort are privately owned 1, 2, 3, 4 bdr. condos that are rented out and include use of the family fitness facility, tennis courts, pools, golf facility and access to the spa. The resort is available also for corporate and other events.  The resort extends its facilities for community use, too, and hosts a regular Sunday gathering of various guest speakers.

The resort rooms start at $129 for room only and $200 a day including meals and access to all activities.

Green Valley Spa Nov 27 2012 Labyrinth at Green Valley Spa More Green Valley Spa Casita views Pools at Green Valley Spa

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: