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Classic California SpaFebruary 26, 2007 By: Mark Rogers Travel Agent
The Oaks at Ojai provides a healthy, stress-free oasis
The Oaks at Ojai (800-753-6257), a destination spa in Ojai, California, has a real sense of history and a unique feeling of place, two qualities that can't be manufactured. The Oaks at Ojai has been in operation for 30 years, on the site of Ojai's original hotel, built in 1922. While many spas of the new millennium favor spare, Zen-like design, The Oaks has a homey, rustic feel and zero pretension. Most spa statistics show a surge in spa visits by men; The Oaks flies in the face of change, maintaining a female guest ratio of 95 percent. "We don't market to men," says Cathy S. Cluff, managing director, The Oaks at Ojai. "A lot of our women guests like the relaxed setting without men being present." The average guest is a 40-plus female coming on her own or bringing a friend. Cluff notes that they see a lot of multi-generational guests, including mother-daughter pairings, especially in response to regularly scheduled Mother-Daughter Discounts in January, May and September.
"Our food plan gets the highest rating on our guest
comments cards," says Cluff. "Our guests are looking for that
controlled diet." The Oaks spa cuisine consists of 1,000 calories a day,
with a concentration on fresh, local produce prepared without added salt or
Most of The Oaks' 46 rooms are standard rooms, which are
also the most economical. Rates are based on occupancy. "We still do
room-sharing at The Oaks," says Cluff. "Sharing a room and receiving
double occupancy rates enables more people to come on their own."
Several years ago The Oaks introduced suites built and
decorated in Mission Revival style, a style found throughout the town of
to be popular, averaging 90 percent occupancy throughout the year. "Our
introduction of suites was in response to guests saying to us, 'I love what you
do, but I'm accustomed to more luxurious accommodations,"' says Cluff.
Suites have handmade tiles, bathrooms accented with wrought-iron fixtures,
jetted tubs, handcarved doors, headboards, vanities and closets made of
distressed Alder wood. Wrought-iron lanterns accent the
The property's two Courtyard Suites cover more than 600
square feet, double the size of any guest room the spa has offered in the past,
and feature an additional 430 square feet of courtyard and patio space. Guests
enter courtyards complete with fountain, hand-tinted Sautillo tile flooring,
and a variety of plants native to
including fruit trees such as orange, fig, kumquat and tangerine. The Oaks also
has three Mini Spa Suites; these are 375 square feet, plus a 240-square-foot
enclosed patio with fountain.
The Oaks also bucks the trend on advance spa appointments.
"We've found that 50 percent of our guests would change their appointments
once they arrived and saw the schedule of activities available to them,"
says Cluff. "We also experienced late arrivals missing out on their spa
appointment." The signature treatment is the Ojai Olive Oil Body Souffle,
which utilizes oil from locally grown olives. In this vein, The Oaks is
developing a new treatment using locally grown oranges to create an orange body
Additional treatments include Ojai River Rock Massage,
Swedish massage, watsu and acupuncture.
"Activities at The Oaks are considered an added
value," says Elizabeth Horton, director of activities. "For example,
an included activity might be a smoking cessation program representing a $1,500
value." Activities include yoga, tai chi, qi gong sessions and exercise
sessions in the pool. "I'm developing an Oaks Unplugged activity,"
says Horton. "It will utilize self-administered hand massage that helps
people unwind from the physical stress from sitting at a computer all day or using
The Oaks is situated right on Ojai's main street. Cluff says
that guests love the nearby shopping arcade, neighborhood art galleries and
Bart's Books, an Ojai institution a few blocks away.
The market breaks down to 60 percent drive and 40 percent
fly-in. The Oaks is about 90 minutes from the
recommends agents book ahead three to fours weeks. The Oaks pays travel agents
10 percent commission. The travel agent liaison for the property is Jackie
Pahnke, reservations and group sales manger. She can be reached at
A stay at The Oaks starts at $180 per person, per night, for
a Standard Twin Double Lodge, and $320 per person, per night, for a Mini Spa
Suite. This includes overnight accommodations, three meals a day, choice of 16
fitness classes per day and evening entertainment and seminars.