A Secret Hideaway
If you are yearning for a 5-Star destination spa retreat that’s reminiscent of a French country inn, you will find it at the private, secluded enclave called Cal A Vie. Though it’s not actually an enclave— the word means “group home,”or “closed society” or “collective”–yet it feels like one, the minute you enter the property. Especially when you walk across the old splintering wooden bridge and into this intimate rural parish of authentic French country villas clustered around a swimming pool. Looking out from the hilltop chapel, you will see the most charming array of terracotta rooftops. It’s as if you have arrived at a small Provencal village above the clouds. This is a delightful experience, especially if you live in the hustle of a big city.
Conveniently situated a couple of hours south of Los Angeles, this hideaway haven is only 40 miles from San Diego. In this era of chaotic travel, it is stressful to fly across the country, and many are cautious to go anywhere overseas. However, if you are yearning for an authentic taste of Provence without a passport, then this is your slice of heaven.
After a few hours drive from Los Angeles, I found a little sign off a country road that said “Haven’s Way,” and I drove up a steep hill to the top of what appeared to be a little village town reminiscent of the south of France. I was greeted by a staff member, had a tour of the property and was escorted to a large, cozy Mediterranean style villa suite, which was right off the swimming pool. It was surprisingly spacious, and I felt as if I were transported to a 19th century hillside country inn from another time and place. After a long trip to a resort, it is my custom to immediately try out the pool with a few soothing laps–and then off to bed after the stressful traffic.
Upon awakening, I was gently entertained by the serenade of chirping birds while I rested on my pillow-topped feather bed. I could not get myself up and out to the early morning hike. Sinking so deeply into the plumped up pillows supporting my back, I remained snuggled under an authentic French pouf and duvet. In my 400-square-foot suite, the authentic wooden French doors across from my bed were wide open into the misty morning haze. I must admit I did not actually intend to take the sunrise hike into the hills. It was already eight o’clock and I was not ready to face the day yet. I was content to just relax in my warm, cozy bed, looking out the window. As the mist faded, it revealed the authentic 17th century French Chapel On The Hill, which had been sent stone by stone, directly from France, and strategically placed on a hilltop perch, as if it were meant to be there.
If you like an intimate setting (max of 25 guests) where you are pampered to perfection with personalized attention, then this is your place. If you seek the best in gourmet spa meals, sybaritic pleasure, set among the finest quality French antiques, you will love this place. When you take a break from the daily routine, check out the au courant fashions at the spa boutique–especially to reward yourself for the hard workouts. While you’re hunting for gifts, check out the recipes from Chef Steve Pernetti’s spa cuisine book–so you can bring back all the recipes you loved (including the chocolate swirl pie) at home!)
If your goal is fitness, health and nutrition, you will find it here. Cal A Vie is truly a labor of love, where the owners have truly gone beyond the norm to create the ‘est of the best in the ultimate spa experience. With the focus on wellness, you will find the latest classes in health and nutrition, including specialized weeks with guest speakers. A visit with the staff nutritionist is a must, to find out how to rev up your metabolism. Cal-a-Vie Health Spa practices a functional medicine approach to diet and lifestyle by addressing underlying causes rather than symptoms.
You can try out the latest fitness classes, from the Bozu Ball workout (like a half-cut balance ball) to the fun, low impact dance classes that are all the rage. Time flies so quickly, you may not even notice that you’ve worked out harder than you do at home. Your body, your mind and spirit will emerge with a renewed sense of vitality. This is the kind of place where you can experiment with new workouts, from Zumba (a Latin-based movement class) to all kinds of aerobics (water- and land-based). This is the ideal opportunity to get personal attention for circuit training or Tai Chi or cardio kickboxing. If you are a hiker, the challenging hillside trails are so diverse, you will never get bored on 400 acres. The owners expanded and purchased the Vista Valley Country Club, which has a challenging 18-hole golf course and natural beauty that is like a hidden jewel. Many improvements have been made to this already perfect escape, including an aquatics center and an authentic L’Orangerie for the ultimate wedding ceremony.
The most luxurious parts of the program (from three nights to a week of indulgences) are located in the Provencal Bath House and the salon. There are so many unique treatments, including the scalp massage with the vibrating chair and to the microcurrent facial with an oxygen mask.
Did you know that coffee grounds can help with cellulite? I know it sounds exotic to have coffee rubbed on your skin, but it does have some really therapeutic qualities. I highly recommend the BODYCOFFEE Vichy Scrub, which is an exfoliating body polish with Dead Sea salts, revitalizing essential oils and coffee grounds!.Then you will be smothered in the body wash which has antioxidants from the coffee extract, along with aloe vera and olive oil to help smooth the skin. After this you will be soothed with a BODYCOFFEE Body Lotion. It really works!
If you live in the United States and want the most authentic experience of being in the French countryside, then Cal A Vie is the haven escape for you. Celebrity spotting is de rigueur at this wellness retreat, so don’t be surprised if you are huffing and puffing at a workout with Natalie Portman, Tom Ford or Julia Roberts nearby.