Did you ever book a suite at a fancy resort, only to realize when you get there that the only thing you want to do is veg out?
We had so many expectations when we booked a family vacation at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa, in Ojai California. It is well-known by the luxury travel set for its high quality, high end day spa, level of service and bucolic setting. The Ojai Valley Inn & Spa received the AAA Five Diamond Award in 2007, and we knew this honor to be well deserved. On the drive from Santa Barbara, we discussed our planned activities: Early morning hikes, laps in the pool, intense cardio in the gym followed by deep tissue massage (him) and a spa treatment (me).
What were we thinking? The minute we entered our suite, with the king-sized bed in one room and the pull-out sofa in the other, we realized that the intensity of work and stresses of life finally had to be released. In other words, we CRASHED. We enrolled the kids in the terrific day camp and proceeded to sleep for the next 4 hours. Yes, a nap. Yes, in the middle of the day. Glorious!
Camp Ojai is for kids age 5-12, but my under-5 year old was deemed able to attend: Her older sister’s presence, along with the gentle, friendly staff, clearly made her at ease and comfortable. As a parent, I too felt instantly at ease and comfortable with the resort’s day camp. When we awoke from our lovely nap and walked the short distance to retrieve our children, they were excited and spent much of the next hour happily recounting the many games and crafts they did with their new best friends du jour. The stroll to the resort’s restaurant was idyllic, and our then-3 year old was thrilled to discover a perfectly formed baby praying mantis, only 1/8 of an inch long.
Dinner was at The Oak Grill, served outside. Although there wasn’t anything much in terms of a children’s menu per se, the staff was happy to boil up some plain noodles for my picky eater. My older daughter enjoyed some fresh grilled salmon, as did I, while their daddy was delighted with the prime rib.
And then, of course, came dessert. Ah, nothing like a long nap, followed by some unearned ice-cream-on-a-brownie…For some of us, pilates and yoga can’t hold a candle to freshly baked desserts.
After a room service breakfast, we headed to the pool. Did I say pool? This must qualify as a chlorinated lake of some sort. It was so big that there was plenty of room for kids (and kids at heart) to splash around, without intruding on the guys doing laps. The pool felt kind of cold initially, but I had to act brave in front of my kids, especially since they jumped right in without a complaint. Guess I’ve gotten spoiled.
Besides the pool, the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa features the 31,000 foot Spa Ojai, with nearly any luxury treatment available. Mothers-to-be can indulge in a babymoon getaway here, complete with in-room pampering and prenatal massages. The 18-hole golf course challenging, and provides for a satisfying game. is For those of us who vacation with our kids, adult time is easily gotten: The aforementioned Camp Ojai offers fun arts and crafts and singalongs, as well as activities specific to the lovely Ojai location. My daughters loved the petting zoo and horse stables, complete with pony rides. While I wasn’t able to judge these for myself (too busy relaxing!), the fact that my young kids set wanted to spend the next morning at the camp, again, is a testament to its quality. Camp Ojai really makes this the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa one of the most child-friendly luxury golf resorts around. There is also a babysitting service, but we didn’t avail ourselves of it. Other parents considering a family vacation here may want to reserve an evening babysitter; the other main restaurant here, the Maravilla, is adults-only.
A nice walk through rustic Ojai leads right to the town proper, which has just the right blend of tchochke stores and small dusty antique stores to ensure that everyone will find something they like to bring home.
Oh, one more thing. Luxury at places like the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa come with a hefty price tag. If, like me, you feel a little weak after signing the bill, keep in mind that the outlet stores are just a few minutes away, in Cabrillo. I came away with the cutest little Coach handbag for under a hundred bucks! A perfect end to a relaxing weekend.