Let’s venture out from our Vallejo home-base to Ojai, a Southern California city that we sense has a special relationship to time. Some towns similar in scale to Ojai might be labelled as places that ‘time forgot.’ But not Ojai. Here we sense that that this beautiful place situated less than half hour away from Ventura’s oceanfront and ringed by the Topatopa Mountains and the Las Padres National Forest has instead made its peace with time.
Visitors who by design or serendipitous change of plans arrive in Ojai find that the Spanish Colonial Revival architecture that houses many of the downtown buildings is a good match for the city’s pulse – lively but not relentless. It’s a fitting backdrop for this franchise-free (by design) city where a constellation of health and wellness destinations are clustered.
Perhaps no other spa in this area represents its measured pace more than The Oaks at Ojai, an all-inclusive resort that since the late 1970s offers calorie-conscious meals, fitness options and a wide assortment of spa services – all in an atmosphere devoid of that feverish but grim ‘determined-to-lose that weight’ approach that many other spas seem to adhere to.
Another differentiating feature of The Oaks is the many inventive packages that offer incentives for bringing along family and friends: Spa guests are the stars here – rather than the rising stars on the spa treatment scene.
Guided walks, frequent speakers knowledgeable about the Ojai region and the resort’s proximity to the weekly Farmer’s Market (just down the block) help spa guests feel the connection of community that is a big driver in the vision of The Oaks founder, Sheila Cluff.
We shared breakfast with Cluff one morning. It was exhilarating to discover that this living fitness legend in her early eighties is still a driving force at the resort. Stay tuned for our next installment of The Ways We Work when we focus more on the amazing arc of Cluff’s multifaceted business career.
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Before you leave this page, consider clicking on the short video above. You will get a sense of the ambiance of this resort as you hear church chimes reverberate over the beautiful grounds of The Oaks at Oaji – the place that has made peace with time.
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