Dayspa

APR 2016

DAYSPA is the business resource for spa & wellness professionals! Each issue covers the latest in skin care, spa treatments, wellness services and management strategies.

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YOURWELLNESSSPA 56 DAYSPA | APRIL 2016 To help facilitate her mission, Sheila Cluff developed an all-inclusive program enabling guests to pay one affordable price and receive: accommodations; fi tness classes; meals, snacks and beverages; use of the pool, fully equipped gym and Spa Sanctuary, with sauna, steam and whirlpool; and evening activities and lec- tures. Not surprisingly, today she's considered a pioneer of the destination spa concept as well as living testi- mony that her approach to wellness works. Over the years, The Oaks at Ojai has become an im- portant presence in the small and picturesque town of Ojai, as well as its fourth largest employer. Located on the main drag of Ojai Avenue, the property keeps com- pany with a series of cafés and niche boutiques, many of which feature the work of local artists. "Our guests like to shop, so we've partnered with some local mer- chants to offer them exclusive discounts," Cathy Cluff reports. "All of The Oaks' remodeling work has been done by local craftsmen and artists." The business also supports numerous fundraising efforts in the area. The Oaks is not only accessible in its location; it exudes a welcoming, home-away-from-home vibe that encour- ages repeat business. "This is one of the unique aspects of The Oaks that you don't fi nd at larger or corporate- run resorts," says Cathy Cluff. "The small footprint of the property is one factor, as well as the family-style dining. But the biggest factor is the non-intimidating environment and the common goal of wellness. We provide a safe environment for women to travel solo if they wish but never feel lonely or left out. A guest at The Oaks doesn't have to worry about making a 'bad' food choice or sporting the 'wrong' yoga wear, because there really is no judging. We've been called an adult summer camp with better food!" B IS FOR BONDING Our fi rst night's dinner was over and it was only 7 p.m. Now what? "Are you coming to Bingo tonight?" one of our new friends inquired. Bingo? Isn't that what they play in retirement homes? I thought to myself. But this woman was anything but retirement material—she was youthful and vibrant. Did she really want to spend an evening searching for "I-21" and "N-36" on a game card? An hour later, my offspring and I were seated at a round table with our fellow gamers, a big bowl of colored glass discs and fi ve Bingo cards lined up before each of us. Our MC for the evening, a woman named Sherry who proudly sported vivid separates and a sparkling tiara, proceeded to brief us on the rules. She was, as it happened, a trivia expert and a beloved fi gure at The Oaks. We'd play a game, she'd award a prize (a jar of the resort's signature blueberry jam; a bottle of body lotion) to the winner, shoot out a few movie trivia questions, and move on to the next round while all of us hooted, hollered, laughed and basically had the time of our lives. Even my 20-something daughter was enjoying herself. It was silly, it was sweet, it was fun and, sure enough, I felt a bit like a kid having a blast at summer camp. But make no mistake: there's serious health educa- tion going on here. Over the course of the weekend, these same women challenged themselves in mat Pilates and cardio aquatics; searched inward during self-help lectures and end-of-day yoga; and experi- enced profound relaxation via massages and facials. My chosen spa service, the Skin Authority Fit & Firm VitAD Fortifi ed Lifting Facial with AHA, was as deeply therapeutic as any facial I've received. And this, I think, is the "secret weapon" at The Oaks at Ojai. Somehow it has successfully managed to combine a comprehensive and balanced wellness pro- gram with a culture that insists on group support and camaraderie. Are there health guidelines to follow? Absolutely. Can you tailor the experience to yourself? Without a doubt. As one mischievous-eyed guest whispered to me while we were dutifully dispensing our six-ounce cups of post-dinner decaf with 2% milk, "My friend gave me a small bottle of Bailey's before I left home; I'm going to pour it into my coffee!" It was a bonding moment. Linda Kossoff is DAYSPA's executive editor. SNAPSHOT Above: The Oaks' inviting boutique lies just inside the front entrance; Below: The Spa Sanctuary is tucked further away to ensure quiet and privacy.

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