Guests relax by the
pool. This page, top to
bottom: An exercise
room; guest rooms
offer views from
and laundered (along with any other clothes
I wanted washed). I hadn’t seen many other
guests yet (there are only 32 villas and fewer
than 40 guests at any one time), but those I
had seen were not wearing the exercise clothes
from Cal-a-Vie; they were wearing their own
form-fitting, body-complementing togs they’d
brought from home, perhaps because it was
coed week. I decided to do the same during my stay. The villa was large (400 square
feet), luxurious (Frette linens and robes) and
decorated with handcrafted antique French
country furniture. It also had a deep soaking
tub and a private sundeck.
I have lunch while my bag was delivered to
my room. She walked me over to the dining
area, and I sat with two women outside on
the patio (lunch can be served either indoors
or out). Having been at several destination
spas before, I knew it was common to ask to
join others and mix and mingle in general.
Although it was November, the day was sunny
and warm. Flowers were blooming, and I
could hear the trickling of a stream. The
women, in their 50s and very fit, wore trendy
exercise garb and were discussing which
classes they had taken that morning.
Having seen the Cal-a-Vie cookbook by
executive chef Jason Graham, I was look-
ing forward to trying the fare firsthand.
Graham creates low-fat, low-sodium dishes
that focus on whole grains, legumes, locally
sourced fresh vegetables and fruit supple-
mented with lean animal protein. Lunch
— grilled salmon on a wild rice blend cov-
ered in a tasty sauce — was great.
Body Meets Spirit
Next up: my appointment with a wellness consultant to create my customized
program. I grabbed the property map and
headed to her office. We determined that my
fitness goals were to stretch and tone, so my
suggested fitness schedule avoided some of
the more hard-core classes, such as H.E. A. T.
(High-Endurance Athletic Training) and
Tread and Shed (a guided group treadmill
workout), and instead included less intense
workouts like Stability Ball Strength, Stretch
and Chakra Yoga.
After my first class, Chakra Yoga, I had a
massage. That night I decided to have a silent
dinner in my room, took a bath and went to
bed. It was blissful. I was already starting to
unwind, and I had not even been here half a day.
While I’d intended to take the sunrise
group hike through the hills surrounding the
200-acre property the next morning, when
the alarm clock rang I turned it off and slept
in. The quiet solo meal the night before had
unlocked an awareness that, more than fitness, what I really needed was solitude — a
space to connect with my spirit. But my ego
was still burning with a desire to burn calories, so I attended the morning spinning class.
I had heard that President George H. W.
Bush and Barbara Bush had been guests at
the spa in the past and that Holly wood celebs
often stay here too, but I didn’t expect to