After a week-long, action-packed birthday celebration in Santa Barbara,we decided that the best possible icing on the cake would be to finish the trip off with a final stop at the famed Ojai Valley Inn and Spa. As soon as you enter, you’ll understand how this glam resort walked away with the Triple A, 5 Diamond Award three years in a row. If you’ve never been, put it at the top of your to-do list. If you have been, you’ll be looking for any feeb excuse for a return visit to savor the relaxed luxury that this dramatically landscaped 220 acre golf and spa resort provides.

Farm-fresh and Fabulous

Our fave eating experience was dining al fresco at Maravilla, the resort’s signature restaurant. Check out Executive Chef Jamie West’s new 2 acre herb garden, which he uses to create “cuisine that is inspired by the bounty and driven by the season, with global influence”. It also is the perfect vantage point for The Pink Moment, (made all the better while enjoying a glass of champers) when the bells chime to announce the last rays of light have hit the mountain peaks, creating a becoming blush.

Warm Vibe

The 308 rooms and sumptuous suites are beautifully appointed in a Spanish colonial-style with dark-wood furnishings and colorful accents. Most rooms offer private balconies or patios, (perfect for a little breakfast while watching golfers tee-off at the championship 18-hole course) working fireplaces, plasma flat-screen televisions, and high-speed Internet. But what really separates the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa from other lavish resorts is the exceptional service provided by everyone your path crosses. From the hard-working gardeners to the concierge, the whole staff is “on it” in the warmest way possible. (We loved the cute tongue-in-cheek retro candies at the reception desk- and no one raised an eye-brow when I stuffed my pockets with them.)

Spa Ojai Excels

Ojai Valley Inn and Spa is a special place where you can actually feel your cares and woes simply ooze away. Of course, a visit to the full-service Spa Ojai for a Skin Dream Relaxation Wrap, Sun Lover’s Facial or Bindi Sugar Body Glow won’t hurt matters. Every morning we did something physical, either a power walk around the immaculate grounds, a gym work-out, or a yoga /pilates class, so we felt no guilt lounging around the pool all afternoon. We had talked about signing up for one of their rock-climbing expeditions, but talk was as far as we got.

Artist’s Cottage and Apothecary

Veronica Cole, the gracious PR manager strongly urged us not to miss the terrific activities offered at the charming Artist’s Cottage and Apothecary. We signed up for the Essential Oil Custom Blending Class and joined two other girlfriends, also celebrating a birthday, to sniff and smell, mix and match, laugh and learn, all under the holistic tutelage of the remarkable Renata Collins, until we each created a mini- flask of our own personalized fragrance. It was possibly the best birthday present ever.
With total modesty, I announced my “Exotic Eastern Madness” with its seductive hints of blood orange and myrrh, to be the winning scent. Renata also offers creative art sessions, such as making a Personal Mandala, a unique life journaling experience, and a new precious metal clay class- all perfect for girlfriend getaways.

Added Value:

The Ojai Valley Inn and Spa’s most exclusive accommodation is Casa Elar, an exqusite 10,400 sq. ft. villa, which could be the cover shot for an “Incredibly Rich and Famous” show. For trust fund bambino’s, girlfriends on a splurge, or friends and family looking to celebrate and connect, this fully staffed, Italian-styled villa offers such complete privacy and superlative service that even Paris Hilton wouldn’t find anything to complain about. In my next life, I’m moving in.