The Ultimate Healthy Weight Loss Vacation When You’re On A Budget

New York Smash Magazine  

Hike Ojai

Staying active at The Oaks at Ojai

An all-inclusive spa vacation is the ultimate pampering experience. Your days are spent indulging in massages and facials, eating healthy gourmet meals, getting in shape and shedding unwanted pounds. You come home feeling lighter, but so does your wallet.

Chelsea Kate Isaacs

By Chelsea Kate Isaacs

After searching the country for a healthy vacation at an affordable price, we came across The Oaks at Ojai, a charming 1920s hotel-turned-spa in the peaceful town of Ojai, less than 90 miles from Los Angeles. It has most of the wellness amenities and programs of a luxury destination for a fraction of the price.

A five-night all-inclusive stay at a luxury spa can cost $6,000 or more. Meanwhile, a 5-day all-inclusive package at The Oaks starts at $1,625 per person, and includes private accommodations, three calorie-conscious gourmet meals per day, healthy activities such as hiking, kayaking and fitness classes, and a complimentary spa treatment. The spa’s most affordable option is to share a room with another guest; a shared room costs $240 per night, which includes the all-inclusive package plus all taxes and service charge, compared to $325 per night for a private room.

The Oaks at Ojai

Spa and wellness

Guests can choose to participate in 15 fitness classes per day, hiking, art tours, in-line skating, guided kayaking tours, belly dancing, yoga ropes and qi gong. A full menu of relaxing and therapeutic spa services is available as well as private consultations with a variety of health experts. The hotel has a total of 46 guest rooms, including private rooms and courtyard suites, double lodge rooms and double cottage rooms.

The Oaks at Ojai Food

Healthy cuisine at The Oaks at Ojai

“Most guests come with a common goal in mind to jump start or maintain their fitness program in a way that is fun and relaxed with healthy food options,” Cathy Cluff, president and CEO of The Oaks at Ojai, told New York Smash. “The Oaks has no bad choices when it comes to food.  Everything is prepared in a healthy manner and is designed to support the body’s overall health.  It is refreshing for people to not have to think about making a healthy food choice — it is just provided.  This also allows The Oaks to be a teaching spa to assist people in making simple lifestyle changes to improve health and longevity.”
“The goal at The Oaks is to teach guests to develop a healthy relationship with food and seek out whole, real foods and learn to avoid packaged and processed foods,” Cluff said. “We have found that by preparing dishes with fresh herbs and healthy twists to some common dishes, it allows people to enjoy good-sized portions and walk away satisfied versus craving what they do not have.”For those with weight loss goals, it’s easy to drop pounds at The Oaks. The cuisine is designed to promote healthy eating and weight loss, with fat portions below 20 percent and a 1,200-calorie per day meal plan. The food plan eliminates bad fats, added salt and refined sugar. Meals are freshly-prepared using fresh local produce and fish.

“It is a non-intimidating environment.  No one is going to ask you if you are dining alone or need a table for just one,” Cluff said. “Many long-lasting friendships have been created at The Oaks.  The fact that most guests are female and feel like they can be real at The Oaks is unique — spending an entire day, including meals, in workout clothes, no makeup and no judgement is freeing for many.”Although The Oaks is co-ed, most guests are women who want to unwind and get healthy in a peaceful environment that has a great fitness program, weight loss-friendly food and perfect weather. Because of its laid-back atmosphere, The Oaks is a popular destination for women traveling alone.

The spa recently announced its 2014-2015 calendar of value-added theme weeks and weekends that offer up to four additional classes a day at no additional price. Here’s The Oaks’ calendar through March 2015:

Villa at The Oaks at Ojai

Villa at The Oaks at Ojai


NOV. 14 – 16 MINDFUL MEDITATION The Oaks’ own Maura Patrice and Lyn Kustal offer their excellent methods for deep relaxation, stretching, and mind quieting practices.

NOV. 15 – 16 18th ANNUAL HOLIDAY HOME LOOK IN Tour four distinctive Ojai Valley homes celebrating the art of living and the joys of the holidays. A classic Masonic Lodge, a Craftsman in the Greene & Greene style and more. Staying at The Oaks this weekend? Ask the desk for your $5 off coupon. Tour details here.

NOV. 16 – 20 CYCLE OJAI Beginner and experienced cyclists are WELCOME for different level rides daily with Elisa Goody & Ken Cluff as guests’ charming and experienced guides. Guests can bring their own bike or rent one in town. Check out more details and the fun photos from the last cycle week here.


DEC. 4 – 6 HOLIDAY EATING Join Oaks Chef Christine Denney for two great food demos with tips, tastes, recipes and an

Guest room at The Oaks at Ojai

Guest room at The Oaks at Ojai

interactive Food for Thought round table discussion.

DEC. 12 – 13 A.N.A.T. (Awakening New Awareness and Transformation) Are you living deeply? Annat Provo will share poetry, tools, and group discussion about enhancing life with meaningful self empowering and inspiring choices. Read a review from a prior weekend with Annat.

DEC. 31 MONTE CARLO PARTY NIGHT Black Jack, Roulette and Bingo! Oaks staff deals while guests play. Stick around for the amazing drawing and auction for items donated by the generous (and unique) merchants of Ojai. Safe, healthy and FUN! (and, it’s all over by 9:30 pm!)



The Oaks at Ojai location

The Oaks at Ojai location


JAN. 1 – 11 MOTHER DAUGHTER DISCOUNT Receive a 40% discount off Oaks program rate for each daughter (or son) sharing a room with Mom. Each daughter gets a healthy holiday starting as low as $150 per night. (More about our room rates here) Book early, as this is a popular time!

JAN. 2 – 4 BOOT CAMP with GINA PERRIN Turn up the volume on your Mother/Daughter stay with fun hike intervals, classes, drills, and team work! Sweat and Smile with “The Boss.”

JAN. 23 – 30 YOGA, PILATES, TAI CHI and QI GONG Blend these four disciplines and guests have the added value of strength, balance, flexibility, and peace of mind during your visit here – and at home!


FEB. 1 – 8 BRING A FRIEND DISCOUNT Share a room with a best friend and each receives 25% off of the program rate. Healthy spa cuisine, healthy fitness classes and a healthy discount for the two of you to share. Ends at noon on February 9, 2015.

FEB. 14 & 15 INTRODUCTION TO MEDITATION Oaks fabulous instructors, Maura Patrice and Lyn Kustal will create a new appreciation and hunger within for silence.

MARCH 2015

MARCH 10 – 12 CREATING THE OAKS LIFESTYLE AT HOME Bring the joy of The Oaks home! Join Jina Schaefer and Katie Lee for two evening sessions with dedicated time for questions and planning that will give you easy-to-use tools to create more peace and joy in your daily life.

MARCH 14 – 21 DANCE WEEK Guests put on their dancing shoes (or take them off) and come ready to express yourself through a variety of dance teachers and styles.

The Oaks at Ojai is located at 122 East Ojai Avenue (Ojai’s main street). For more information, please visit or call (800) 753-6257 or (805) 646-5573.