A look at one of 32 private villas at Cal-a-Vie PHOTO COURTESY OF BRAND
Recharge your mind, body and soul at the award-winning Cal-a-Vie Health Spa, a European-style oasis tucked just north of San Diego.
PHOTO COURTESY OF BRAND
While I’ve traveled quite a bit, it’s rare that I take a solo excursion. But it was my invitation to Cal-a-Vie Health Spa (cal-a-vie.com), located just north of San Diego in Vista, that provided the perfect opportunity to recharge on my own. Spanning more than 500 acres, the exquisite property offers three-, four- and seven-night retreats that focus on fitness, spa services and health-conscious cuisine, all in an intimate setting. Marrying European spa philosophies with California’s love for all things wellness, Cal-a-Vie invites its lucky guests to stay in 32 private villas, where the staff -to-guest ratio is 5-to-1.
Retreat from the sun on a chaise lounge or make a splash in one of two pools on property. PHOTO COURTESY OF BRAND
The experience begins by completing written health assessments prior to your arrival, ensuring your stay is an ideal combination of both physical activity and relaxation. Once there, you’ll meet with a nutritionist and health coach to determine your calorie intake during your stay (though not required) and establish your preferences regarding fitness classes and spa treatments. For some, the goal is weight loss; for others, it’s to simply enjoy the great outdoors, indulge in self-care at the spa or break a sweat in one of Cal-a-Vie’s more than 160 fitness classes.
The Pavilion Fitness Center houses Cal-A-Vie’s classes PHOTO COURTESY OF BRAND
Each day begins with an optional morning hike or walk, with the hikes increasing in length each day. From there, breakfast is served communal style at 7:30AM, and it’s the one meal of the day where you’ll choose your own dish—don’t miss the blueberry pancakes, when available. Lunch follows at 1PM and dinner at 7PM, with smoothie and snack breaks in between. Executive chef Felipe Gonzalez Varon, in partnership with lead registered dietitian Alexandra Dusenberry, leads the property’s culinary program, offering set options that are perfectly portioned to each guest’s calorie goals and dietary preferences. During my stay, delicious meals included a turkey burger paired with sweet potato fries and a mixed greens salad for lunch, followed by zucchini soup, pan-seared scallops and a mini cranberry-blueberry crisp for dinner. Menus change daily, and all embrace Cal-a-Vie’s dedication to using high-quality ingredients. (You can even take a cooking class with Gonzalez Varon to learn how to craft your own health-conscious meals at home.) And while you won’t find alcohol offered at meals, many guests enjoy sampling wines from Château Cal-a-Vie at the on-site Parish House, a stunning space that was imported from France and revived in 2018.
The candelit Labyrinth PHOTO COURTESY OF BRAND
Between the upscale dining breaks, fitness classes are offered from the morning to early evening, with offerings ranging from yoga, meditation and Pilates to HIIT, dance and even water-friendly sweat sessions in the pool. Tennis and pickleball enthusiasts will also find clay courts ready for competition, and tennis stars oft en make appearances through Cal-a-Vie’s exclusive partnerships. (During my stay, we were treated to tennis lessons with Olympic gold medalist Pam Shriver.) All that hard work leads to well-earned time at the beautiful spa. Most guests opt to spend the mornings working out, followed by an afternoon of facials, massages, reflexology and more. Beauty treatments are also offered, including nail polish touch-ups, hair, makeup and lash services.
A healing sound bath is one of many meditative offerings PHOTO COURTESY OF BRAND
After wrapping up the day’s agenda, dinner is followed by an optional nighttime activity. On my first night, I enjoyed a guided walk through Cal-a-Vie’s Labyrinth. A winding rock-outlined path is illuminated by dozens of candles and the starry sky above, and guests are encouraged to meditate on something they’d like to let go of or hope for in the future. Another special evening included viewing stars and planets—including Saturn’s rings!—through a high-powered Takahashi telescope at the property’s on-site observatory. Like everything at Cal-a-Vie, the experience was pure magic—and one I’ll remember for years to come.
Guest services include daily laundry service, with clothes picked up and delivered to your villa. PHOTO COURTESY OF BRAND