Health and wellness are paramount in California, so it’s no surprise that the state has more than its share of high-end spas and wellness centres. Think four-star resorts in smart beach towns, luxe day spas with celebrity followings, and rustic-chic spiritual centres with natural hot springs. Whether you are looking for a day of luxurious pampering or a technology-free weekend retreat, you’ll find your Zen in the Golden State. Here is a sampling of where to soak, soothe, and splurge statewide.
In Tinsel town, one would expect an abundance of extravagant spas, and the city does not disappoint. Treat yourself to an experience of ultimate luxury and feel like a star for the day. The Spa at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown L.A. is a true red carpet experience. After being greeted with a glass of bubbly, relax into a Champagne soak, scrub, and massage. Then rejuvenate yourself in the eucalyptus steam room of this pristine white-and-metallic dream spa. Embrace classic Hollywood glamour at the Beverly Hills Hotel Spa by La Prairie with a Pure Gold radiance facial and caviar body massage. Take your appointment in a private poolside cabana or in one of six treatment rooms. A rooftop retreat at The Peninsula Beverly Hills, The Peninsula Spa is fit for the likes of Elizabeth Taylor (who spent six of her honeymoons here). Channel your inner celebrity with a precious-gem treatment—rich oils containing bits of ruby, emerald, sapphire, and diamond are said to draw upon the stones’ healing powers. For a visual stunner, enter the white-on-white world of Ciel Spa, then the Philippe Starck-designed oasis in the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills.
Coastal retreats offer a new wave of pampering. Go for the candlelit couples’ treatment—a dip in side-by-side tubs followed by synchronized massages. Spend all day at the enormous oceanfront Spa at Terranea located at the posh Terranea Resort on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. With the sounds of the ocean waves crashing outside the treatment room, you can indulge in holistic treatments including a seaweed wrap and saltwater bath, topped off with an aromatherapy massage.
The perfect complement to visiting award-winning vineyards is a trip to one of Sonoma County or the Napa Valley’s sumptuous spas. Set amidst a backdrop of rolling hills, broad valleys, and miles of grapes, the region is not only a visual Shangri-La that is perfect for relaxing, it is also ripe with natural hot springs and mineral-rich muds that naturally lend themselves to spa treatments.
Smack in the middle of the Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa at The Fairmont ranks as one of the most indulgent and classic spa destinations. The resort’s 40,000-square-foot/3,700-square -meter Willow Stream Spa is famous for being one of the only luxury spas in the country with its own source of thermal mineral water, rising from 1,100 feet/335 metres beneath the earth. Spoil yourself with the elaborate Bathing Ritual, which includes an exfoliating scrub, a soak in warm mineral water, a whirl in a hot Jacuzzi, followed by a visit to the spa’s eucalyptus steam room and the European sauna. At Spa Solage, part of the chic 89-room Solage Calistoga resort in the Napa Valley, look for an interesting and ecologically conscious twist on traditional mud and thermal therapies. Go for the signature Mudslide, a three-part treatment that starts with a trip to the Mud Bar, which offers several blends of mineral-enriched clay and volcanic ash that you slather on as a rejuvenating mask. Then, soak in an oversized tub featuring geothermal mineral water from Solage’s own spring. Finally, wrap it up, literally, while swathed in cosy blankets and nestled in one of the spa’s state-of-the-art reclining vibration chairs, meant to mimic zero gravity.
Tucked away in a lush, wooded canyon, The Auberge Spa at Calistoga Ranch lets you melt away in mineral water pools that overlook a babbling creek and moss-laden oaks. Retreat to your treatment room, complete with private outdoor shower and soaking tub, for an Antidote massage which it uses ancient Yogic techniques to restore natural biorhythms. Namaste.
The 31,000-square-foot/2,880-square-metre spa village at this classic California resort caters to some of Hollywood’s best. The stucco-and-Moroccan-tile Mind & Body Center features a tranquil lap pool and upmarket fitness centre. For a unique, experience, try the Kuyam, an updated sweat lodge where you will breathe in lemongrass-infused steam after being coated with cleansing mud and herbs. To unwind after this exhilarating treatment, try the Petals package, a rub-down with powdered roses followed by a rose-gel shower, and finished with a rose-oil massage. Freshly picked flowers stimulate the senses during the spa’s sought-after seasonal treatments.
About an hour inland from Newport Beach, on the other side of the mountains in the Cleveland National Forest, is the much-talked-about Glen Ivy Hot Springs, founded in 1860. It is the type of place where you can spend a full afternoon lounging and sipping cocktails by the pool with friends. Admission grants visitors day long access to the spa's facilities, from the red-clay outdoor mud baths (cleverly deemed Club Mud) to the many mineral tubs (if you can stand the stinky sulphur, you will experience skin-softening bliss) to the bone-dry sauna. Spa treatments, such as facials and massages, cost extra and fill up quickly. The ancient Lomi Lomi Hawaiian massage is worth booking in advance and incorporates deep, gentle strokes. Go full circle with a meditation session and health food from the on-site Café Solé.