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Fantasy Fitness Spa: Cal A Vie, California

Cal A Vie new spa pool

To banish the winter blues, we’ve declaring this Fantasy Fitness Spas of the West week! What exactly does that mean? Are we sending flying you and a friend to Palm Springs? Not exactly.

Instead we’ve dedicated a week to cubicle travel (cause who really sits in armchairs?), during which we skirt you away to our five favorite spas. (More precisely, the five spas we’ve visited recently and loved.) Given that our former life was dedicated to writing about spas, you can take our picks pretty seriously.

While luxe details like bedding thread count make for good living, they don’t necessarily make for good reading. So we’re focusing on the top three awesomely memorable experiences at each of our five fantasy spas. Here’s today’s…


Cal A Vie feels like it’s run by perfectionists. So, not surprisingly, it’s where Hollywood celebs, Fortune 500 CEOs, and OC housewives come to get svelte and healthy.

Fitness is top notch, and tough. Food is calorie-restricted spa cuisine, customized just for you down to the broccoli spear. And even fashion’s a consideration, as workout clothes are provided for you. (Not Lululemon, though.)

And everyone gets treated like they’re Natalie Portman. (She was actually there when I visited.) —Melisse Gelula

The open-air spinning studio

1. Extra Special Attention
Cal A Vie hosts just 25 guests at a time, and they get tons of coddling. What makes this possible? A staff to guest ratio of 5:1. It’s not a stoop-and-bow kind of place, though. It’s just that the staff and kitchen actually puts your preferences to memory. Need a bowl of greens with every meal? Done. Need an eye mask to sleep well. Delivered! As one guest said to me, “I’ve been here five times, and they never say No.”

2. High-Intensity Workouts and Hikes
Every day starts with a hike, which builds in difficulty over the week, followed by back-to-back fitness classes. So you’re working out for about five hours in the morning, then everyone heads to the spa for treatments in the afternoon. Lots of spas use this formula, but what’s different here are all the high-intensity fitness options, like spinning, cardio sculpting, kickboxing, and power yoga—and how well the highly trained instructors carry them out.

spa tub
Soaking in a spa tub

3. The Place Looks Like Tuscany
Vista is in a secluded valley, just north of San Diego. And Cal A Vie is a private forested enclave of 200 acres, filled with hills. It truly resembles Italy more than Southern California. There are no neighbors for miles. The design of the spa and guest villas, with terracotta-tile roofs peeking up through the trees, reinforces the transporting idea that you could very well be in Tuscany.

The popular 4-night all-inclusive stay, includes 9 treatments, all fitness classes, and airport transfers from San Diego, $5,595. A week  866-SPA-HAVENS,