Discover California’s Must-Visit Self-Care Hot Spots


Photos courtesy of Cal-a-Vie Health Spa.

Tucked away in the rolling hills of northern San Diego County, on over 200 acres of French countryside–inspired landscape, Cal-a-Vie enchants guests with its laid-back luxury and European flair.

Upon their arrival at this secluded enclave, guests will appreciate the way the striking setting immediately invokes a sense of calm. A towering windmill, sprawling vineyards, and a 400-year-old chapel that Francophile owners John and Terri Havens painstakingly shipped in from Dijon, France (an idyllic setting for the yoga and meditation classes), instantly transport you to a quaint village in France.

Destinations with such a strong sense of place can be the most transformative. Whether you’re looking to ignite your commitment to health or simply revel in endless spoils designed for lavish renewal, Cal-a-Vie has reigned as the ultimate destination spa for more than 30 years.

Choose from three-, four-, or seven-day stays, which include three daily farm-to-table meals, plush terracotta tile–studded villas decked out in Provençal decor, unlimited fitness classes, daily morning hikes, cooking demos, one-on-one nutritional consultations, and a barrage of decadent spa treatments.

Mindful art and creative practices at Cal-a-Vie Health Spa.

With the goal of tailoring each guest’s experience around personal passions and goals, a one-on-one meeting is scheduled at the beginning of the visit. There are no rules here—your stay can be anything you desire. Take a deep, vigorous dive into the vast array of fitness options and schedule additional health and nutritional assessments, or lounge in a bathrobe while gazing at the sun-drenched mountains from your private patio, followed by an indulgent afternoon of scalp massages, vinothérapie treatments (utilizing the organic skincare line crafted from grape skins, seeds, and pulp from the property’s vineyards), and a session of chakra-balancing acupuncture.

Each day in this beguiling paradise begins with a sunrise walk or hike at 6:15 a.m., with the option of a morning stacked with an astonishing variety of group fitness class- es—everything from various forms of Pilates and barre to cardio circuits, an 18-hole golf course, TRX, swimming (in the Olympic-length pool), meditation, and a variety of yoga practices. The offerings are vast—over 100 different classes—and inspiring. Chances are you haven’t tried the majority of workouts, but if ever there was a time to dabble in something new and beneficial, this is it.

Of course, the elegant chef-prepared, calorie-conscious meals, including both vegetarian and vegan delicacies, are seamlessly staggered throughout the day, and snacks and spa treatments are aplenty. Recent menus have featured chicken kebabs with Greek salad, hummus, and flatbread. Fortunately, your sweet tooth will not be ignored; there’s even chocolate cake with strawberry sorbet and lemon blueberry cupcakes for dessert.

Dining is communal-style, and there are no pretensions here. Many guests even slip into sweats or bathrobes during mealtime, and it’s an opportunity to connect and share in the wonderment, and perhaps learn about an intriguing new exercise to test out during your stay.


Montage Laguna Beach Resort.

Close proximity to ocean breezes and falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing on the shore is always therapeutic. Beachfront bliss such as this is easily found at Montage Laguna Beach. Perched atop a cliff with majestic views of the coast framed by swaying palms, this seaside sanctuary envelops visitors in the quintessential California lifestyle.

Given the property is a resort hotel, wellness offerings are personally customized through the team at the 20,000-square-foot Spa Montage, and can be highly scheduled or relaxed. Visits begin with a consultation in which the staff recommends specialized treatments and fitness training based on the needs of each guest. The spa’s InBody composition analysis machine helps determine the internal condition of the body to help set goals.

An invigorating day in paradise kicks off with deep cleansing breaths
of the salty air during the daily beach walk. The fitness splendour doesn’t end there—book private training sessions in the ocean-view gym, try out a SurfSET class (on an indoor surfboard), vinyasa yoga flow or beach boot camp class, swim laps in the adults-only pool, or venture outdoors for instructor-led hikes, surfing, and biking, all available through the resort’s Compass Sports program. This is a coastal community, and taking advantage of the abundance of outdoor recreation is essential for both physical and mental clarity.

Culinary delights at Studio restaurant, Montage Laguna Beach.

Wherever the day takes you, luxuriating amid the pristine confines of Spa Montage is a well-deserved extravagance. The private outdoor lounge flanked by tropical plants, a waterfall Jacuzzi, steam room, and dry redwood sauna beckons. Indulge in an Elements of Wellness Experience, where a master therapist utilizes aromatherapy soaks, rain-shower therapies, and fine-tuned bodywork techniques for a deeply tailored and restorative treatment. Pampering takes on new meaning with one of the lavish and deeply moisturizing facials by Valmont, one of Europe’s most esteemed anti-ageing skincare brands, exclusive to the spa.

While there aren’t set calorie-counted menus at Montage, Mosaic Bar and Grille and The Loft prepare many health-conscious meals, and can tailor any dish to guests’ preferences. Not to be missed is the garden menu at the property’s Studio restaurant on the edge of the Pacific—the heart of fine dining in Laguna. Incorporating herbs and vegetables grown in the on-site garden, chef Ben Martinek has crafted a wildly tasty and inventive six-course vegetarian tasting menu giving glory to nature’s lively bounty.


MacArthur Place Hotel and Spa.

Vineyard-covered farmlands emit a soothing energy conducive to instant relaxation. Nestled in the heart of wine country, MacArthur Place is a haven for those seeking a soulful getaway. Spanning six acres, the sophisticated farmhouse setting, with its winding pathways and outdoor gathering spaces, oozes charm and tranquility.

From the amenities in the sumptuous accommodations (Grown Alchemist toiletries and Petite Amie Skincare facial sheet masks at turndown) to the thoughtful assortment of healthy grab-and-go snacks and sundries at The Porch marketplace, wellness abounds at every inch of the boutique property.

While you may find it challenging to peel yourself away from such an inviting setting, this is the time to revel in the surroundings. Hop on one of the hotel’s electric Blix bikes for a spin around town, along with a stop or two at the neighbouring celebrated wineries, or stroll to the historic plaza and admire the Spanish Revival–style architecture. And, with thousands of miles of hiking trails in the area, there’s something for all levels.

Bohemian Highway Travel Co. Excursions.

Afternoons here call for distinct and mellow endeavours. Swap wine-sipping for tea-tasting back on the property with Sonoma-based UppercaseTea, where you’ll engage in the art of a tea ceremony and learn to identify flavours and aromas of single-estate, organic, whole-leaf tea. The healing properties of tea continue into The Spa at MacArthur, which has recently introduced the Anti-Aging Tea Treatment, featuring a tealeaf-infused scrub and massage designed to uplift and enlighten. For a more detoxifying treatment, the Wine Country Detox incorporates a dry-brush exfoliation, seaweed wrap, and essential-oil massage. Foster further sensory awakening with private sessions of yoga and meditation that may be booked through the concierge.

With a range of wholesome yet flavourful fare, it’s easy to be mindful of eating light here. Organic ingredients and locally sourced, Mediterranean-inspired menu selections take centre stage at Layla Restaurant under the guidance of executive chef Cole Dickinson, who will fine-tune any dish to your preference.

Whether you escape to one of these three Shangri-Las for a weekend, a full seven days, or even longer, you’ll depart with a liberating sense of renewal and a newfound appreciation for slowing down.