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Wellness Retreats: California Dreaming

Change those get-fit resolutions from dream to reality with a stint at one of these serene spots...

Change those get-fit resolutions from dream to reality with a stint at one of these serene spots.

The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu

Malibu, Calif.           

Owners Sue and Alex Glasscock’s paean to healthful living is nestled in Southern California’s Santa Monica Mountains. Here, guests may stay for up to four weeks (a minimum of six nights, seven days is required) in 16 tastefully rustic cottages as they reboot their basic routines with the goals of enhanced health, mental recalibration, and weight loss. The secluded 120-acre property is ideal for the Ranch’s many high-profile clients, but also for the kind of spiritual renewal driven by the natural beauty of its chaparral covered hills and nearby Pacific Ocean. Days begin early with dawn sun salutations and stretching, followed by a healthy breakfast and a four- to five-hour daily hike with wilderness guides. Afternoon group classes include weight training, core toning, and yoga with experienced trainers. After a workday’s worth of exercise, relaxation is welcomed beside the picturesque pool or with daily massages given by sought-after therapists. Chef Alexx Guevara culls much of the produce used in his creative and gourmet vegetarian cuisine from the property’s extensive gardens. Portions are satiating in flavor, texture, and quantity, even as calories meet a strict 1,400 per day. Organic meals are served at a communal dining table to each small group, and guests may take cooking lessons with the chef. High-tech body assessments help participants see the real results of their active, healthy weeks in this place of tranquil transformation. Cell phone reception is elusive and there are no televisions in the rooms, although computers are available. The Ranch also offers its 4.0 wellness program—in partnership with the nearby Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village and the California Health & Longevity Institute—for those who desire a more plugged-in experience and can escape for only a long weekend. ($6,500 per person per week) 310.457.8700, theranchmalibu.com

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Bacara Resort & Spa
Santa Barbara, Calif.

Santa Barbara’s Bacara Resort & Spa has partnered with Sky Ranch Fitness to offer weeklong wellness transformations that go beyond a mere boot camp. Guests enjoy the resort’s plush accommodations, newly renovated spa, and coastal location while Sky Ranch owner Stuart Gildred revamps their shape and fitness. All meals—delicious and healthful—are created by Bacara’s culinary team to optimize participants’ goals. Each day commences with a light breakfast at the spa café, followed by a hike in the nearby mountains or a brisk walk. A favorite trek is McMenemy trail, with views overlooking the Santa Barbara Riviera and harbor; an exercise physiologist accompanies the group to instruct on proper technique to avoid injury and maximize fitness. Gildred’s staff—with an approximate ratio of one trainer to three guests—can customize the program to individual needs, whether participants have never been very active or seek to push past a plateau. Activities grow more strenuous as the week progresses. Guests take classes in TRX, yoga, Pilates, Spinning, and strength training and enjoy spa treatments throughout the week, from massage to a decadent mud bar. Afternoon free time allows for lounging by one of the resort’s pools or “European” sunbathing on the private roof deck. The week culminates with a wine dinner at a local vineyard and the revealing of results. Gildred says most participants lose several inches of waistline and between five and 10 pounds. “My goal is to go beyond one’s expectations at every opportunity,” he says. “My philosophy is to empower people to improve their quality of life by demonstrating how enjoyable it should be to exercise and eat healthfully.” One-on-one sessions with exercise and nutrition specialists help guests take what they learn at Bacara back home with them. (from $4,600 per person per six-day program) 805.252.1498, bacararesort.com

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Calistoga Ranch
Napa Valley, Calif.

Fight mental stress with physical fitness over the weekend of February 21 at this 157-acre resort just 90 minutes from San Francisco. The boot camp weekend includes a blend of strength training, core conditioning, flexibility, and balance exercises, as well as cardiovascular work. Guests stay in elegantly appointed stand-alone lodges, and may book their own spa treatments or relax in private soaking tubs at the property’s Auberge Spa. As Calistoga Ranch is the only resort in Napa with its own vineyard, experiencing the winemaking process is a must, whether by learning the art of pruning in the field or sipping in the wine cave carved deep into the hillside. For activities beyond the program, hiking and cycling trails abound, or try a wine cave meditation session. ($150 per person per day, excluding room fees) 707.254.2800, calistogaranch.com


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