Ojai is a special place in Southern California with an earthy, artsy, authentic vibe. So it only fits that The Oaks at Ojai should reflect the same image as a spa destination. Which it does. If you're looking for upscale modern with austere and ultra luxury appointments, skip The Oaks. This place is down to earth, earnest, and honest in its goals to help you achieve yours. A taste of Old California only adds to the charm.
My daughters took me for a weekend retreat in August to celebrate a big birthday with healthy meals, workout classes, hikes, and mother-daughter bonding. From the moment we pulled off the highway, cruised onto the covered driveway, and walked through the double door entry, the ambience of Old California greeted us in the nostalgic style of Spanish stucco architecture.
Inside, the lobby spreads across a wide expanse of carpet where cushioned couches and a wood-framed upholstered chair perch aside a dark coffee table straight from the pages of Ramona. Flower arrangements decorate smaller tables, and a generous stucco and stone fireplace trimmed in Spanish tile complete the cozy sitting area. Off to the right, an antique-inspired wood counter serves as the check-in desk while a gift shop called The Nest with an arch-tiled entryway beckons on the left. Hallways with mission inspired arches lead to a gallery of stone sculptures and wall paintings straight ahead and to spa services and a comfy relaxation room behind the shop. An office and health center off the main lobby offer easy access for guests to approach staff ready to monitor blood pressure and weight during your stay.
From the side hallway off the lobby, we climbed stairs to reach our second floor corner room awash in light. The spacious location was a plus. The bathroom tile in black and white hexagons trimmed in 50's garish green reminded me of an early 70s apartment in Chicago. A small deck overlooking a side street of town gave us a view of locals. Paned windows on the front overlooked the main street where dozens of shop and gallery windows greeted us on an early morning walk. Two double beds and a rollaway bed fit with room to spare. The older bathroom design with a bathtub/shower combo, but only enough counter space for two sets of toiletries, sufficed since Betsy's cosmetic bag with its handy hook was perfect for hanging.
We found all the food quite good, sans salt and sugar, but with substitutes that worked well enough, except when it came to popcorn. There is no sufficient replacement for real butter and salt to satisfy the crunchy taste of well seasoned popcorn! Regardless, I somehow ate a whole bag during bingo, which awarded two of the three of us with winning games and prizes -- lotion and soap, plus two gift certificates for the shop. Note: The Oaks at Ojai offers recipes for their nutritional cuisine under the Blog item on their website menu: Recipes at The Oaks at Ojai.
At the end of the day, what I found most enjoyable was the relaxing time I spent with Betsy and Amy. But the friendly people we met were absolutely delightful, too. The staff were fabulous, with a shout out to Sherry who keeps the Libbey room running smoothly for meals and the bingo hopping along with Hollywood trivia questions between games! The mostly women guests were equally friendly and engaging. We met repeat customers from the Los Angeles area, new people from Portland, Seattle and Kansas City, and a mother with her eighteen-year-old daughter on their way to a college campus for the daughter's first year of college.