Cal-a-Vie a Spa Haven

Health spa Cal-a-Vie is one of the county’s best-kept secrets.

Perched among whispering canyons and voluptuous vistas unfurling themselves as far as the eye can see is the best-kept secret in North County. The Spa-Havens, otherwise known as Cal-a-Vie, is a Vista area resort and retreat spread over 220 acres of luscious vegetation and undulating hills. This health spa extraordinaire awaits three-, four- and seven-night guests, all arriving to reinvigorate mind, body and soul. The beauty of the place is nearly heart-stopping, except that, in a flash, it is compelled to beat again—and regularly, as guests sign up for regimens that will transform their being.

“It is all about the program, to unleash the passion of exercise,” quipped marketing director Lin Alvarez. For more than 26 years, the program has been perfected to include an ideal combination of workout and exercise offerings, along with both conventional and exotic treatments.

“Guests fill out a questionnaire about goals and desires for their stay upon arrival. Typically, there is a fitness evaluation, weigh-in and blood tests, if guests choose, to identify any sensitivities or allergies,” Alvarez said. Then, they receive a specially designed program for their visit here.”

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Guests begin their day in The Forum, a focal-point for meetings, classes, workouts and the Great Room, an overlarge room gazing out on tranquil lily pads lit by the sun glistening off the water. “Each day begins at 6:30 a.m., when guests receive their program for that day,” Alvarez explained. Some guests may hike the hills on the 23 acres of developed trails snaking their way through the canyon. Others may start with a round of golf on neighboring Vista Valley Golf Course.

“We are always adding new classes, looking for cutting-edge workout styles based on what guests want,” Alvarez continued. Indeed, mainstay classes include a wide variety of Pilates, an ample amount of workout equipment—from weights to bikes to treadmills—or—selecting from numerous Tai Chi and yoga offerings. Cal-a-Vie has recently even introduced an underwater spinning class and a hydro-rider class, always with an eye for the next innovation. In addition, the resort boasts a clay tennis court and two swimming pools.

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 “People come with different goals,” Alvarez said. But what all guests have in common is a desire to restart and rejuvenate themselves through an intensive workout, treatment and meditative-style getaway from the grind of daily life. All the food is organic, with meals consisting of tasty and nutritious dietary combinations of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs, lean meats and fish, all presented with gourmet flair.

The days are filled with numerous activities. “Actually, people spend little time in their room. By 3 p.m. the first day, guests want to know ‘what’s next,’” Alvarez said. “They’ve already recognized a transformation has taken place.” says Alvarez. Following morning exercises comes afternoon treatments like a seaweed wrap, massage or a hot stone foot treatment, then dinner at 7 p.m., with evenings inviting fireside chats or local musicians performing in the Great Room.

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All of this rejuvenation is not to be eclipsed by Cal-a-Vie’s physical beauty. Owned and developed by John and Terri Havens of Houston, Texas, the resort’s design displays an unmistakable French motif. Terri Havens said she wanted to recreate as much of the tranquil French countryside feeling as possible. Indeed, the Forum’s Great Room is constructed with reclaimed wood, brick and stone and includes gorgeous tapestries and art throughout. Furnishings are exquisite with intimate seated groupings designed to draw one into conversation or solitary reflection.

Guests stay in one of the 32 villas on the property, equally designed with the same impeccable elegance. Equipped with a king-sized bed and finely-crafted furnishings, no detail is left unacknowledged or need unmet. “We even had a 400-year-old French chapel brought over and reconstructed brick by brick,” states Alvarez. “Guests can rent out the entire spa for weddings or any other themed get-together like a family reunion,” she adds.

An exquisite combination of comfort and style, revitalization through rest and restorative exercise, Cal-a-Vie truly takes your breath away.