It’s a land of eternal sunshine and coastal beauty. Rolling hills and cliffside canyons with endless meandering trials. Organic farms, citrus orchards, and colorful blooms. Locals fill their days with early morning surf and SUP sessions, yoga, Pilates, mindful meditation and breathwork. Matcha lattes, Golden Milk, cold pressed juices, smoothies, alkaline water, acai bowls and bone broth fill the menus. Vuori, Lulu, Olukai, and UGGs are de riguer. Acupuncture, Vitamin IVs, massage and reiki sessions are not seen as a luxury but rather as critical self-care for rejuvenation and relaxation. Take note as these crazy Californians are onto something.
Don’t forget they cracked the DNA code in San Diego, so it’s no wonder this region is championing the integration of bio tech and holistic healing to usher into a new wave of wellness, longevity and antidotes to stress. Where else can you sit in front of a BioCharger that emanates energy waves to detox and invigorate your cells while listening to a breathwork meditation, or pedal on stationary bike powered by Artificial Intelligence with pure oxygen flowing into your mask, or receive a Vitamin-infused IV while getting a pedicure?
Some of the country’s best spas and cutting-edge fitness experiences can be found in San Diego and Orange County. No wonder spa-goers and vacationers flock to this sunny SoCal clime for a healthy dose of Vitamin D, digital detoxing, restoration and a chance to recharge your life.
Featured Photo: Courtesy of Rhiannon Taylor
Gazing at the picture-perfect stone chapel with its red-tiled roof, you can’t help but to feel like you’ve been transported to the French countryside of Provence — with the lavender-kissed landscape, grapevine patchwork and pops of colorful bougainvillea in view. While the 200-acre Cal-a-Vie is nestled above San Diego in the sleepy rolling hills of Vista, its clientele jets in from around the globe as this destination spa is a magical portal to wellness. Guests can luxuriate for 3-, 4-, 5- or 7-night stays that include, 160+ fitness classes, mindfulness and mind/body sessions, hiking, world-class golf, lectures, soulful spa therapies and garden-fresh gourmet cuisine paired with estate’s own wine from the grapes grown onsite. With a 5-to-1 staff to guest ratio, elevated service and pampering abounds.
After leaving the comforts of your private villa, your morning commences with stretching and movement whether you prefer an energetic hike or relaxing stroll through the gardens. Guests can curate their days with aqua circuits, personal trainers, CBD Himalayan coffee wraps, sound bowl meditations, trapeze yoga, pickleball, jewelry making, nutrition classes, meditative strolls in the stone labyrinth and stargazing with a professional astronomer in the new observatory.
The owners, Francophiles originally from New Orleans, have filled the estate with inimitable antiques and even offer an onsite shop for take home treasures they have collected from around the globe. Their commitment to Old World aesthetics and authentic architecture is also reflected in the 400-year old Chapel, imported from Dijon, France, and painstakingly rebuilt piece by piece on property, which now serves as the meditation center. Rotating themed weeks fill the calendar like Mom & Teens, Staying Youthful While Aging, and Mental Fitness: Mindset Matters — truly something for everyone.
San Marcos, CA
Behind the bejeweled golden doors, a holistic sanctuary like no other awaits. Fashioned after a Kyoto country inn, here you’ll find bamboo forests, koi ponds, finely raked sand gardens and museum-quality Japanese art. But this Zen sanctuary goes beyond being a pampering spa, as for many a visit here means a life-altering experience, a perfect chance to rejuvenate and reset one’s path. Remarkably much of the clientele (60%) are repeat customers willing to dole out $11,000 for a wellness week. So what’s the secret golden elixir?
The Golden Door offers a perfect blend of mind/body/spirit experiences: meditative silent hikes, mountaintop Tai Chi in the morning sun, shaman rituals, reiki, yoga and sound healings in the treetop studio, Soul Vision board making and more. When it’s time to move and sweat you can try TRX or find your rhythm in a Broadway show tunes dance class with a Hollywood choreographer. Each night a fan is placed on your pillow with the following day’s bespoke experiences, curated just for you whether it’s an Ayurvedic massage, Watsu water therapy, a rosemary-infused herbal wrap or a fencing class.
Look for Chef Greg Frey in the biodynamic gardens pulling produce or tending his bee hives. His California fresh cuisine favors hyper local sourcing with orchards and organic gardens on property and chicken coops for fresh morning eggs. You’ll sip the famed potassium broth and crave the ginger honey tea long after you’ve returned home.
Newly added is the Golden Flight, a private airline service to and from the Door featuring a wellness kit, personalized meals, guided meditation and in-flight stretch videos to set the tone for your stay. If you are seeking shelter from the daily noise and chaos of life, this idyllic refuge is the perfect place to quiet the mind and dig deep.
Four Moons Spa
North County San Diego’s coolest holistic haven, tucked away in the coastal surf town of Leucadia, radiates as a spiritual vortex with exceptional therapists in a boho-chic setting. Think Balinese Bales (bungalows) and koi ponds with gurgling waterfalls, lounge-y daybeds and airy bright yoga rooms, and cottages with acupuncturists, naturopaths, energy healers and an aromatic apothecary. Their new Hammam Bathing Ritual is a perfect antidote to stress as you lie on the heated marble slab enjoying a body wash with Turkish olive soap, followed by a papaya and bamboo exfoliation to stimulate the lymph system.
After a warm water rinse, a hydrating mineral mask is applied from head to toe. Cocooned, you’ll melt into a meditative state while receiving foot reflexology, scalp tension release and a facial massage with lovely Eminence stonecrop oil. After a final rinse you’ll float out the door altered and energetically ready for a tarot or spirit reading.
Four Moons also rolls out the mats for Thai massage where a practitioner stretches the body and walks gently on the back, or you can opt for a prenatal or lymphatic drainage body work. After, soak in the outdoor seawater tub then further detox in the infrared sauna. Get your glow on with the famed Blood Moon PRP (Vampire) facial that uses your own blood plasma or try “Notox” facial rejuvenation with the acupuncturist’s adept placement of needles and massage.
Four Moons is naturally on trend with the NAD IV Therapy that supplies the body with the energy it needs to heal on a cellular level and is said to promote longevity. Marvelously, you can get your healing drip while relaxing during an organic facial. Wellness gatherings also include naturopath doctor talks, group acupuncture, sound bathing rituals, full moon circles, and more.
High vibration healers and the best therapists flock to this female co-founded and locally owned spiritual center as it’s the best kept secret in town.
More Wellness Oases in San Diego
This hacienda-style hideaway, a terracotta and tile paradise, is the ultimate place for a day spa experience with yoga and stretch classes in their open air pavilion, an outdoor hydrocircut, pool-side cabana lunches and divine treatments from Franco-luxe Biologique Rochere facials to citrus body polishes and EMSCULPT Neo, a noninvasive body shaping therapy.
This Euro-chic resort invites guests to relax and rejuvenate in their Forbes Five-Star elegant spa spa where you can enjoy a gentleman’s facial, aromatic body wrap, or hydrotherapy and then lounge by the adults-only pool savoring a healthy spa lunch.
This seminal spa, opened in 1940, sits just over the border in Tecate, Mexico. You’ll find 86 casitas on 4,000 private acres of gardens, mountains and meadows, an oasis for hiking, fitness classes, healthy cooking classes and mind/body experiences.
There’s something about the brilliant sun and inviting beaches of Orange County that makes people want to look and feel their best. Taking a cue from their northern neighbors in Hollywood, the OC’s wealthier denizens have never been shy about embracing the latest modes of self-improvement, but they also understand the need to hang loose and luxuriate in their spectacular surroundings. Here’s where you can join them for a memorable wellness getaway.
The Pacific Ocean and its spectacular shoreline inspire everything from spa treatments and wellness activities to dining and excursions at this blufftop resort in Laguna Beach’s elite Dana Point community.
In the Ritz-Carlton spa’s 12 rooms with soothing aqua and beige hues, treatments incorporate sea salt, minerals, water and other ocean ingredients. Start with the Laguna Wellness Experience, which includes a seaweed body wrap, a marine collagen facial mask and a customized massage. Once refreshed, keep on the right track with complimentary daily yoga and Pilates classes in the fitness center, where floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the ocean, or outdoor yoga.
A winding walkway from the lobby leads downhill to the beach, with shuttle service also available; once there, a beach butler provides umbrellas, towels and chairs for relaxing on the sand. Guests can also exercise their brains on a complimentary, invigorating sea walk or intertidal hike. Led by naturalists, the beach strolls focus on wildlife and conservation of the local ecosystem.
For healthful eating, head to Raya, the resort’s Latin-themed restaurant created by chef Richard Sandoval, featuring sustainable seafood, organic meats and plentiful vegan and vegetarian fare with Dana Point produce. Or stop by the Market Place for organic braised kale, quinoa and other fast-casual options.
The Resort at Pelican Hill
It’s easy to believe you’re on a Mediterranean retreat at this Newport Beach sanctuary, where Palladian-style bungalows and villas with red-tiled roofs share a 504-acre hilltop compound with dazzling ocean views and groves of olive, fig and cypress trees.
The sprawling Coliseum Pool and its luxurious cabanas provide an elevated way to soak in the SoCal sun, while treatments at the Spa at Pelican Hill allow use of the Roman-inspired Acqua Colonnade, a collection of saltwater soaking tubs, saunas and herbal steam rooms. The spa uses only natural ingredients, such as the sea algae and rosemary shea butter in its signature Coastal Renewal body treatment, and the Laurel Skin Curated Skin Ritual Facial, which uses the plant-based products of Petaluma-based Laurel Skin.
The Event Lawn hosts complimentary daily fitness classes, including a variety of yoga specialties and mat Pilates, with an entrancing ocean vista. The resort’s free beach trolley whisks guests to the nearby 3-mile-long Crystal Cove State Beach; adjacent Crystal Cove State Park offers more than 15 miles of backcountry trails and a 2.5-mile paved blufftop trail.
For healthful dining, room service will deliver dishes like kale Caesar salad and cauliflower fried rice, while guests in villas can whip up their favorite dishes in a gourmet kitchen.
Montage Laguna Beach
When it debuted in 2003, the flagship property for Montage Hotels & Resorts set the brand’s retreat vibe with its 20,000-square-foot spa, three pools and all ocean-view rooms and suites. Two decades later, the recently renovated resort still leads the way with its comprehensive spa and wellness programming and a wealth of outdoor activities on its 30 oceanfront acres, four nearby beaches and nearby wilderness areas.
Maximizing the ocean view with floor-to-ceiling windows, the spa complex holds 12 massage rooms, four facial treatment rooms, two hydrotherapy rooms and three specialty indoor/outdoor rooms ideal for a couples’ massage. It also includes an adults-only lap pool, well-appointed fitness room with weights and machines, a yoga studio and separate locker rooms for men and women. There guests can unwind in a relaxation room with fireplace, warm up in a steam room, sauna, or outdoor Jacuzzi, or for the non-faint of heart, dip into a cold plunge.
To feel the vibe even more, book the California Wildflower Ritual, which begins with full-body, muscle-relaxing vibrational work, adds a massage with heated herbal poultices and concludes with an orange soufflé body wrap, a foot massage with scrub, and gentle vibrations on the feet. montagehotels.com
More Wellness Oases in the OC
The 175-acre seaside resort on Dana Point in Laguna Beach provides 40 weekly fitness classes, including aerial yoga and guided beach hikes, along with seasonally inspired spa treatments.
Smart Fit Method
Cardiff + Costa Mesa
This concierge-style wellness and workout program, founded by San Diegan father-son duo, Rob and Connor Darnbrough, offers personalized training using machines powered by robotics and Artificial Intelligence. Efficient and effective, the Smart Fit Method focuses on building muscle mass, bone density, and cardiovascular strength using four cutting-edge machines. And get this: three weekly, 20-minute sessions deliver the same physiological response as five to seven hours of traditional workouts.
The Vesper, developed in conjunction with NASA and a spinal rehab center, is a recumbent elliptical where biceps and quads are wrapped in cold pressurized cuffs to increase muscle building and repair without the wear and tear on the joints. And keeping the body cool while exercising means no oxygen is wasted.
High intensity sprints on The Carol, an AI stationary bike, depletes 90% of glycogen in the working muscles so the second protocol: 30, eight second sprints at 80% of your max heart rate, burns fat nine times more efficiently compared to running or jogging. Add in a Live02 oxygen mask for EWOT (exercise with oxygen therapy) that toggles between both low and high levels of oxygen to drive metabolic efficiency, and you supercharge the experience even more.
The ARX is the safest and most effective strength training machine in the industry. Post-workout, members sit together swapping wellness tips around the pulsating BioCharger which reverses cellular aging with its PEMF waves. Every 28 days a full body scan holds clients accountable and reveals real body recomposition as fat is reduced and lean muscle mass increases.
The SFM Flagship studio overlooks the Pacific in Cardiff by the Sea, just north of San Diego, and outposts are popping up all over the SoCal region including La Jolla and Costa Mesa in Orange County. Undoubtedly a rapid expansion up the coast will follow as this AI-infused workout is disrupting the industry.