Vivian's Corner
United States
Adventure & Sports
Pot  Pourri
About Us
Yearly Index
Contact Us
Cal-a-Vie, Vista California

Celebrity Spa

"Do real men do spas?" was the question posed by the narrator as the camera filmed Eddie Cibrian during a spa holiday. Cibrian, who appeared in Sunset Beach, initially was reticent about admitting his whereabouts while being interviewed for a 1997 E Channel special, "Celebrity Spas." His concerns focused on what his friends would think about his choice for a vacation hideaway, but soon he was seen not only enjoying hikes and yoga, but seaweed wraps and facials, too. The footage took the viewer all over the world, from a health farm in England, to hot springs in Iceland, to water treatments in the South of France and to a newly-built property in the Canadian Rockies. However, the spa that was given the most coverage was Cal-a-Vie. Located in Southern California on a 150-acre estate, it is the smallest luxury spa in the United States. No more than 24 guests, living in separate cottages, are hosted each Sunday to Sunday session.

Water exercise, Cal-a-Vie

Founder William Power, a hospital builder and administrator, and his wife, Marlene, started the fitness facility 12 years ago after traveling the world to visit health retreats. Although an occasional men's week was scheduled in the early days, the guests were almost exclusively women. In 1998 about three-quarters of the sessions will be coed. Not only are men enthusiastically embracing Cal-a-Vie as a destination for a respite from world weariness, they are coveting the experience in the same gung ho manner that women take to it. Marlene Power explained that some male guests are in their 30s, but the median age is 48 and the years between 50 to 55 are times of high stress. Oddly, men like the fact that being a spa guest is a bonding and non-competitive experience. They may not be skilled in aerobics or some of the other activities, but they are encouraged to work on a personal program and definite goals. Most aim for a lifestyle change that they can live with.

During coed weeks about one-third of the guests are men, who may or may not be married and might or might not be accompanied by a spouse. Even if couples come together they are given their own private villa next to one another. The philosophy is that each person needs his own space. Mrs. Power said that she has observed that marital relationships improve and that husbands and wives become closer, laugh more and are kinder to their mates after going through the program.

Most guests arrive without any significant luggage. One of the great levelers here is that they choose to wear the spa's sweats, tee-shirts, shorts and robes, even appearing at dinner in the ubiquitous gray uniform. Anyone who can afford the tab has, of course, achieved success. The powerful and famous are especially happy with the low-keyed setting.

Architecturally Cal-a-Vie is much like a small village in Tuscany or Provence. Constructed from creamy salmon stucco with roofs of rust-colored fluted tiles, the buildings sit snugly in a valley under a crest of purplish mountains. Also etched into the gently sloping grass-covered terrain are beds of blossoms blazing in riotous colors and a bubbling pool dammed up in a rocky enclosure.

The day is structured to stress the body in the morning and rebalance it in the afternoon. Men and women are given similar schedules and individual needs are considered even during the crack-of-dawn hike. Depending on your level of energy at 6 a.m. you can take the low road on the golf course or the high one over the hills. Approximately eight activities appear on the daily rosters, which are distributed at breakfast. Classes include warm-ups, aerobic circuit, cardio training, step and slide, body contour and shaping, abdominals, boxercise, water works, stretching, yoga, meditation and tai chi. Afternoons are devoted to European-style body care, such as facials, thalasso and hydrotherapy, hair, scalp, foot and hand treatments, reflexology and a daily massage.

Using a state-of-the-art Microfit Health and Fitness System, all guests receive a fitness evaluation. The computerized assessment of body fat, heart rate, blood pressure, flexibility, strength and cholesterol and the results of a questionnaire are integrated into a wellness profile. Based on the findings, a staff member makes positive suggestions for continued health maintenance

Cal-a-Vie got a lot of publicity when Oprah Winfrey hired away its chef, Rosie Daley, but the cuisine hasn't suffered in the least. If we could all eat so well at home, none of us would have any weight problems. The kitchen produces beautiful and tasty meals minus salt, sugar and fat. Steve Pernetti, who now oversees the menus, likes to cook Italian food and is particularly adept at reducing calories in pizzas and pastas. Everyone seems very pleased with the meals and snacks. Men on a weight loss regime receive between 1400 and 1700 calories a day, which is increased if requested. On checkout day they are on the average about eight pounds lighter.

Cal-a-Vie, 2249 Somerset Road, Vista, CA 93084. Tel. 760-945-2055. www.cal-a-vie.com

Rates are $4,350 plus room tax for 7 days and include 16 treatments. Summer and special rate weeks are $3,950.

Winter 1997-98