A New You—Inside & Out

One of the country’s most sought-after destination health spas combines luxurious European spa philosophies with state-of-the-art technology to take fitness, health, and nutrition to an unprecedented level. Gentry Destination’s Corry Cook explores the latest trends at the renowned Cal-a-Vie.

End-of-summer blues and the back-to-school push can leave even the most vibrant people a little less fabulous. There are endless reasons to disappear for the weekend for a little tune-up, tune-out time. One thing is for sure: whether you stay three days or three months, a custom Cal-a-Vie spa experience will leave you confident and glowing, inside and out.

Upon arrival at Cal-a-Vie, you know you’re someplace special. Your stay is designed to be a healthy, relaxing, and most enjoyable retreat—more like a visit to a fabulous friend’s home in France than a spa. The property features 32 Mediterranean-style villas, including six suites set over 500 private acres of Northern San Diego. The three-, four-, and seven-night packages include gourmet spa cuisine, fitness classes, beauty and spa treatments, and far more.

The French Provencal spa is embellished throughout with French artwork and antiques, as well as historical pieces and antiques from Europe. The all-inclusive programs focus on invigorating fitness, restorative mind-body balancing, and luxurious spa and salon treatments. With a 5:1 staff-to-guest ratio, an 18-hole golf course, a 400-year-old chapel, and a l’orangerie from Dijon, France, it’s no wonder proprietors Terry and John Havens have a fiercely loyal following of return customers from California and around the world.

Days at Cal-a-Vie progress naturally: the beloved 6:30 am hike occurs daily without fail, evolving into more challenging offerings, all before lunch. With more than 160 fitness classes, hiking, and golf, guests pick and choose their own active itineraries, effortlessly moving between pavilions with French signage, sweet waterfalls, and crystal chandeliers overhead. Outside, nature embraces you in every direction, from the tree-filled hillsides to the vineyards to the occasional lizard or humming bird whizzing by.

Post-lunch is a dreamy time of rest and relaxation followed by beauty treatments. My own bliss began at the Bath House, which offers over 75 body and skin therapies and an antioxidant-rich organic line of skincare products harvested from the Cal-a-Vie vineyards. The Vichy Body Scrub includes invigorating and foaming bubbles and waves of water to wash away fatigue and prepare your skin for a body polish infused with Blue Chamomile and organic lavender from Southern France. Your baby-soft skin is then hydrated with a penetrating cream that moisturizes with ingredients such as neroli, chamomile, lavender, and tangerine.

Here’s a look at what else is hot down at Cal-a-Vie…


Embracing clean eating entirely, or just exploring a new approach to intake, can be a lot of fun—seriously. Executive Chef Curtis Cooke, along with the property’s culinary gardener, coordinates a most impressive farm-to-table operation. Creating my own gluten-free Pescatarian regime for my stay was a surprising delight and absolutely delicious, leaving my body feeling light and fresh and oil infused. I’m still dreaming of my grilled salmon pizza with pesto, black olives, and mushrooms, along with fresh greens and garden vegetables, followed by a delightful little martini glass filled with a dab of pistachio ice cream.


If you haven’t thought to put the words “stem cell” and “facial” in the same sentence, you haven’t yet visited Cal-a-Vie. The resort’s one-of-a-kind stem cell facial utilizes growth factors to replace damaged collagen and elastin fibers. The process stimulates the skin’s ability to protect and renew itself, as potent antioxidants work their rebuilding and revitalizing magic. Skin texture will quickly begin to appear smooth, supple, firmer, and more resilient. Need a little boost? Dermal fillers, Botox, and microneedling services are on hand, as well as Kybella injections to reduce fat from the chin, armpit, and jowl areas.


Cal-a-Vie has partnered with Dr. Sarah Corey, N.D., an expert in injectable nutrition therapies and natural medicine, to provide its guests with premium prescription-grade vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. A neuropathic medical doctor, Corey is the founder of Coastal Health Concierge, a membership-based medical practice in San Diego. With names such as “The Waist Whittler,” “Energizer Bunny,” and “Pain ‘B’ Gone,” the treatments, administered intramuscularly, promote stress relief, weight loss support, and increased energy.


Personal attention and state-of-the-art technology mean more tools to address your weight, strength, and body composition goals. The STYKU Body Scan assembles a 3D model of your body from over 600 infrared images taken in seconds, in order to analyze everything from posture to aerobic capacity to muscle imbalances.


Water is great for the skin, digestion, and even weight loss. It provides energy, hydrates the cells, and improves muscle and nerve function while carrying important nutrients to the body. For H2O addicts, Cal-a-Vie’s water-infused treatments and fitness offerings are second to none and accessible to any age, body type, or fitness level. Check out Aqua Sculpt or “Poolates” in one of the two gorgeous pools, or push yourself through a Triathlon Water Workout that combines swimming, running, and cycling in the water. Of course, vacation is vacation, so be sure to indulge in multiple trips to the Bath House for steam and hydro-body treatments. The Watsu Aquatic Massage, for one, is not to be missed. Float comfortably and fully supported in a pool of warm water while a therapist gently glides your body through a series of movements, softening muscles, stretching tissues, and opening energy pathways.


As beautiful as Cal-a-Vie is during the day, it is even more spectacular at night. So it’s no surprise that astro-tourism has burst on the scene at the resort. In 2018, Cal-a-Vie unveiled a larger-than-life stargazing experience for guests, the “Celestial Experience,” in which guest presenters host guided “tours” of the cosmos. We have it on good authority that the stars shine even brighter when you view them with a glass of wine in hand.

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