Groups like California destinations for the sunshine, the cultural offerings, the food and the outdoors. While world-class spas have always factored into the mix of California attractions, two urban resorts that cater to groups incorporate their own not-to-be-missed spas.
The Claremont Resort & Spa, nestled in a quiet Berkeley neighborhood in the Oakland Hills overlooking the San Francisco Bay, and La Costa Resort and Spa, just north of San Diego in Carlsbad, have been considerably spruced up under new management. Both hotels now feature extensive and sophisticated spa facilities.
At the 20,000-square-foot Spa Claremont, an imaginative menu of treatments is available in 32 individual rooms. Massage options go way beyond the usual shiatsu, Swedish, and sports varieties to include options such as Tibetan sound massage: a combination of traditional kneading techniques with vibrating bowls placed at different points on the body. The Ayurvedic rebalancing treatment involves exfoliation with exotic herbs and hot essential oils, a hot-oil drip on the forehead, deep scalp massage and treatment, and pressure-point face massage. Packages of treatments, such as the Thai Journey and the Mayan Temple Journey, are designed to reduce stress and foster wellness. Hotel guests also have access to the Club at the Claremont, a well-equipped private fitness club with swimming pools and tennis courts. For a real challenge, the hotel also has its own ropes course, which is available for group activities.
For groups that need to get some business done, the 279-room Claremont contains 25,000 square feet of flexible function space. That includes 21 meeting rooms, some with panoramic bay views, and two ballrooms, one of the latter with a capacity of up to 400 guests. One meeting room is outfitted with living room-style seating.
To carry a healthy theme throughout a program, meetings at the Claremont can feature fitness breaks, about a dozen options for 10- to 15-minute refreshers with themes such as energizing stretches and breathing exercises, desk drumming, and personal energy management.
The Mediterranean-flavored La Costa recently completed the first phase of a much needed $140 million makeover that makes the most of its sunny setting. The new Spa at La Costa formed the centerpiece of the renovation, which also included complete remodeling of 474 guest rooms sprawled out over a lush 400-acre site. During the next phase, the resort will add villas ringing its two legendary golf courses.
The spa combines 28,000 square feet indoors and a 15,000-square-foot intimate courtyard for sunbathing and relaxing. It houses 42 treatment rooms, including two suites for couples; separate water therapy areas for men and women; a full-service salon offering customized makeovers; a spa café; and quiet inside lounges.
Spa guests are asked to reveal their reason for visiting—to indulge, invigorate, or inspire—and treatments are tailored to that choice. So a day of invigoration might include agua de vida (a signature series of showers, whirlpools, body scrubs, steam, and sauna treatments), a California vegetable clay wrap, a Thai massage, a custom facial, and lunch at the spa café.
The spa is only one component of an extensive selection of recreational and health-promoting alternatives at La Costa. The Chopra Center offers group and individual instruction and activities for those seeking mind/body healing and transformation. Four heated swimming pools, bicycle rentals, a tennis center, and an 8,000-square-foot fitness club complement the golf courses.
The new 40,000-square-foot conference center at La Costa includes an 18,000-square-foot ballroom, 15 meeting rooms on two floors, verandas for receptions, and a self-serve business center. Poolside patios throughout the resort are available for outdoor events andactivities. —Megan Rowe