Provincial Paradise

At the CAL-A-VIE HEALTH SPA, French style meets California living

For Francophiles and lovers of all things design, a visit to the award-winning Cal-a-Vie Health Spa is, as the French would say, très magnifique.

Situated on 450 acres in Vista, California, and just 45 minutes from the San Diego airport, the spa resembles a Provençal village with its wine-producing vineyards, orange groves, rolling hills filled with lavender and buildings that appear to have stepped out of the 18th century.

The day begins at 6:30 a.m. with an early morning hike followed by breakfast and a well-rounded program of workouts with interesting takes on the average yoga-weight training-Pilates-barre combo. Meditation and wellness classes are also on the agenda, and there is even a planetarium for stargazing at night. Outdoors, soak up the California sun with tennis or pickleball, take in a round of
golf at the adjacent Vista Valley Country Club or sit in the sun by one of the spa’s two heated pools. Pampering is available in the form of massages and spa treatments.

With 32 guest rooms and communal meals on the terrace or inside the dining room (made cozy by the 13th-century fireplace that hails from Lyon, France) guests have the chance to make lasting friends from all over the world. There is even a wine tasting from the spa’s own vineyards.

Co-owner Terri Havens designed the interiors that can best be coined as château chic. Curating the impressive array of French antiques for each one-of-a-kind villa, her travels to Paris and the French countryside, Brussels and Italy have yielded everything from statues, fountains, gilded carved barometers, French Provincial armoires, tapestries and 200-year-old reclaimed-wood floors. There is also an antiques shop on the grounds, where visitors can purchase Louis XV and XVI antiquities and Provençal planters from the vast inventory.

Cal-a-Vie Health Spa is a wellness experience like no other and most enjoyably, you get to leave your passport at home. Book a three-, four- or seven-night stay (includes airport transportation and spa sessions) to get yourself out of a pandemic-induced rut. Thanks to Southern California’s temperate weather, there is never a bad time to go.

Perhaps Havens sums it up best on the French setting, “We asked ourselves what would it be like if we had the same programs but super luxurious with gorgeous antiques and a great environment to work out? It’s all about lifestyle and for us, making a difference in people’s lives.”