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A Weekend in Ojai

2013 February 15

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*Warning* This is a photo-heavy post, so prepare for some serious scrolling.

Ojai has been on my list for a long time now and when a work event in nearby Ventura fell on my calendar for last Thursday, we decided it was not a good idea for me to drive the 2+ hours home alone at night and a very good idea to go on an impromptu family getaway.

One of the many perks of living in Southern California is that there are so many places to escape to within hours, so weekend trips are popular around here. But despite the myriad of options, we usually find ourselves in our “happy place”…Palm Springs.

Ojai was a place that said relaxation, mystical, enlightenment, spirituality to me…not kids, car seats and cookies from room service. Surprisingly, it ended up offering us a little of both.

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We booked a room at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa. When you tell someone you are going to Ojai, they immediately ask if that’s where you are staying. Now I know why.

The hotel and its grounds are beautiful. Old-world white walls, Spanish tile rooftops, wrought iron details and beautiful tile staircases create an almost labyrinth-like property that sits among the most stunning mountainous backdrop. The views get better throughout the day, culminating in the area’s famous “pink moment” right before sunset where the mountaintops to the east give off a majestic lavender/pink glow. We tried and tried and tried to capture the views and sunsets with our cameras, but as with anything amazing in life, the photo just doesn’t do it justice. There are herbs growing throughout the property and a picturesque herb garden that looked like an idyllic setting for a wedding or private celebration.

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We had a lovely room with a fireplace which came in handy because it was overcast and cold one of the days we were there. The pools (one family, one not) look gorgeous but much to my kids’ chagrin, it was too chilly for a dip. They have a few restaurants on-property. The evening that I worked my husband took the kids to the pub on-site and said it was just that…a pub. Kind of loud and busy, which is kind of great when you have two overtired kids to tend to. The second evening we opted for the mid-range Oak Grill (the property’s signature restaurant Maravilla didn’t scream kid-friendly though the front desk assured us it was…we know what it’s like to have the only two kids in a restaurant, and it ain’t fun). The service was great, the ambiance was cozy and the food was good. Not outstanding good, but good.

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I had a great massage at the property’s signature spa. I managed to escape for a little steam, sauna and “sit around and do absolutely nothing” beforehand as well, and it was relaxing and enlightening and maybe a touch spiritual. It’s not inexpensive, but no hotel spas are, and the treatment room was beautifully appointed and my therapist was very good.

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But what really impressed me about the whole stay was how the property catered to my kids. I often think it’s a struggle to find a property that both me and my kids can appreciate (which is why we love Rancho Las Palmas so much), but when the bellman delivered a family of rubber duckies packed with rice krispie treats, gummy bears and chocolate cupcakes within an hour of our arrival, I knew my littles would find plenty to love.

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I think we would save our next trip for warmer months when they can use the pool, but Little D took in a Saturday morning kids’ yoga session and had a great time. There is a kids’ club on property as well and from what we heard, it was quite popular, but since we were only there for two days, we decided to opt out. They enjoyed roaming the grounds and made best friends with the concierge, Lisa, who hooked them up with mini putters to play some little people golf. That was a big hit.

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We ventured off-property for a few hours to drive through the town of Ojai and follow some of the scenic routes recommended by the hotel. The town itself was a little less exciting than I had anticipated, though clearly full of charm. There are some beautiful winding residential roads that take you through miles and miles of orange groves under stunning canopy-like trees and past some really pretty homes. But I think our favorite local find was the Ojai Olive Oil company. It’s far up a dirt road (just far enough that you start to think you’ve taken a wrong turn and then there it is!) and is a small operation started by a local in his retirement to harvest olive oils from the region. We had a great time sampling their flavors and left with a bottle of their signature oil, a bottle of garlic olive oil that is to die for and some lovely soaps.

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Back at the hotel, Lisa also hooked the kids up with a personal delivery of home-baked cookies on our last morning, delivered especially for Little D and Kai, with a note thanking them for coming and wishing them a great trip home. That was a lovely — and delicious — touch and pretty much won their hearts forever.

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 Overall, we really enjoyed Ojai. It was nice to see something new and the town truly has a magical glow that you don’t find in most parts of Southern California. I would definitely go back when it’s warmer and I would definitely consider it for a kid-free weekend if ever there is one, and I would definitely stay at the Inn again — I can’t imagine a visit to the area would be complete without it.

*not a sponsored post, though special thanks to Gaby in sales, Ashleigh in marketing and of course, Lisa the concierge for making our stay extra memorable*

5 Responses
  1. February 15, 2013

    Thanks for this. Serendipity or what – we’re visiting Southern California over Easter and have been looking/ thinking about this place. Any other kid friendly recommendations and things to do will be warmly received !

  2. February 15, 2013

    Thank you so much for the flattering and complimentary review! We’re so glad you and your family enjoyed your time in Ojai. It’s so nice when you can take a family vacation and feel like everyone is taken care of and can just enjoy the time away.
    We hope to have you back again in the summer when Little D and Kai can enjoy the pool and Camp Ojai!
    Cheers and thanks again!
    Ashleigh at Ojai Valley Inn & Spa

  3. Sabrina permalink
    February 19, 2013

    I can assure you that the staff at the hotel is just as welcoming to dogs as they are to children. It’s amazing. The only thing they lack is a dog spa so we can drop off our dog for a bath and go enjoy the human spa. We never feel comfortable leaving her alone in the room for fear she will disturb another guest seeking the peace that Ojai offers. They really need a pet club, like the kids club.

  4. February 19, 2013

    Sounds amazing!! I’ve heard great things about that place… hmmmm maybe a babymoon?! 😉

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