Ojai Soul Arts, CA:
Ojai, California is to spirituality what Silicon Valley is to technology. Due east and a 40-minute hop inland from Santa Barbara, Ojai has more mind-body spas per capita than anywhere else in the U.S. – probably, the world.
How does Ojai pull that kind of rank? There are many explanations. One is the law of little numbers: Ojai is home to only 8,000 souls, so if you have lots of any one thing — it pops.
A topographic notion: most valleys in California have a north-south orientation, like Napa. But the little Ojai valley runs east-west — and the same is true of its sensibilities.
But our favorite reason for Ojai’s primacy revolves around a single person: the town was the North American base of the great Indian mystic, J. Krishnamurti. He underwent one of the most famous enlightenments in history at Ojai in 1922.
Krishnamurti made an estate there, granted to his foundation by patrons, a part-time home for the next six decades (The great sage died in Ojai in 1986).
‘Krishnamurti put Ojai on the map,’ says Judy Gabriel, who runs Retreats of Ojai, a site devoted to Ojai’s mind-body venues.
In fact, you can sleep in the same house where Krishnamurti slept for $55 a night if you call the Krishamurti Retreat, and express an interest in the celebrated teacher’s library and archives that are housed on the property.But there’s only three rooms.
Far more options are available in Ojai’s newer retreats, some run by teachers who have indirectly followed in Krishnamurti’s footsteps. Across the street from the oak grove where Krishnamurti once held forth to hundreds of fans is a an artisan bed and breakfast owned by Ronda LaRue (right).
How can a site called Soul’s Code help but not pick her Ojai Soul Arts private spa as its favorite spot in the town?
Its dreaming bed is your first stop, a place to decompress. ‘There are no tasks,’ says LaRue. ‘No journaling, no meditation, just letting go.’
The boutique resort in Ojai with the most spa trappings is Shangri La Paradise (they won’t reveal their address until you’ve made a reservation).
But the big kahuna in town is the 308-room, 31,000-square-foot Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, a country-club destination. They offer every stripe of massage and manicure you could imagine, and not coincidentally, post this as one of their claims to fame: ‘a favorite escape for Hollywood stars.’ Take it as a cue for why you’re likely to receive more value, and lasting effects, at Ojai Soul Arts.
Cost: $2,100, Tuesday-Friday
Fine print: Talk about one-on-one — Ronda’s retreats give you the exclusive run of the whole property, and hours of healing therapies from her personally, for three days. Think of it as having your own private Esalen Institute
NEXT: Sycamore Mineral Springs
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