Dreaming of a getaway? Ojai Valley Inn has long been a favorite destination because it provides a welcome change of pace in a scenic area. The resort, located east of Santa Barbara, is set on 220 acres in a beautiful valley surrounded by the Topatopa Mountains. The range forms a protective ring around the Ojai area that creates a cozy atmosphere. In fact, in the Chumash language, Ojai means “the nest.”
Get Happy, Stay Happy
At Ojai Valley Inn, 300 spacious rooms and suites, many with fireplaces, are located in low-rise adobe buildings with red tile roofs. Accommodations are clustered in a half-dozen villages, each with its own personality and manicured Mediterranean landscaping. Villa Los Padres is the quietest; Paseo Villas, Villa Mariposa, and Fontana are the closest to the spa. The Orchard and the Pixie Pool are popular with families during the summer. Walking paths and shuttles connect the villages, and all lodging is pet-friendly.
Guests have access to four tennis courts, four pools, an 18-hole golf course, complimentary use of bikes, and a fitness center, but, from what I observed during a recent stay, the most popular pastime is taking deep breaths and relaxing.
I seriously intended to do at least a few athletic activities, but the serene environment was just too seductive. Instead, I sat in an Adirondack chair and gazed out over the lush green golf course sheltered by majestic mountains. Later, I closed my eyes and meditated on a chaise at the pool. In fact, the only “activity” I experienced was an awesome “Advanced CBD Oil Massage” treatment at the spa. The therapist targeted my sore muscles, and I could feel the stress in my body melt away.
The View’s the Thing
The single most famous Ojai Valley vista is the “pink moment” sunset. It’s so popular that each day’s time is posted in a prominent place, and guests stake out premium spots and choose their vino well before the moment arrives.
Having said that, my personal favorite sight was the resort’s 200-year-old oak tree positively dripping with gorgeous handcrafted lanterns. The 28 wrought iron and glass beauties, each with a distinctive vintage design, are the work of artisan Paul Ferrante. When Illume was created in 2016, the installation was meant to be up for a limited time, but it proved too popular to dismantle.
The tree is right in front of The Oak restaurant, from which I watched red-headed woodpeckers during breakfast. I was impressed by Illume then, but seeing it at night, with all the lanterns glowing, actually took my breath away.
A Quick Trip to Town
Ojai (pop. 7,500) is a low-key community with an elevated vibe, not dissimilar to Sedona, Arizona. Chain stores are prohibited, but small shops and some fun boutiques are located along the main street. The area also has its fair share of art galleries and New Age shops. My favorite spot is Bart’s Books, located in a charming old cottage, where I love to wander from room to room chockablock with new and used volumes. Part of the store is outdoors, and customers can pay for books on these shelves via an honesty box at all hours.
When it’s time for a meal, guests at Ojai Valley Inn can choose between multiple cafes, bars, and restaurants. These range from SoCal posh to super relaxed, but they share a serious commitment to serving interesting, flavorful food.
Starting the day at The Oak? I highly recommend the Breakfast Bowl, which includes quinoa, kale, roasted mushrooms, tomatoes, carrots, Parmesan, and two fried eggs. Need a nibble in the afternoon? Stop in at Libby’s Marketplace. Next door, Jimmy’s Pub serves brick oven pizza near the best pink moment seating. I also highly recommend that you treat yourself to a wonderful meal at Olivella, the resort’s signature restaurant. The pan-roasted monkfish with butternut squash, baby leeks, cauliflower, and mustard seed was divine.
The culinary suite of options combined with a magnificent natural setting make Ojai Valley Inn the perfect getaway. ojaivalleyinn.com
Upcoming Culinary Events
Under the direction of Culinary Ambassador Nancy Silverton, a series of cooking and dining experiences take place throughout the year at OVI’s Farmhouse epicurean event center. This year, the chef, author, and James Beard Award winner will welcome guests to dinners, demonstrations, thoughtful conversations, food festivals, and more. ojaivalleyinn.com/farmhouse#upcoming-events