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San Diego Spas

Personal pampering rules at San Diego area spas. San Diego can claim one of the largest concentrations of destination spas in the United States as well as many elegant resort spas.

At destination spas, a treatment program including meals, exercise classes, and recreation are developed especially for you based on your needs. Prices are steep, but the stay is all-inclusive except for tax and tips. Check spa websites for reduced rate weeks. Before you visit a destination spa, you'll fill out a form about your health and fitness levels and goals. Meals are healthy and delicious and cater to your weight goals. You also receive a spa wardrobe to wear during your stay.

Resort spas are adjunct to other resort facilities. Many resorts have special treatment facilities for couples; they also typically offer elegant lounges, fitness facilities, and locker rooms. Resort spas are open to nonguests, but reservations are essential. Spa customers can sometimes use other facilities such as the restaurant, pool, or gym. Each spa has its own personality and signature treatments, so look for the one that best suits your needs and budget.

Destination Spas

Cal-a-Vie Spa. Some of the most beautiful women in the world hang out in drab gray sweats while sipping tea in a lounge bulging with 17th-century French antiques at Cal-a-Vie Spa. Owners Terri and John Havens filled every nook and cranny with tapestries, paintings, fireplaces, and furnishings that came straight from old French châteaux. Recently, Julia Roberts, Kathleen Turner, and Paula Abdul made the trek to this intimate destination spa in the hills near Escondido. Oprah Winfrey, a longtime guest, even snagged the chef for herself. Like the celebs, you can spend a few days hiking the hillsides; working your buns; listening to health lectures; and being massaged, rubbed, and wrapped—all the while devouring delicious, nutritionally balanced meals. The chef even teaches you how to cook your healthy gourmet meals at home. The spa caters to a maximum of 32 guests, each ensconced in his or her own elegant European-inspired villa, appointed with travertine floors, luxury linens, and Wi-Fi. The state-of-the-art fitness center is housed in a light-filled, frescoed Turkish-style bathhouse with travertine marble tile. There are tennis courts and privileges at the adjacent Ted Robinson golf course. All this comes at a price, of course, around $8,095 to $8,595 per week, $5,595 for four days, and $4,195 for three days. 29402 Spa Havens Way, Vista, CA, 92084. 760/945–2055 or 866/772–4283. www.cal-a-vie.com.

Golden Door. Considered by many to be the world's best destination spa, the venerable Golden Door occupies a serene camellia-filled canyon just outside Escondido. Although some say the spa's age is showing, the Golden Door still collects accolades for its beauty, service, and food. From the moment you step through its entrance, you're in a hushed Zen-inspired realm of perfectly manicured gardens surrounding simply furnished guest rooms. Catering to just 42 guests (women-only most of the time) with a guest-to-staff ratio of 1 to 4, the Golden Door pampers luxuriantly, beginning with the schedule for your week's stay printed on a folded fan. Indulge in a daily massage, meditation, beauty and skin-care treatments, and an exercise program, including the chance to explore 25 miles of hiking trails, designed expressly for you. Menus complement the Zen experience with simple preparations such as pan-seared prawns or Parmesan-crusted organic chicken breast served with organic herbs and vegetables grown on the premises. Everything you need is provided, at $7,750–$8,250 per week, 3- and 4-week stays are on an as-available basis, and some discounts are available. 777 Deer Springs Rd., San Marcos, CA, 92069. 760/744–5777 or 800/424–0777. www.goldendoor.com.

Resort Spas

Omni La Costa Resort and Spa. The venerable spa at La Costa Resort and Spa is an elegant Spanish-colonial sanctuary with 42 treatment rooms, a bright lounge with garden view, a boutique and café, an outdoor courtyard with pool, a shoulder-pounding Roman water massage, sunbathing areas, and an herb garden. The mood here is warm but businesslike. Services include massages, mineral baths and water therapies, scrubs and wraps, and facials; rates range from $155 to $165 for 50-minute massages, $155 for body treatments, and $155 for 50-minute facials. Couples' programs using a VIP spa suite with two tables are also available ($310 to $475). The adjacent Chopra Center for Well Being offers seminars, workshops, treatments, and medical consultation based on ayurveda, the ancient Indian healing system. 2100 Costa del Mar Rd., Carlsbad, CA, 92009. 800/854–5000. www.lacosta.com.

Rancho Valencia Spa. The subtropical-theme spa at Rancho Valencia Resort is a garden of tranquillity. Serenity envelops you the minute you step into the front courtyard/lushly landscaped tropical garden that leads to the hacienda-style spa. There are 10 treatment rooms, all filled with flowers and plants, where you can take your treatment indoors or outside in a private garden patio; five have soaking tubs. Couples rooms also have soaking tubs for two and outdoor showers. The extensive treatment menu starts with bountiful baths ($75) and ends with spa fusions (90 minutes to 4 hours, $210 to $450). Bodywork and massages run from 60 to 120 minutes ($150 to $290). Salon services include hand and foot renewal with manicures and pedicures, waxing, and aesthetics. There's a collection of services just for men. Spa guests have access to the fitness facilities, yoga pavilion, pilates studio, and private cabanas around the secluded pool. 5921 Rancho Valencia Dr., Rancho Santa Fe, CA, 92067. 858/759–6490. www.ranchovalencia.com.

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