"Do real men do spas?" was the question posed by the narrator
as the camera filmed Eddie Cibrian during a spa holiday. Cibrian, who appeared
in Sunset Beach, initially was reticent about admitting his whereabouts
while being interviewed for a 1997 E Channel special, "Celebrity Spas."
His concerns focused on what his friends would think about his choice for
a vacation hideaway, but soon he was seen not only enjoying hikes and yoga,
but seaweed wraps and facials, too. The footage took the viewer all over
the world, from a health farm in England, to hot springs in Iceland, to
water treatments in the South of France and to a newly-built property in
the Canadian Rockies. However, the spa that was given the most coverage
was Cal-a-Vie. Located in Southern California on a 150-acre estate, it is
the smallest luxury spa in the United States. No more than 24 guests, living
in separate cottages, are hosted each Sunday to Sunday session.
|Water exercise, Cal-a-Vie
Founder William Power, a hospital builder and administrator, and his
wife, Marlene, started the fitness facility 12 years ago after traveling
the world to visit health retreats. Although an occasional men's week was
scheduled in the early days, the guests were almost exclusively women. In
1998 about three-quarters of the sessions will be coed. Not only are men
enthusiastically embracing Cal-a-Vie as a destination for a respite from
world weariness, they are coveting the experience in the same gung ho manner
that women take to it. Marlene Power explained that some male guests are
in their 30s, but the median age is 48 and the years between 50 to 55 are
times of high stress. Oddly, men like the fact that being a spa guest is
a bonding and non-competitive experience. They may not be skilled in aerobics
or some of the other activities, but they are encouraged to work on a personal
program and definite goals. Most aim for a lifestyle change that they can
During coed weeks about one-third of the guests are men, who may or may
not be married and might or might not be accompanied by a spouse. Even if
couples come together they are given their own private villa next to one
another. The philosophy is that each person needs his own space. Mrs. Power
said that she has observed that marital relationships improve and that husbands
and wives become closer, laugh more and are kinder to their mates after
going through the program.
Most guests arrive without any significant luggage. One of the great
levelers here is that they choose to wear the spa's sweats, tee-shirts,
shorts and robes, even appearing at dinner in the ubiquitous gray uniform.
Anyone who can afford the tab has, of course, achieved success. The powerful
and famous are especially happy with the low-keyed setting.
Architecturally Cal-a-Vie is much like a small village in Tuscany or
Provence. Constructed from creamy salmon stucco with roofs of rust-colored
fluted tiles, the buildings sit snugly in a valley under a crest of purplish
mountains. Also etched into the gently sloping grass-covered terrain are
beds of blossoms blazing in riotous colors and a bubbling pool dammed up
in a rocky enclosure.
The day is structured to stress the body in the morning and rebalance
it in the afternoon. Men and women are given similar schedules and individual
needs are considered even during the crack-of-dawn hike. Depending on your
level of energy at 6 a.m. you can take the low road on the golf course or
the high one over the hills. Approximately eight activities appear on the
daily rosters, which are distributed at breakfast. Classes include warm-ups,
aerobic circuit, cardio training, step and slide, body contour and shaping,
abdominals, boxercise, water works, stretching, yoga, meditation and tai
chi. Afternoons are devoted to European-style body care, such as facials,
thalasso and hydrotherapy, hair, scalp, foot and hand treatments, reflexology
and a daily massage.
Using a state-of-the-art Microfit Health and Fitness System, all guests
receive a fitness evaluation. The computerized assessment of body fat, heart
rate, blood pressure, flexibility, strength and cholesterol and the results
of a questionnaire are integrated into a wellness profile. Based on the
findings, a staff member makes positive suggestions for continued health
Cal-a-Vie got a lot of publicity when Oprah Winfrey hired away its chef,
Rosie Daley, but the cuisine hasn't suffered in the least. If we could all
eat so well at home, none of us would have any weight problems. The kitchen
produces beautiful and tasty meals minus salt, sugar and fat. Steve Pernetti,
who now oversees the menus, likes to cook Italian food and is particularly
adept at reducing calories in pizzas and pastas. Everyone seems very pleased
with the meals and snacks. Men on a weight loss regime receive between 1400
and 1700 calories a day, which is increased if requested. On checkout day
they are on the average about eight pounds lighter.
Cal-a-Vie, 2249 Somerset Road, Vista, CA 93084. Tel. 760-945-2055. www.cal-a-vie.com
Rates are $4,350 plus room tax for 7 days and include 16 treatments. Summer
and special rate weeks are $3,950.