Innovative Spa Bar Concept Carries Healthy Philosophy Into Suites

The Oaks at Ojai, known as much for its Owner and Founder Sheila Cluff as for its commitment to value, has just completed a $500,000 addition resulting in three new private villa-type suites and a boost to the local economy.  Originally opened in 1977 by Cluff and her husband Don, the 25-year-old property remains family-owned and continues to satisfy the needs of guests as a source for relaxation, wellness, and healthy living.

“Our guests told us that they wanted private villa-type suites, the industry is trending toward freestanding villas, and we listened. We want to be able to accommodate guests looking for a private spa experience and I think the secluded patio, for tanning and a place to relax, along with the secluded entrances, really accomplish this,” states Cluff.  “Additionally, we wanted to support the local community in our efforts so we used a crew of local businesses for the job.  I think this helped to give the villas an authentic and warm feel, similar to the town of Ojai.”

Local contractor Tim Droney and his wife Interior Decorator Maraya Droney, worked together to create a relaxing environment that reflects the community of Ojai, while stimulating its economy by utilizing local artists and craftspeople. The Ojai team created the three villas in the wake of 9/11 when many businesses were putting major construction projects on hold.

The resulting Spanish style accommodations reflect an early California motif and feature hand made tiles by Rtk Tile. The bathrooms are accented with wrought iron fixtures and include jetted tubs, showers, tiled double sinks, and Citrus Dream amenities by Essentiel Elements?. Citrus Dream uses a blend of tangerine, grapefruit, and mandarin orange pure essential oils to soothe the psyche, restore the skin, and create a healthy look. Arches framed with colorful tile lead to the bedroom and hand carved doors open to a living area where exposed distressed cedar ceilings and large windows illuminate the suite with natural light. Hand carved headboards, vanities, and closets, made of distressed Alder add warmth to the villas while fabrics selected by Droney adorn the windows and pillow top beds. Wrought iron lanterns complete the mission style theme.

The property’s two Courtyard Suites starting at $275 per person cover more than 600 square feet, double the size of any guestroom the spa has offered in the past, and feature an additional 430 square feet of courtyard and patio space.  Guests enter the secluded courtyards to the welcome of a gurgling water fountain, hand tinted Sautillo tile flooring, and a rich bouquet of Native Californian plants, including fruit trees, such as orange, fig, kumquat, and tangerine, nestled between hand stuccoed walls.  Patio tables and chairs make the courtyard the perfect place to relax while absorbing the nature of Ojai and its surrounding national parks.  Large distressed Alder doors and sliding glass windows open to a cozy living area featuring a hand sculptured fireplace, oil paintings by San Francisco Artist Robert Larkin, and photography from Anita Louise Photography, a local studio.  Guests can spend time journaling at the built-in desk or enjoy their favorite CDs from the CD-clock radio as they relax in the cozy chair or the sofa that pulls out into a double bed.  The bedroom includes two queen pillow top beds adorned with a duvet cover and down pillows, built in vanities, and two closets.


Unique to the Courtyard Suites at The Oaks are the Spa Bars, which features healthy snacks including Luna nutritional bars and Fiji water to reinforce the spa’s healthy philosophy instead of offering the usual candy bars and peanuts.  The Spa Bars also offer products like sun block, bath salts, soothing aromatheraphy lotions, body puff scrubbers, facial mist, and disposable cameras.

The third addition to The Oaks also know as the Mini-Suite, is 375 square feet with an additional 240 square foot enclosed patio with fountain.  Similar to the other two suites, the Mini-Suite includes a jetted tub for easing tension, phone, TV, alarm clocks, magnified makeup mirrors, and a hairdryer.  Plush down pillows and a down comforter with a duvet cover blanket the king-sized bed, perfect for couples looking to enjoy the intimate accommodations.

A stay at The Oaks starts at $155 per person, per night, and includes overnight accommodations, three meals a day, choice of 15 fitness classes per day, and evening entertainment and seminars.  A charming 46-room 1920s hotel-turned spa in the peaceful town of Ojai, The Oaks offers a variety of activities from hiking and biking to the town`s music festival, folk dance festival, and tennis tournament, while stressing a three-part philosophy of nutrition, exercise, and alleviating “stresses” in one’s life.  The spa is located at 122 East Ojai Avenue (Ojai’s main street).  For a current calendar of evening entertainment and seminars visit The Oaks online at