Stressed, burnt-out, sleep-deprived and nutritionally challenged are not the characteristics of productive employees. "Companies are realizing that if they want their teams performing at a very high level, they need them to be on a journey of healthy living," says Becky Leehey, executive director of the California Health & Longevity Institute in Westlake. A few days of well-being programming and relaxation at a top-notch spa resort can be an important part of a corporate wellness strategy. And-this is no small thing-it also makes meeting attendees very happy.
It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition. If meeting-goers don’t have time for a 60-minute facial or massage, resorts can bring the spa to them, with mini-treatments offered between breakout sessions, healthy smoothies provided alongside coffee, morning yoga classes or hikes and spa amenities such as scented oils for welcome gifts.
These 11 top-notch spa resorts make planning a spa meeting almost as relaxing as attending one.
Featuring a spa menu inspired by the fresh herbs and botanical extracts found in Carmel Valley, Spa Aiyana at Carmel Valley Ranch offers high-end massages, body therapies, facials and skin and nail care designed to connect guests with their natural surroundings. Clint Wall, spa manager, says the setting and services function as an effective form of team-building. "Our peaceful treetop environment encourages open-mindedness, collaboration, laughter and not taking everything too seriously," he says.
The Ranch offers numerous other ways to unwind and connect. Following a guided hike among the property’s 7,500 lavender plants, attendees of a recent corporate getaway booked 100 Lavender Garden Swedish massages, a signature treatment that incorporates lavender grown on the resort.
Guests can also learn lavender distillation, oil blending and lavender soap making. In another connect-to-nature activity, the resort chef and gardener lead a walk through the property’s organic garden. Guests select their own veggies and herbs, then head up to the Adventure Kitchen to prepare them.
The 10,500-square-foot Spa Aiyana has 11 treatment rooms, including three private suites. Every treatment is based on one of four specialized gardens: lavender, herb, aiyana and alchemist.
More than 45,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space; 139 guest suites.
The Spa at Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa,
Many spas offer locally grown, seasonal produce in their smoothies or salads. This spa at the Laguna Cliffs Marriott, which sits high on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, incorporates fresh SoCal ingredients into actual spa services.
"Wellness is expanding to include not only eating local but spa-ing local," says Jessica Timberlake, spa director. Farm-to-Table facials and body treatments include elements like avocado, rosemary, honey and olive oil sourced from VR Green Farms in nearby San Clemente.
For groups, the relaxation experience can begin right at the hospitality desk with mini-treatments such as custom-blended essential oils, chair massages and reflexology.
The 14,000-square-foot spa has 10 treatment rooms. Separate men’s and women’s changing spaces include whirlpool, wet and dry sauna rooms and Swiss showers with 14 shower heads. A 2,500-square-foot fitness center stays open 24 hours. Two heated swimming pools offer ocean views.
Fifty thousand square feet of meeting and outdoor event space; 378 rooms including 15 deluxe suites.
The Bathhouse at Calistoga Ranch,
Tucked into a secluded Napa Valley canyon, Calistoga Ranch is a tranquil spa hideaway that’s ideal for intimate corporate gatherings. The Bathhouse spa, on the banks of the spring-fed Lake Lommel, offers a natural mineral pool, outdoor fireplaces and quiet treatment cabins with garden showers and private soaking tubs. In early 2013, Calistoga Ranch unveiled new seasonal creek-side pavilions, where guests can relax in luxury while listening to the soothing sounds of rushing water.
Guests can also choose a slightly "buzzier" way to unwind: In the Bee Well program, groups learn about the benefits of bees and their honey through classroom-style seminars and weekly tours in the on-site vineyard. Following these classes, guests can indulge in eco-luxe, honey-infused spa treatments derived from the resort’s own honeybee colonies.
Mike Moran, director of sales and marketing, says other luxurious ways to unwind can easily be arranged, including guided bike tours of Napa Valley, hot-air ballooning, wine-blending workshops and golf on a private course.
The 5,000-square-foot bathhouse includes five peaceful treatment rooms featuring two spa services menus indigenous to the region, one that rotates seasonally and another that stays constant throughout the year.
Nearly 12,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space; 48 guest lodges.
Montage Spa at Montage Laguna Beach,
With its breathtaking oceanfront facilities, floor-to-ceiling windows and 180-degree vistas, it’s no surprise that the Pacific Ocean plays an integral role in Spa Montage’s menu of relaxing treatments. Signature treatments include water therapies, seaweed mineral baths and hydrotherapy. At a Northern California medical device company’s annual sales meeting, the group took over the spacious spa for an afternoon of facials, massages and spa-inspired beverages.
Spa Montage also offers the Surrender Retreat, a multiday executive getaway featuring customized treatments and healthy meals designed by a personal spa therapist and fitness trainer. "We encourage groups to take advantage of our surroundings," adds Kacey Spies-Bruno, public relations director.
A mile-long stretch of oceanfront property, Montage Laguna Beach has pristine coves and inlets for contemplation and wellness activities such as meditation, beach boot camp, sunset yoga or their signature thalassic beach walks, a barefoot walk in the sand that includes breath work and meditation at the ocean’s edge.
The 20,000-square-foot Spa Montage features 21 treatment rooms, men’s and women’s locker rooms complete with fireplaces, saunas, steam rooms, showers, whirlpools and a cold-plunge pool. There’s also a full-service salon, oceanfront adults-only lap pool and a fitness studio.
Meeting space totaling 14,500 square feet and 248 guest rooms, including 37 beach bungalows and 60 suites on 30 impeccably landscaped acres. Each guest room has a private oceanfront balcony.
An award-winning spa, unique treatments-the Sonoma goat milk body wrap, for one-and vineyards have made the intimate Carneros Inn a popular destination for many executive retreats. "We have seen an increased desire for privacy and an atmosphere that encourages relaxation," says Ted Stumpf, director of catering and conference services. "Many corporate clients return on a regular basis."
During a recent executive retreat for 35 people, guests indulged in spa services like massages, hair therapies and customized facials, and also enjoyed private yoga classes, bocce ball, winery tours, boot camp fitness sessions and guided runs through the surrounding vineyards. Dinner in the Hilltop Dining Room provided attendees with spectacular views of the resort’s signature Hilltop Pool and surrounding countryside. That lavish bliss extended to the cottages, which feature heated floors, deep-soaking tubs, alfresco showers, wood-burning and gas fireplaces and private gardens.
The 4,500-square-foot spa at the Carneros Inn includes eight indoor and two outdoor treatment rooms, men’s and women’s saunas and steam rooms and hair and nail facilities.
The inn’s 27 acres have 10,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, including vibrant courtyards, spectacular dining rooms and an apple orchard. The property also includes 86 private cottages, two infinity pools, culinary garden, bocce courts and a market.
Since its opening in 1915, the historic Claremont Hotel Club & Spa has hosted celebrities, dignitaries and other VIPs. Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama have been recent guests. Had they had time to enjoy not just the spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay, but the spa as well, they could have opted for some unusual treatments like the Tibetan sound massage (sound waves are generated from sacred Tibetan bowls) or the Ayurvedic rebalancer body treatment, where shirodhara oil is poured on the third eye.
Groups often request mini-treatments during meeting breaks. A portable microcurrent machine can provide an instant eyelift, while a staff of personal trainers from the Claremont’s fitness club leads "fit breaks" that range from relaxation and breathing exercises to 15-minute desk drumming, a percussion activity that immediately raises participants’ energy levels. If a conference agenda is jam-packed, vouchers for future spa visits are often presented for use on another day.
The 20,000-square-foot spa with 32 treatment rooms features a signature pre-spa hydrotherapy ritual that is a progressive combination of water-based treatments, including whirlpool, steam room, and multi-head and waterfall showers. For private events, the sound system is iPod-controlled, so guests can listen to their own selected playlists.
Thirty thousand square feet of meeting space; 279 guest rooms, each one unique.
The Spa at Terranea,
Ranchos Palos Verdes
Even if breakout sessions begin before dawn and end well after sunset, meeting guests can still enjoy this stunning oceanfront spa. "We’ll do just about anything that a group wants," says Blake Feeney, spa director, "including extending our hours."
The spa at Terranea has opened as early as 4:30 a.m. and stayed open until 11 p.m. for groups. Signature spa treatments are designed for different times of day: the invigorating Tempest, which features a stimulating body brush and coldwater rinse for morning, and, before bedtime, the restful Tranquility, where a soak in a copper tub scented with orange blossoms and vanilla is followed by a cocoon wrap. "We host every kind of meeting group under the sun," says Feeney, "from six to eight people to hundreds."
When a major financial services corporation bought out the entire 102-acre property, wellness activities took place everywhere-meditation in the meadow, poolside yoga and nutritional demonstrations in the spa café. Terranea offers some unusual mind-body team-building activities, including lessons in falconry and the vibrational experience of Tibetan singing bowls.
The 50,000-square-foot spa includes 25 treatment rooms with views of the Pacific, a fitness and wellness center, adults-only spa pool with private cabanas, men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor relaxation areas with sauna, steam room, whirlpool and cold-plunge pool, co-ed relaxation lounge, outdoor fire pits, spa café and full-service salon.
More than 135,000 square feet of meetings and event space includes 33 different venues. The 582 rooms include a 360-room hotel, as well as bungalows, casitas and luxury villas.
PSYC at the Parker Palm Springs,
There’s a playful irony to the spa at the Parker Palm Springs. It calls itself the Palm Springs Yacht Club (PSYC), though it’s in the middle of the desert, and Stephanie Neely, spa director, has the title of commodore. But when it comes to delivering service to meeting groups, the nautically themed spa is spot-on serious and highly creative.
In keeping with its Rat Pack vibe, a recent event featured Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra impersonators and synchronized swimmers, The Aqualillies, performing in one of the property’s two outdoor pools. Signature scents can be created for meeting groups, used in spa services and given to guests as an amenity.
PSYC is a favorite venue for nighttime events. "The spa has a beautiful flow and a British-colonial-meets-India-with-a-twist-of-Ralph-Lauren vibe, so it transforms into a sexy, sophisticated space," Neely says. "We’ve turned the check-in area into a stunning sushi bar and the relaxation lounge into a jazz bar," she adds. "We can put floating candles and mirrors on the pool and beam a corporate logo with colored lights." Neely says 90 percent of groups book private yoga classes, which can be held under a canopied tent in the spa or amid the hammocks on the expansive Palm Lawn.
An 18,000-square-foot spa with 18 treatment rooms; the men’s and women’s locker rooms have Hollywood Regency décor, and the relaxation area has an indoor pool, saunas, steam rooms and whirlpool.
Almost 7,000 square feet of indoor meeting space; outdoor meeting space abounds, including the Croquet Lawn, and pétanque court. The 13-acre property has 131 guest rooms, 12 private villas and the two-bedroom, two-bathroom Gene Autry Residence.
Bacara Resort & Spa,
With 36 treatment rooms, 400 spa services can be offered in a single day at Bacara, making this an ideal choice for large groups. But that’s not all that’s impressive about the four-level spa. "The Spanish colonial architecture is awe-inspiring," says Anne Stephany, the resort’s director of marketing and communications. "Guests walk into this huge three-level rotunda. Upstairs there’s a relaxation lounge with a wood-burning fireplace and nearly floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the saline-water spa pool."
The spa menu offers 60 different treatment options, but that’s just the beginning. Treatments can also be co-branded. For a Southern California company that held a group meeting at Bacara, the spa created a special treatment that incorporated the company’s logo colors into the service, using pink Himalayan salt for a body scrub, flowers indigenous to the company headquarters' region and a lomilomi massage technique inspired by the CEO’s background.
The 26 luxury cabanas around the main saline infinity swimming pool offer another customized opportunity. Wellness circuits can be set up, with each cabana offering a different spa "moment," including pedicures, manicures, hand scrubs, sunscreen applications, trunk shows, healthy smoothies and more.
A 42,000-square-foot spa with 36 treatment rooms on four levels; 3,500-square-foot fitness center, offering yoga and fitness classes as well as private training; classes, including meditation and Zumba, can also be held on a bluff that overlooks the ocean.
Seventy-eight acres with nearly 50,000 square feet of function space, including six outdoor lawns and terraces, and a 211-seat screening room; 354 guest rooms, suites and luxury retreats, each with a private patio or balcony and ocean, garden or mountain views.
The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel,
A red Chinese footbridge leads guests to the Euro-Asian spa-the largest in the entire Four Seasons collection-where a wall of flowing water displays exotic orchids. This is arguably the most beautiful spa in Southern California, matched by the gorgeous grounds, which include waterfalls, a gazebo, a pagoda and a hothouse. Adjacent to the luxury property is the state-of-the-art California Health & Longevity Institute. When it comes to a wellness retreat, this property offers it all. "This facility lends itself to anything you’d want to do," says Damien Craft, spa director. "We can customize everything for groups of any size."
The pagoda gardens have been transformed into a wellness fair and used as a backdrop for new car launches, and the serenity pool has been a setting for cocktail receptions. Complementing these, the Health & Longevity Institute can offer hands-on cooking classes, energy walks led by an exercise physiologist, farm-to-table dinners in the greenhouse and workshops on everything from the power of sleep to mindful eating.
"We work with Damien to infuse wellness into the spa experience," says Becky Leehey, the institute’s executive director. "Leadership groups come here for three to four days of programming, so that people can get the tools they need to function at the top of their game."
Forty thousand square feet, 28 treatment rooms, each with a private terrace. Four luxury spa suites feature a private patio and plunge pool. Outdoor serenity pool with 10 cabanas, and an indoor lap pool; 16,000-square-foot fitness center. The new activity lawn includes a putting green in the shape of California.
Forty thousand square feet of meeting space and 28 event spaces; 25,000 plants, flowers and shrubs in on-site gardens; 243 guest rooms and 27 suites.
Sea Spa, Loews Coronado Bay Resort,
Surrounded by water on all sides, the Loews Coronado on the (almost) island of Coronado-it’s connected to the San Diego mainland by a bridge-has serenity built into its very geography.
"The spa is an extension of that tranquility," says Jill Bricnet, director of conference and catering services. "The sea is our inspiration." Josephine Coderko, executive director, administration & WW Special Events with Warner Home Video, agrees-she bought out the spa when she brought 200 employees to the resort for a four-day annual sales event. "We wanted to say, ‘Thank you for all your hard work, here’s some relaxation,’" she says, "and this was the perfect setting."
Munchies and cocktails were served poolside, while attendees waited for facials, massages or mani-pedis, some in tented cabanas.
Bricnet has also arranged what she calls "roaming receptions," with different activities at stations throughout the property-including nature walks, tarot card and coffee grounds readings, feet-cleansing rituals and cocktail smoothies and cold-pressed juice bars featuring herbs from the resort’s organic garden. One favorite: the cucumber green tea martini.
The 15,000-square-foot spa has 10 indoor and outdoor treatment rooms, a spa patio with outdoor Jacuzzi and Watsu pool and a fitness center that offers daily classes. Signature treatments include island-inspired body wraps and sea stone massages.
Sixty-five thousand square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space; 439 rooms including 37 suites.