A Feast for the Soul

With a sprinkle of style, a dash of history, and a soupçon of serenity, The Spa at Rancho Bernardo Inn (CA) provides a helping of healing to spa-goers with an appetite for wellness. Not only is the recently renovated retreat a picturesque addition to an already iconic Southern California golf resort, but it also sets itself apart with a menu that is inspired by—and incorporates—the property's world-renowned culinary offerings.

The outdoor treatment cabanas are ideal for couples' treatments.
The outdoor treatment cabanas are ideal for couples' treatments.

Among the most distinctive services are the Made Fresh Daily ($150, 50 minutes) sessions, seasonal body treatments developed by the spa staff and the award-winning chefs at the Inn. Sourcing organic products from nearby farms, the spa team and chefs collaborate to select seasonal produce that is good for the body, both inside and out. Spa director Michelle Schlekewey and her staff then create a nourishing bodycare experience that includes a body scrub, wrap, and massage and incorporates the hand-blended ingredients. Post-treatment, guests nosh on a tasty treat that is concocted by the chefs and includes many of the same ingredients. In addition, spa guests receive a Spa to Go recipe card showing them how to create meals and at-home spa treatments using the seasonal produce selections. The springtime session was infused with avocado and rosemary, while a cooling watermelon and cucumber option is available this summer. A red wine and clove treatment is on tap for fall, and a chocolate and coffee selection will warm up wintertime spa-goers.

Natural ingredients add to the spa's alfresco appeal.
Natural ingredients add to the spa's alfresco appeal.

"The Made Fresh Daily treatments encapsulate what's so great about the spa's location," says Schlekewey. "In Southern California, we have access to fantastic produce year-round, and we get to incorporate it into a new kind of spa experience for guests—one that shows off the resort's culinary offerings." The Made Fresh Daily treatments have also become a source of pride and creativity for Schlekewey and her 42-member team. "They work with me to create the recipes and have input as to how the ingredients will work when using them in a treatment," she adds.

The spa garden offers an inviting hydrotherapy pool and plush lounge chairs
The spa garden offers an inviting hydrotherapy pool and plush lounge chairs

Another way potential clients can get a flavor of this healing haven is via the Sample the Spa event ($99), which occurs on Sunday afternoons in the spa garden. The "tasting" incorporates a selection of appetizers, wine, and other beverages as well as three 20-minute treatments, including a Neck & Shoulder Massage, an Oatmeal-Cranberry Hand Treatment, and a Lavender-Almond Foot Treatment. Several packages also provide a blissful blend of treatments and savory snacks. Highlights include A Sip Of Spa ($230, 2 hours 30 minutes), which includes a massage, a pedicure, a wine sampler and snacks, and a Spa to Go recipe card; Table for Two ($515, 3 hours), a couples' option that includes massages, facials, pedicures, and a picnic basket lunch; and An Afternoon to Savor ($355, 4 hours), which includes a massage, a Made Fresh Daily treatment, a pedicure, a wine sampler and snacks, and a Spa to Go recipe card. According to Schlekewey, all of these deliciously decadent options are a hit with spa-goers and are what sets the spa apart from its competition.

The relaxation room overlooks the spa pool and garden
The relaxation room overlooks the spa pool and garden

Another thing that makes a visit to the spa an experience to savor is its new-and-improved layout and design. Updated in September 2007, the spa went from eight indoor treatment rooms to 12, including seven indoor therapy rooms and five temperature-controlled outdoor treatment casitas that are each spacious enough to accommodate couples. Other additions include a lush spa garden complete with fragrant blooms, lounge chairs, and a hydrotherapy pool as well as an inviting 2,500-square-foot saline pool, which is surrounded by manicured gardens and billowing cabanas. Additionally, the reception area is now separate from the treatment rooms, which Schlekewey says is more "relaxing and away from the 'business' of the spa experience."

The refreshing spa pool features saline water and views of the surrounding golf courses.
The refreshing spa pool features saline water and views of the surrounding golf courses.

The spa is also mixing things up at the Inn by catering to resort guests and locals, a post-renovation venture that has resulted in around a 60/40 split between the two. Prior to the update, only hotel guests were able to enjoy the spa. This shift has proven to be a boon to the spa, particularly in the off-season and during traditionally slower mid-week times. It has been embraced by area residents who are hungry for a luxurious, easily accessible escape. "They love it," says Schlekewey. "Having the option to spend the day in such a relaxing setting close to home has been very well received." With the help of this local infusion, the spa generally accommodates around 100 to 150 clients per day and has a maximum capacity of approximately 230.

The iconic mission-style design of the resort  was integrated into the spa during its renovation.
The iconic mission-style design of the resort was integrated into the spa during its renovation.

One thing that hasn't changed, however, is the customer-focused approach demonstrated by the staff. "We make sure that all of our guests are having a great experience," says Schlekewey. In fact, the mission of the spa—and the resort overall—is to "provide services with unmatched warmth and sincerity and to treat all of our guests as lifetime friends," an approach that is most certainly proving to be a recipe for success.



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