Thursday, November 12, 2009

The 4-oh! Becomes 4-ah!: Spa Party

Around this time two years ago, I got a late night call from my friend, L. Now, I'm not a late night phone call kind of person; if the phone rings past 9:30, or truthfully, some nights past 7:30, I do not feel like talking. But boy, was I glad I took this call...

L. was inviting me to join her and two other friends for an entire week at Cal-a-Vie spa to celebrate her 40th birthday...her treat. She knew it was a lot to ask, she said, but could I possibly leave work and two little kids and freezing cold New York for a week? How fast would you say yes, yes, yes!?

In late January, I flew to San Diego. Along the way, I be-friended a really nice woman, Meg, who was wedged next to a couple with a brand new baby...I had an empty seat next to me and invited her to take it. It turned out that we knew a bunch of people in common (namely my mother) and she was also going on a birthday spa trip (at a different spa) being hosted by a friend. We had a blast chatting away and helping each other with bawdy poems we were writing for our respective birthday girls. I was already feeling very carefree and relaxed and I wasn't even at the spa yet!

Meg and I parted ways and I hopped in the car to Cal-a-Vie, where I met up with L. and the two other lucky ducks there to help her celebrate. We were each friends with L., but didn't know each other well at all. By that evening, as we consumed our spa contraband - L.'s favorite champagne and chocolate in the shape of "40" from the fabulous Lilac candy store, read toasts and poems, and gave little gifts to our hostess, I felt like I had known all three women forever.

Here was our routine:

We all had our own beautiful rooms and woke up around 6 every morning for a hike around the grounds. After trying this the first morning, this proved too hilly, fast, and strenuous for me, so from there on out, I joined the older ladies at Cal-a-Vie for some speed-walking around the local golf course.

Next: Healthy breakfast with the rest of the people staying for the week, about 30 of us in total. We had heard that many celebrities go to Cal-a-Vie, but there were none there that week. The group dynamic and general environment was one part reality show, one part summer camp, and one part rehab.

In the morning, you attended three fitness classes, with a little break in between for some hot vegetable juice and carrot sticks. You'd think that would run right through you or at least give you a major cramp as you're trying to Zumba or maneuver giant hula hoops, but it actually does not.


After lunch, it's a COMPLETE AFTERNOON OF SPA TREATMENTS - SOMETHING LIKE A TOTAL OF 17 TREATMENTS OVER THE COURSE OF THE WEEK. You're never sore from all the exercise because you're constantly massaged. It was pure heaven!


Evenings begin with hors d'ouevre -- singular, not plural, because there is only one for each person. Dinner was again, healthy - who knew you could make chocolate pudding out of Tofu and cocoa powder? And the seat jockeying rivaled any middle school cafeteria at lunchtime. The four of us liked to stick together, and we liked sitting with the two friends from Texas or the unlikely sisters or the mother-college-aged daughter duo. We didn't like sitting with the pessimistic Brit who was apparently quite a success at work, but wasn't impressing anyone at Cal-a-vie.

Sometimes we tried to watch a movie, but mostly, we tumbled into bed early...and started all over again the next day. We did this for seven days until the final day, when they weighed and measured us (they had done this when we checked in.) Somehow, surprisingly given the fact that the girls had given me the chocolate "40" and I'd gnawed off a little bit of it each night, I lost 2 1/2 pounds and 8 inches, but (here comes the corny part) I gained so much -- new friends, a lot of laughs with my good friend L., a renewed interest in getting in shape and eating healthy, and a great mental break away from it all.

Cal-a-vie is top notch and this was an over-the-top experience, but regardless of the budget, I highly recommend a 40th Spa Weekend!!

photos above -,

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