Built from the ground up in 1986, Cal-a-Vie was envisioned from the start as a luxury destination spa offering a comprehensive plan integrating health, nutrition, fitness and spa treatments. Since then, Cal-a-Vie has only expanded on that original idea as its facilities have grown tremendously.
Building an Experience
When John and Terry Havens bought the spa in July 2000, they got busy planning extensive renovations and remodeling. The guest villas were revamped and redecorated, along with the bathhouse, the beauty salon, and the dining room. Among the newly built structures were a 17,000-square-foot fitness pavilion and a unit of four one-bedroom suites. In addition, a 400-year-old French chapel was reconstructed for the property, next to which the L’Orangerie reception salon was erected.
The 400-year-old chapel (left) and L'Orangerie (right)
Such expansions have almost tripled Cal-a-Vie’s capacity from 24 guests to 60.
“After the Havens bought the spa, it became more comprehensive because we had the facilities to incorporate many different things,” says Debbie Zie, general manager of Cal-a-Vie. “Our Bod Pod, for example, is the ultimate in body composition testing. Only a few facilities—universities, fitness centers and some medical clinics—have the Bod Pod, but we offer that in addition to metabolic testing and oxygen testing with the VO2 Max test. So the expanded facilities have allowed us to offer these enhanced fitness tests. We’ve also added acupuncture to the program. In general, we’ve enhanced our body therapies just because we have the extra facilities that have allowed us to.”
Focus on Fitness, Cuisine and Spa
Not only have wellness components been added to Cal-a-Vie’s program, but the fitness program and spa cuisine have evolved drastically as well, Zie tells SpaFinder.
“Our current chef has taken spa cuisine really to the next level—it is just fabulous,” Zie effuses. “Jason just takes everyday recipes and converts them into dishes that are low fat, low sodium, low cholesterol, all with fresh, natural whole foods, but it’s very tasty; he just enhances them. He makes incredible gourmet sauces and desserts.”
The expansion has allowed the spa’s fitness program to now include access to an Olympic-sized pool, in which a variety of classes are held, including the Hydro-rider class, a novel twist on spin classes with stationary biking in the pool. Yoga and meditation are also available as a part of the mind-body program, as are many other innovative fitness classes, including the coquettish-sounding Flirty Girl Dance class.
“We get so many guests that say we’ve changed their lives by introducing them to different concepts,” says Zie, adding that guests take the time to evaluate their health at Cal-a-Vie, utilizing its staff and equipment. Cal-a-Vie then teaches them how to incorporate a better diet into their lives, relieve stress with spa treatments and add fitness to their schedules. Ultimately, Cal-a-Vie strives to contribute to peoples’ awareness of how to be healthier.
Looking forward, Cal-a-Vie would like to incorporate more specific holistic wellness aspects to its program, Zie tells SpaFinder. “Right now, we have acupuncture, we have a chiropractor who can come in if our guests are needing chiropractic treatment, so we’re thinking about maybe offering more things on that level, maybe doing executive wellness,” Zie elaborates.
Still, Cal-a-Vie has little interest in becoming a medical facility. “We want to keep it the way it is,” admits Zie, “because it is resort-oriented with a bent towards health and wellness, and we think we offer a good basic program, but it’s also fun. The resort and the luxury are very important too because we want to keep that vacation quality. We don’t want to make it too clinical or too medical, although we may incorporate some of those things.”
Zie continues: “It’s very relaxed, comfortable and beautiful here. What many of our guests say is that they feel like Cal-a-Vie is an extension of their home, which is what John and Terri, the owners, always wanted it to be.”
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