Four Seasons Westlake Village has always been known for pampering its guests so it should come as no surprise that it recently opened the Center for Health & Wellbeing to elevate that care to a whole new level.
In June, the award-winning hotel, located north of Los Angeles, started offering four-day, three-night wellness retreats designed to kickstart guests’ health goals, both physically and mentally. Rooted in the five tenets of health – nutrition, life balance, medically-sound data, fitness and healing spa therapies – accredited experts in each area use the latest science and technology to create a custom plan just for you, whether you’re interested in Sustainable Weight Loss, Optimum Performance or Spa & Beauty.
Overwhelmed by the state of the world and all of the travel I had been doing in a short period of time, this seemed like a great way to hit the reset button, treat myself to a little me-time and learn some better coping methods since none of my stressors would be going away any time soon. At the very least, I would relax in the award-winning spa.
I booked my dates and immediately received a personal welcome email with a detailed questionnaire asking about my health, my goals and my activity preferences. Although part of me considered signing up for hikes and exercise classes, I decided what I needed most right now was just to unwind and be nurtured.
Although I live in San Diego, I also decided, for my mental health, it would be far less stressful to take the train up there than to drive. Dealing with LA traffic, especially on the way home, would quickly wipe out all the benefits I hoped to get out of my visit. This was a wise decision because Amtrak’s Surfliner is so civilized, includes wifi and offers spectacular ocean views that are, themselves, calming and restorative. (Pro tip: it’s well worth the few extra dollars for business class.)
Taking the train also gave me the opportunity to meet LuxPro’s Dytanian Stringfellow, who picked me up at the station, drove me to the Four Seasons and, when I told him I was doing a wellness retreat, made me laugh by offering to do a burger run for me at the In-N-Out down the street any time I wanted.
Luckily, though, I was about to experience the complete opposite of a deprivation kind of wellness retreat, and, as much as I love In-N-Out, I wouldn’t have traded any of the meals I ate at the hotel even for my favorite fast food.
Located between Malibu and Santa Barbara, Four Seasons Westlake Village boasts 12 beautifully-landscaped acres that feature stunning gardens and a waterfall which I spent an inordinate amount of time admiring from one of the chairs placed right next to it as well as from the picture window in my room.
My room was the kind of room I always cross my fingers for – and rarely get – when checking into a hotel: very roomy, very light (both naturally because of expansive open views and also because of plenty of thoughtfully placed lighting), equipped with convenient outlets and complimentary bottles of water, warm in décor but able to get cold, temperature-wise, for sleeping. Plus, it had a luxurious bathroom with a soaking tub. I immediately wished I was staying for more than a few days and knew that the most challenging part of my stay would be forcing myself to leave the room. I wasn’t surprised to learn there were guests on my floor who had moved in for months.
But I had booked a luxury cabana for the afternoon so I headed out to the pool and settled in. More like somebody’s backyard that a cabana, I had a whole private area to myself, complete with my own pool, lounge chairs, TV – and servers. Before ordering lunch, they stocked me up with ice water and fresh fruit to keep me cool and hydrated while I curled up with my book.
Speaking of books, the hotel has a great hidden library filled with an extensive collection of art, photography and self-help titles. It’s a cozy place to lose yourself in another world.
There’s also a lovely art gallery, and the property itself is a great place to take a walk and explore the gardens.
Ahh. The spa was basically the star of my stay and I spent a lot of time there, indulging in treatments, saunas, steams and hot tubs, or stretched out in the relaxation rooms, snacking on nuts and chocolate.
The award-winning spa at Four Seasons Westlake Village is huge and a true oasis. You literally feel the tension in your shoulders start to melt as soon as you walk in.
I had an amazing facial and massage and was awestruck by the massage table which, when you lie face down, opens up to free your breasts rather than squishing them under you. This is a game-changer and I hope every single spa switches over to these tables.
I was so blissed out every time I left the spa and wish I lived closer to the hotel so I could do this on a regular basis.
I ate most of my meals at Coin & Candor, the hotel’s California brasserie. Everything is as locally-sourced as possible and, although the vibe is casual, the flavors are rich and complex and delicious. I loved eating on the patio and was especially enamored by the Pan de Bono (gluten free bread, Oaxaca and queso fresco) which my server highly recommended, despite my wariness, and which I rationalized (twice) by pairing it with one of the filling salads for lunch. I also loved the fact that the ice cubes in my iced tea were made from iced tea so it never got watery. This was just another thoughtful little Four Seasons detail that made a big impact.
My breakfasts usually featured bacon and eggs but, okay, may have included Crème Brulee French Toast. Full disclosure: No, I did not stick to the Center for Health & Wellness-approved dishes and I have no regrets. My retreat goal was to just to destress and if that meant a juicy burger and a chocolate chip cookie or three, so be it. It worked for me.
Wellness retreats are custom designed for each individual guest, and I wasn’t sure why I was scheduled for a Sound Bath and a Life Strategies Consultation — or what to expect. Both turned out to be so much more enlightening than I could have imagined. Each one was personal, surprisingly emotional and, ultimately, important. In fact, I still think about them two months later.
My few days at Four Seasons Westlake Village were such a highlight of my year and gave me an opportunity to really take time out to rethink my priorities and take better care of myself. I would be remiss not to give a shout out to the remarkable staff who make every guest feel special, from the housekeepers to the servers to the massage therapists and aestheticians. Their attention and care are the true definition of luxury.
I am trying to incorporate the tools I was given by the professionals I met with during my retreat and to internalize all the positive messages I received. Most of all, though, I now understand why the hotel is called Four Seasons and am trying to figure out how to honor it – and myself – by making a quarterly pilgrimage to this sanctuary to recharge.