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My Girls Weekend at The Ojai Valley Inn

Every year my best friends from Oregon and I take a weekend girls trip. And we don’t mess around. We used to vacation with our families but with 2 kids each that means 16 people (8 under the age of 8!!) in one large, but never large enough, house. After the last one we realized that finishing a sentence shouldn’t be a luxury and ‘vacations’ shouldn’t feel this chaotic. So we cut the kids and husbands from our annual trip and HAVE. NOT. LOOKED. BACK.

Editors note: *If you think we are not thinking or going to write about the latest tragedy don’t worry, we are and I will. This post was written days ago, but I’m currently writing about the shooting and if I have the guts will post about it soon. But if you are looking for an escape, keep reading 🙂 

My first draft of this post was all about our friendship and how amazing these women are. But writing about how I won the friend lottery might not be as interesting to you as it is satisfying in my brain. We have 25 years of friendship and, while I live in LA and they live in Portland, I feel so close to them because of these weekends (when I go to Portland I have a lot of family there I want to see, too, plus the kids, so getting any quality adult time with friends is hard).

Two years ago I reached out to one of my favorite places in the world – The Ojai Valley Inn – to see if they were interested in a little social media trade for a discount towards my girls weekend, and after seeing the engagement and reservations they received from that weekend on Instagram they reached out to host us again this year. Ummm…

It would be like Santa asking Charlie and Elliot if they wanted to come visit to the North Pole, have a sneak peek at the toy factory and pick out their favorites… on a random Wednesday… in June.

I tried to play it cool, but my fingers scrambled in excitement as if they had each drank a red bull. ‘Yes,’ they wrote. ‘We could make that happen.’

Needless to say, my friends booked plane tickets and we were all buzzing over text with joy (and yes, I was feeling VERY COOL – and lucky). Our first girls weekend there was magical, and we were so excited to be doing it again.

Ojai Valley Inn Resort

But then the Thomas fire happened. And it wasn’t kind to that area of Southern California. For over 2 weeks it was out of control and while the firefighters saved the towns, the mountains burned. The resort closed for over a month – weddings were postponed, family reunions and company parties went elsewhere, and the town itself, typically flooded with tourists, went quiet.

But this town is magical, both pre-Thomas and now. They are BACK.

Brian and I actually looked DESPERATELY for something to buy there all last year until we opted for the less expensive ‘mountain house‘ route. We wanted to buy/live in Ojai because it’s a valley of palpably good energy (seriously… it’s a thing), with a really lively artistic community, a small town feel, amazing weather (and wine), and yet it’s commutable to LA (if needed – it’s an hour and a half away, which is basically Santa Monica to Silverlake during average Friday night traffic).

Once the fires were under control (and we weren’t worried about the safety of those living in the area) we started throwing around some other ideas of where we could spend our girls weekend since everyone had already booked their flights, thinking that any chance of spending it in Ojai was off the table. Then, in late December, The Ojai Valley Inn reached out saying that they were reopening their doors the day before we were scheduled to come in January, and they and the town needed visitors more than ever. We were obviously THRILLED.

A quick note – and one that inspired me to write a whole post about this resort. We asked both our first server and the manager of the bar what they did while the resort was shut down over the holidays, and they told us (with nothing but gratefulness in their heart), that the family that owns the resort paid them in full – INCLUDING AVERAGE TIPS – for those 5 weeks while they cleaned the resort. The entire staff was walking on air, so glad to be back working for a family/company that treated them so well during what was surely a very scary time in their region. While the timing was bad for the resort, it allowed the staff, who usually work more during the holidays, to be with their families. The PR folks that I work with didn’t tell me this, but once we found out all of us were floored, impressed, and dare I say, moved. 

The point is – the resort is owned by good people who treat their staff so well and not only do I want this resort to be at full capacity again for their sake, but also for the town itself, which was hit hard by the fires, as a large part of their economy is based on local tourism. That’s all to say – despite the fires, Ojai is just as amazing to visit as it was before and if you are looking for a place to splurge, in an extremely special and magical town – this post is for you.

Ojai Valley Inn Suite Rooms

So I thought I’d shoot a bunch and write a full post. The resort is high end and certainly isn’t in everyone’s budgets, but if you are going to splurge and looking for a weekend full of magical luxury, then keep reading (and yes, I got a generous press discount). I have booked weekends here many times before I had an Instagram following and my experience was the same. Brian and I baby-mooned here (before Charlie) and I have spent many a magical wedding weekend at this resort. They treat everyone like GOLD.

Let’s start with aesthetics. As a designer, I obviously respond to a well -designed room. It’s not all I care about, but I can’t help having an emotional response to good hotel rooms. It just makes me happy.

Ojai Valley Inn Resort Bedrooms

The rooms are beautiful, calm, modern, and so, so warm. It was built in 1923 and has Spanish architecture, in a totally modern and fresh way. It’s appropriate to the style while having so many modern amenities.

Resort Ojai Valley Rooms Upholstered Window Bench  Ojai Valley Resort Master Suite With Living Room

It’s dripping with charm (and luxury) and you feel spoiled and taken care of from the second you arrive to the second you sadly have to leave.

Spanish Inspired Master Bathroom Terra Cotta Tiles

Modern Traditional TV Cabinet

This (below) was my room and I almost cried when I walked in.

Ojai Valley Inn King Suite Modern Hotel

As you know the holidays were a bit crazy for me (and everyone), and walking into this room for a 3-day weekend mid-January made me overwhelmed. My eyes turned to glass and my body turned to mud.

Emily Henderson Ojai Valley Inn Girls Weekend

I was with my best friends, for THREE DAYS at this magical place. Just “happy” wasn’t accurate. As much as I like a hipster hotel with “cool” fixtures and urban details, I really love a big soft bed, with wall to wall carpet, a peaceful private terrace, upholstered headboards, flattering lighting, and functional nightstand tech (like outlets built INTO the lamp on the nighstands – don’t make me search for it!). The showers, the bathtubs, the complete lack of noise and traffic – all make you feel like you have escaped.

I read the coffee table book about this resort that was in our suite while we were there and learned that they renovate and update it every few years, which costs millions. They don’t wait for things to get dated and dingy. It ALWAYS feels fresh, modern and new – but with so much soul.

If you can’t tell it, I REALLY, REALLY LOVE THIS PLACE.

Emily Henderson Ojai Valley Inn And Spa Girls Weekend

I wasn’t alone – physically or emotionally. My best friends and I talked fast and furious from the first second, diving into our careers, kids, marriages, and general thoughts and feelings.

Emily Henderson Ojai Valley Inn En Suite Living Room

After we checked in and took some photos we headed out to lunch, through the grounds.

Ojai Valley Spa Village

Ojai Valley Inn Grounds and Rooms

The resort is big, but totally walkable and the grounds are so well kept, with perfect landscaping and again, so much architectural charm.  But if you want to rent bikes to go into town, they have, of course the most adorable bikes possible.

Vintage Bike With Basket Rental Ojai Valley Inn

Ojai Valley Inn Bike Rental

Ojai Valley Resort Southern California HotelSpa Village Courtyard Ojai ValleyOjai Valley Inn And Spa LobbyOjai Valley Artist Cottage

Emily Henderson The Oak Restaurants Ojai Valley Inn

We ate at the first of their four restaurants for our first lunch – The Oak (which has both inside and outdoor dining).

The Ojai Valley Inn Restaurant The Oak

And again, the food and service is truly incredible. Everything is so fresh and feels so healthy even if it’s the lobster roll. Seriously every resort needs to come experience the high level of hospitality that this resort provides.

Dining At The Ojai Valley Inn Food And Menu

We Rose’d all day, obviously, and took the party to the outside patio that overlooked the golf course with those insane trees and the mountains in the background.

The Ojai Valley Inn Wine On The Patio

The Inn has 8 places to dine – so you really don’t need to go into town if you don’t want to. The Oak is the casual indoor and outdoor patio, Olivella’s is delicious fine dining (perfect for any special occasion), Jimmy’s Pub is down by the golf course and obviously more gastro-fair and where we typically spend our nights after dinner, The Spa Cafe has extremely healthy delicious breakfast and lunch (their “healthy” cocktails are SO delicious), Libbey’s is for picnics, coffee, and grab-and-go sandwiches, and then both pools have menus available to eat and drink poolside (or in cabanas). Every single one of them has amazing, healthy, California cuisine at different price points. Even if you stay at a less expensive hotel in town or an airbnb, come for the restaurants (and spa).

Ojai Valley Inn Pub Cafe Restaurant

The next day we had a yoga class (scheduled with the spa) under a tree on the grounds, which was just dreamy. I went on a run by myself beforehand and when I came back our instructor was setting up and I almost started crying at this setting.

Ojai Valley Inn And Spa Outdoor Yoga Under The Oak

If you aren’t into yoga they have other private classes that you can book in advance. Additionally, there are exercise classes throughout the day and the gym (we didn’t go to it, but it is BEAUTIFUL). Even the spa boutique is so well curated. I mean, how often do you go into those stores and actually want to buy anything? Never. This is fashion-forward, with beautiful athleisure, jewelry, beauty products, and cosmetics (many from local artisans). There are a couple other boutiques on the property that are GREAT, too.

Emily Henderson Best Friends Ojai Valley Inn

The first time we came I wanted to show them the town. You can bike or walk from the resort and in 10 minutes be in the heart of Ojai. The town is adorable and while the locals will say that it’s changed a lot (and I’m sure it has), it has great boutiques, restaurants, bars, and a huge square with an amazing park for kids.

Ojai Downtown Village Shops

But let’s get back to the second, but the most important reason that we came: THE WORLD FAMOUS SPA.

The Spa At Ojai Valley Inn Resort

When we originally conceived of the ‘ditch the family’ idea we knew the weekend was meant for relaxing, so finding somewhere that had an amazing spa that could treat us all at the same time was extremely important. I hyped up this spa A LOT to them, with full confidence that I wasn’t overstating.

Emily Henderson Ojai Valley Inn And Spa Girls Weekend  The Spa At Ojai Valley Inn Resort Spanish Tile

The spa itself feels like an old-world Mediterranean spa, with gorgeous Spanish tile and architecture. You feel absolutely transported.

It has a few different areas for groups of individuals to relax – for hours and hours.

Ojai Valley Inn Spa Lounge Area With FireplaceIndoor Hot Tub Sun Room Spanish Tile

The idea is that not only do you get treatments (massages, facials, or even a spiritual group mud treatment) but you can hang out here all day with your girlfriends and talk (the men have their own area – although I haven’t seen it). Bachelorette weekends, bridal groups, or annual girls trips like ours are so perfect here.

Emily Henderson Ojai Valley Spa

The spa is famous because it is truly one of the best in the world. The therapists and aestheticians are highly trained and experienced, the amenities are plentiful (hot tub, steam rooms, sauna, adult-only pool, a huge locker room with beauty supplies – every detail is considered and high end). It’s WORTH THE SPLURGE.

Emily Henderson Girls Weekend

In addition to our spa treatments we wanted to do some more Ojai experiences, and the resort offers a few that are relatively new.

The first experience was candlemaking in our room.

Ojai Valley Inn Candle Making Experience

At first when they mentioned it I thought it was kinda odd and random, but said ‘sure let’s try it.’ It ended up being so nice to have another activity, learn something new, and not have to think or plan. It was super casual and interesting, without feeling like you were at school. The resort brings in a local expert candle maker  (Kirsten of Good Vibes Candle Co.) and she made it super easy and strangely satisfying.

The next day we were booked as a group with a spiritual counselor (Nicola Behrman), and when I told my girlfriends about the prospect they all freaked out. None of us are (or should I say WERE) particularly into things like this, but we are all so open and excited to try anything new – especially in the self-help realm. Now I didn’t really shoot this because it was rather personal, and it’s hard to describe to people but I’ll try.

It was mostly about our energy and working through some blockages. There was some guided meditations, aura readings, and of course some really open and spiritual conversation about the inner ‘us.’ It was remarkably enlightening and she was so accurate at reading us it was insane. She immediately told me that I was a cosmic bunny, that I flit around fast, scattered, and happy with an extremely high-frequency energy and that I often need to be grounded. Indeed. After 2 hours we felt like better, calmer versions of ourselves with some new tools to help us navigate the chaos in our lives. We were on a high for hours and we still talk about how it’s kinda changed our lives (well that, and the Tarot reading that happened later that day – WHICH WAS ALSO AMAZING).

Ojai Valley Inn Guided Spiritual Counseling Ojai Spiritual Guidance Session

Of course, spiritual counseling isn’t for everyone (why not?), and if you aren’t into it then don’t worry, you can hang at one of their two pools instead.

Ojai Valley Inn Outdoor Pool Cabana

Or golf at their world-class golf course:

Ojai Valley Golf Course

Or of course, sit and watch the ‘pink moment’ where the mountains and sky turn pink every night at sunset. It’s magical…

Ojai Valley Inn Pink Moment

And don’t forget to sit near that tree with those amazing hanging lanterns (that inspired my hanging lanterns in our backyard).

Lanterns Hung In Oak Tree Hanging Lanterns Dusk

I typically don’t do big press trades for a blog post, but like I explained at the beginning of this insanely long post, not only is this resort one of my favorite places in the entire world, but it’s run by the loveliest of people, full of the friendliest staff, and the town of Ojai and this resort need the world to know that they are BACK.

If you are looking for a truly splurge-worthy vacation – whether it’s a honeymoon, wedding, girls trip (it’s great for mom/daughter or boys trips, too) then consider The Ojai Valley Inn. We talked about going somewhere else next year, but then thought WHY? Nothing will compare.

The Inn was generous enough to give a discount to my readers: EMHEN18 – 15% OFF Sunday – Thursday stays through June 30th, 2018 (book by April 30th, 2018). Or if you want to stay on the weekend then use: OJAILOVE – 10% OFF any day of the week, which gives a $10 donation per night to the Ojai Love Charity, and a 10% OFF voucher for select local restaurants, shops, bars, activities etc. Available for stays through March 31st, 2018. You can find more info HERE. As a large part of the Ojai economy, the Inn is obviously wanting the town to get back on its feet again, too.

Fire Pit On The Golf Course Ojai Valley Inn

Thanks to The Ojai Valley Inn and all the friendly staff who made my girls weekend quite possibly the best weekend of our lives together. The girls left on Sunday but we had the room ’til monday, so Brian and the kids joined me for a day and night, and I could have cried when they arrived. There is nothing better than taking a break from chaos… besides being reunited with your 2 and 4 year old after 2 nights away.

>And yes, it’s great for families, too. 🙂

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Jason Heistermann
6 years ago

Thank you for your wonderful story. I attended boarding school in Ojai in the early 80’s and absolutely LOVE the town, the people and the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa. I moved away from LA six years ago and now live in Vancouver, Wa., right across the Columbia River from your friends. My wife and I still travel to LA and Ojai (for my reunions) quite often and we always take a break and go to The Inn for some quiet time and beauty. You could not have been more spot on about the joy one feels while there. My wife has put it on her bucket list to stay there at least once in our travels. We will male it happen, but like you, i am slightly afraid she will never want to leave. If we win the lottery we can stay as long as she wants. Thank you again, although part of my boarding school burned down during the fires, I am happy so say that at they (Ojai Valley School) have also started to rebuild and carry on with the school year. #OVSSTRONG

Advika Kapoor
6 years ago

This place is gorgeous. It looks so calm and relaxing. I’m glad y’all had a great girls weekend and well deserved I’m sure. Thanks for sharing this beautiful experience. I hope my husband and I can go in the future.

6 years ago
Deb - NC
6 years ago

Oh. My. That is unbelievable! I love Ojai, was there briefly once many years ago but this – THIS is beyond dream quality. Now….. about that gray sofa….. who makes that?…..I know you know… always know that stuff……

6 years ago

Did you do the Kuyam at the spa? Always a highlight of my girlfriends’ Ojai visits.

Another Ojai Valley Inn fun fact – did you know that when the inn was closed for an extended period of construction and remodeling (~2005), they set up a program for their employees to train in the construction trades so they could maintain their employment. How great is that? Story about it here:

6 years ago

Oh my gosh, I dream of going here. I remember seeing it years ago when I visited friends in Ojai. Thank you for this. It’s as delightful as I imagine! (I swear I can smell oranges just looking at these pics!)

6 years ago

Aw. I love the Inn. My parents grew up in Ojai and we would go to the spa as a special treat when we came to visit. (Thus ruining getting pedicures in nail parlors, forever). Such a beautiful, peaceful place. The farmers market is amazing and it would be worth a trip to Suzanne’s too before they close.

Carly Waters
6 years ago

Love this ! And love the Ojai Valley Inn. We just booked our 10 year anniversary there last week. June cannot come soon enough!

Karen Bowen Pooler
6 years ago

Everything at this resort is so beautiful, and they have Stained Glass plus mosaics! Love it all 🙂

6 years ago

Been dying to read! Edie I ally about the psychic reading!!

Courtney Madden
6 years ago

I really enjoyed this post (even though I live in Atlanta and wouldn’t be able to afford a weekend there) because it inspired me to splurge a little where I can and offered fun ideas for our annual girls weekend! Also, I appreciate you giving props to a well-run business! So many places are secretly run by corporate behemoths who do not treat their people right – I’m glad to support those who do. Thanks!!

6 years ago

Their 4th of July celebration is SPECTACULAR and it is such a kid friendly place. I highly recommend it for parents with small kids, so much to do with them there.

6 years ago

I teared up when I read about the staff being paid in full during the closure. It is easy to talk about doing the right thing, but it takes real commitment to put values based policies in place, especially when it involves money. I recently started working for a company that values the life that happens outside of work, and as such I have been able to go back to work, part time, in a professional capacity. I have worked for many companies that talk about supporting women and families, but this new company is the first one to actually implement and protect it. The result is working with the smartest, most functional group of people I have ever worked with, and the company is highly successful in their market.

Thank you for highlighting that aspect of your trip, I am sure that is a huge, but hidden contributor to the amazing experience you had there.

Vicki S Williams
6 years ago
Reply to  Kathryn

Won’t you name the company please?

6 years ago

I’m reading your story about Ojai on a freezing cold, grey day in muddy Devon in the UK on a Friday evening and it has been such a stress-buster. You brought the experience to life in such a warm, vivid way that it created lots of happy feelings about my own girlfriends and how important they are to me. How blissful it would have been for you to have time in a beautiful place like Ojai with people who completely get you and get excited about the same things you do as well as sharing your history and completely having your back.

6 years ago

I love the Ojai Valley Inn!! Such a special place.

6 years ago

This place looks amazing! I recently did a girls’ weekend with college friends at Indian Springs in Calistoga – this looks even better so we will keep it in mind for the future! Or I guess I could come here with my husband…but the girls’ weekend just seems more fun.

Thanks for the beautiful photos – they should pay YOU to come back, given all the wonderful publicity you just gave them!

6 years ago

What a lovely post. I’m originally from Santa Barbara, and my (now) husband and I just got married there right in the middle of the Thomas fire. We were evacuated from our venue and our backup venue and wound up at my parents’ house! I’ve really been appreciating your blog as a way to cope with some post-wedding disappointment (since it obviously didn’t turn out quite as I had hoped). So thank you!!!

6 years ago

This looks like such a fun weekend with the girls! I definitely want to go to Ojai!

6 years ago

Could you have prettier friends? I think not.

Barbara Hewitt
6 years ago

I realize that I may never be able to go to the Inn, although I have been able to visit Ojai, but I enjoyed your story so much. How wonderful that your post allowed me to be in my heart right there with you and your friends. Thank you for sharing.

6 years ago

This place is gorgeous. It looks so calm and relaxing. I’m glad y’all had a great girls weekend and well deserved I’m sure. Thanks for sharing this beautiful experience. I hope my husband and I can go in the future.

6 years ago

Nice article. Think so new form of features have included in your article. Waiting for your next article. keep posting
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6 years ago

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6 years ago

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6 years ago

The resort looks amazing! I like how the decor of the rooms and guest areas feel unique and personal. It doesn’t feel like a big, corporate property. Almost like you’re staying at a friend’s house – a very well to do and stylish friend:) I think it’s the courtyards, scale of the buildings and all the details. Plus, that view!
Also, you should do a fashion post to accompany this article. Everyone looks amazing!

6 years ago

I’ve always wanted to stay there, and now will have to make it happen. It’s so nice to hear that there are still businesses who realize that their employees are their most valuable asset and treat them accordingly. For 24 years I had an employer who did the same, and he in turn inspired loyalty and dedication from his employees. He even gave my husband and I an all-expenses, three-night stay at the Villa d’Este on Lake Como when we moved overseas. There aren’t many employers who would do that. I ended up working for him for another 20 years when we moved back home.

6 years ago

Yes! I’ve stayed here a few times. It’s really relaxing, gorgeous, with old school service. And the restaurants and spa are great too. Wonderful.

Jenna Strauss
6 years ago

As an Ojai resident, I want to say thank you for your kind words about our special town and of course, the Inn. When we (as an entire town) were evacuated in December, we didn’t know if our beautiful community would be standing. We lost well over 100 homes in the fire in the mountains, but most the town stands (thanks to incredibly brave and strong first responders.). The Ojai Valley Inn is just as you described it. It’s beautiful, generous, and an absolute privilege to visit. We’re there once a week in the summer, letting the kids run around the golf course while we enjoy a glass of wine with the sun setting on the mountains behind us. As someone mentioned, the 4th of July is magical!

Canon Printer Support
6 years ago

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John Adams
6 years ago

Great Post!
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6 years ago

We LOVE the Ojai Valley Inn. I grew up going there every summer with my family and my husband and I stayed there for our minimoon after we got married and our babymoon this past summer! We are heading back next month for our first trip without our baby 🙂

Tip for everyone – sign up for their emails! They have a great Black Friday sale (like 40% off rooms) and you only get notified via email!

Katy Beacher
6 years ago

I’m glad I found your site. Thank you for sharing your vacation. What a beautiful place to relax and “hang”.

6 years ago

I NEED those blush shoes, who makes them pretty please!