Poolside workout at Omni La Costa in Carlsbad CA

Poolside workout at Omni La Costa in Carlsbad CA

By Eileen Ogintz

CARLSBAD, CA (Day 1) — Everyone is eating lunch in bathrobes—in public at a resort.  And no one is batting an eye.

That’s because we’re at the Spa Café at the Omni La Costa Resort famous for its Bellini’s (sparkling wine and peach, blood orange or raspberry puree) and healthy eats.  (I can vouch for the chicken lettuce wraps.)

After co-chairing the TMS Family Travel conference here in November, I’m finally able to relax and there can’t be a better spot.  This is, after all, considered a top wellness resort in the country with a fitness center, expansive spa with its own pool as well as café, yoga center, golf and tennis.

“But wellness that doesn’t mean sacrificing everything, eating 500 calories a day,” says the spa director Michelle Frey.  Instead, it means activities that make you feel better, whether a fitness class (there are 45 to choose from), yoga (there is a Depak Chopra Yoga center here and every guest gets a coupon for a free yoga class), meditation (the room was packed one recent morning), and of course the spa where I indulged in an excellent  “Mindfulness Massage”  followed by the steam and hot tub.

Spa pool at Omni La Costa

Spa pool at Omni La Costa

“What we have tried to do is create a wellness program across the resort,” says Frey.  That includes kids.  Yes there is an impressive waterslide here and a kid’s club but there is also a kids fitness program, junior tennis and golf (this resort is famous for both sports) and even a family yoga class on Saturdays.

Every week, there are some 177 activities offered—starting with Pilates and yoga classes that cost just $10.  There are tennis classes and clinics, daily complimentary family crafts, s’mores nights, golf lessons and signature spa treatments like a bamboo massage (warm bamboo stalks supposedly help circulation).

Fitness classes vary from a 100 minute spin-sculpt combo class that is said to burn 1000 calories to aqua Zumba, a morning walk around the property, stroller strides for moms and dads, tweens and teens strength training 101 and a “mindful” walk to help you relax .   I like that some of the activities—like the morning walks—are free and others just $10 or $15.

People also come to spend several days taking Yoga classes and special spa treatments at the Chopra Center; the restaurants offer Chopra-approved menus (think acorn squash and quinoa).

I liked that the kids’ menu offered a small grilled salmon with asparagus and roast potatoes, a grilled chicken breast and a turkey sandwich as well as burgers.

The Marketplace where guests go for morning coffee also offers fruit smoothies. “Wellness is something different to everyone….you want to feel better but you don’t want to sacrifice everything on vacation,” said the spa director

On the other hand, today’s vacationers don’t necessarily want to indulge all the time, she continued.  They want to incorporate activities that will make them feel better.

And not feel guilty when they indulge.


Time for dinner!