Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

MAR-APR 2019

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MI CASITA ES SU CASITA Experiencing sunny SoCal hospitality at R ancho Valencia Written by Caylee Matthews "Welcome to our home," said the lovely attendant who greeted me by name as he offered me a blood orange iced tea in the courtyard of Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, the only Relais & Châteaux property in Southern California. I could hardly imagine a better setting to call home for a few days: 45-acres that were once part of a 1,000-acre orange grove in the midst of a high-end residential neighborhood just 25 miles north of downtown San Diego. Originally opened in 1989 and owned by an adroit and wellness-oriented San Diego-based investment group since 2010, the resort closed for 10 months as part of a $30 million property-wide refresh completed in October of 2012. Even with the opulent upgrades, the new owners worked with the original architect to ensure that the buildings and grounds remained quintessential Southern California, from the Spanish Colonial architecture to the abundant bright pink bougainvillea. Meshing well with the surrounding residential area, the 49 all- suite casitas average a generous 1,000 square feet, and have either a private garden patio or outdoor spa patio with a jacuzzi. The interiors of the guest rooms boast bespoke rustic-style furnishings, vaulted beamed ceilings, brightly hued commissioned artwork from Mexico City that pops against the warm vanilla-colored walls and wood tones, sumptuous bed linens, walk-in closets, and enormous bathrooms with deep soaking tubs. My favorite design feature, which I came to appreciate on my very first morning, was a console table outside the front door of my casita, which facilitated daily delivery of sunshine in a glass—aka freshly squeezed orange juice— along with my newspaper of choice. Call me old fashioned, but I relished in what I saw as an invitation to ease into each day. Activities and amenities at Rancho Valencia embody the "work hard, play hard" ethos. For instance, I had no qualms about indulging in a Baja chorizo and egg burrito at breakfast, a signature Rancho burger at lunch (they had me at black truffle aioli), or a bite or two of dessert at dinner, knowing that I'd need plenty of fuel to power me through each day's packed itinerary. With 95 complimentary fitness classes each week, ranging from hard-core cardio to yoga for beginners, fitness junkies will think they have found heaven-on-earth. An offering of an après- class cold-pressed juice or protein shake is a nice reward and serves as a little extra motivation for those who aren't as keen on exercising. For a more freestyle calorie burn on property, guests can partake in biking (the resort has a partnership with Italian bike manufacturer Pinarello), hiking, croquet, and bocce ball. A tee time at one of five nearby country clubs can be arranged by the concierge. Serenity Yoga Pavilion slmag.net 33

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