The Spa That Saved Me
So about once a month, one of my best friends, Amy, disappears with her family to Pala Casino Spa and Resort (owned by the Pala Band of Mission Indians) for a quick little R&R from LA. At about 90 minutes away, it makes sense.
Last month, she and I were generously treated to some of the best that Pala had to offer. As some of you may know, I am not a big gambler. But it is worth noting that according to spokesperson Jack Taylor, Indian gaming is flourishing where other gambling centers are hurting. The casino and resort is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
So my post is really about the things non-gaming related that I enjoyed about PALA most.
- The SPA! The Spa. The spa. Although it is a 10,000 square foot spa, it manages to feel like small, intimate spa offering the type of luxury treatments that make this Vanity Girl really happy. A hot Jacuzzi, rain showers, steam room, sauna, outdoor lounging area and outdoor showers all serve to get you in the right state-of-mind (and body) to really enjoy your treatment(s). We opted for Swedish massages, and added the dry brush treatment and body butter for a little extra pampering. Later that night, we went back for facials. And the day after … we just hung out and used the Jacuzzi, etc.Psst! Stay tuned for their “K-Lift Facial” which will integrate the strength of multiple energy sources in the form of LED Light Therapy, Impulse Microcurrent and Transdermal Delivery. According the spa director, benefits of this advanced, state-of-the-art facial will include awakening cell functions to younger levels, accelerating cell repair, re-educating muscle tone in the face and the triggering of DNA regeneration with cell repair. I’m in!
- The treatment rooms: Yes, couples massages can be very romantic – but they are also really nice bonding time for mothers/daughters, sisters or in the case of Amy and me, life-long friends. Some of the 14 treatment rooms offer an indoor or outdoor option. It was cold so we opted for indoors, but there is something so decadent about getting a massage outdoors.
- State-of-the-art fitness center. One of my favorite things to do is to work out before spa pampering, even just a quick cardio session to start the detox process. This small gym is well equipped with nice, clean machines and views of the Palomar Mountains such that you almost feel like you are running outdoors. But you are not. You are inside on a nice treadmill with your water bottle and towel and iPod.
- The Buffet at Choices. The food in general is amazing, but the buffet is really incredible. It’s the largest in Southern California. I was impressed by the variety and the made-to-order quality of the service. Like you can order a steak and have it cooked in front of you. If buffets aren’t your thing, there are 10 restaurants to choose from.
- Pastries. Under the direction of award-winning executive pastry chef Albert P. Cruz, the pastries are really phenomenal. For instance, most buffets have those generic little pastries with paper underneath, nicely lined up cruise ship style. Not here. Choices stages the pastries behind a nice glass display and someone in a cute white hat has tongs and serves them to you, like in an upscale pastry shop. Homemade marshmallows, hand dipped cheesecake balls on sticks and other rare sweet treats await you depending on Chef Cruz’ inspiration and choice of ingredients.
- The pool comes complete with 12 private pool-side cabanas and again, the views of the mountains. Perfect for a little nap outdoors, or some type of fruity cocktail situation. There is also a dual-temperature outdoor Jacuzzi, and if it’s anything like the spa Jacuzzi, get ready to re-lax.
- Location, location, location. Nestled in the Palomar Mountains of Northern San Diego County, even the windy drive up starts to get you in the frame of mind that yes, you have the left the city. And can you hear that? It’s called PEACE AND QUIET due to the restricted airspace overhead.
- Easy, breezy. Probably the thing I liked most. This is a straight-forward, affordable, no-nonsense getaway if you want a little pampering with zero attitude. The distance between your clean, wi-fi equipped room is a quick jaunt past the pool and outdoor gardens right to the spa. With 507 rooms, it still feels oddly boutique … maybe because of the way the property curves around the pool and gardens. And when you are in the private outdoor chaise lounge after your outdoor rain shower reading your favorite book, you really do forget everything else.
And for those of you that like to gamble? Pala Casino Spa & Resort includes a Las Vegas-style casino with 2,000 slot machines, 15 poker tables and 87 table games.
The property also offers 40,000 square feet of meeting and convention space. During my days at American Cancer Society, we would hold large national conventions and it seems to me that something like this would be a good choice for a large organization like that. I also thought it would be a good option for yoga or fitness gurus who want to offer some type of fitness retreat. The backdrop of the mountains and the proximity of the spa and fitness center and open gardens give you lots of options. I was also told the chefs will work with you to create figure-friendly menus for that type of thing. Like the ability to create your own Biggest Loser-type camp.
Honors awarded to Pala Casino Spa & Resort over the years include an AAA Four-Diamond Award winner for seven consecutive years, 2009 Spas of America Best Casino Spa and the 2009 Southern California Gaming Guide Best Casino Spa.
For more information, visit their website.