The Screenplay: Cal-a-Vie, CA
Behind the scenes at southern California’s Eurochic retreat.
Fade in. Countryside exterior pre-dawn. A lovely ambient light caresses the rolling hills and valley in Vista, California, 40 miles north of San Diego. The camera follows the sun’s rays over the undulating hills as it slowly pans 24 Mediterranean-style bungalows. Emerging from behind the crest of a nearby hilltop is the 17th-century Chapel of the Convent of the Carmelites. The lens focuses on one of the stained-glass windows. All is quiet. There are no Carmelites. There is no one. The chapel is completely empty.
Cut! Cut! What’s going on? Where are all the people meditating?
Lowly Production Assistant
It’s nearly 7 a.m., chief. They’re probably hiking the hills.
Get me a writer over here!
There is a break in the action while the lowly P.A. runs off to do the director’s bidding.
Where are my actors? We can at least get some rehearsal time in here.
Even More Lowly P.A.
We can’t disturb them right now. Two of them are getting seaweed thalassotherapy wraps and the rest are either booked for the Vichy shower or are having their muscles stimulated with magnets.
Enter the Producer
Producer (sotto voce)
Sweetheart, be cool. This is Cal-a-Vie very high tone. We’ll get the shot. We have all day.
A day. That’s it? A day?
One day. But it’s one day in paradise. Most people are here for three days, seven days, or more. But we’ll do one. Always leave ’em wanting more, right, sweetheart?
Twenty-four hours is not enough.
But what a day it is! Up at 6 a.m. for a session with the tennis pro, a light but fabulous breakfast, and three hours of stretching, yoga, aerobics, weight training, Pilates. All with breaks for the most refreshing revitalizer you will ever taste: tomato juice with vegetable and herbs. Think of them as Bloody Marys without the vodka. Then water volleyball for the competitive types and, finally, lunch.
Picture this. After all that work and sweat, it’s, what, two o’clock? That’s when the pleasure starts. Massages, facials, hydrotherapy treatments, naps by the pool. Then some pampering, a nonalcoholic-cocktail party, and a sumptuous dinner that no one believes is as healthy as it is. And did I tell you that this place has the most perfect weather in the country?
Sure, fine. But the monastery? What’s that all about?
They moved it here from France. Dates back to 1615. It’s where we meditate and make mandalas.
Mandalas. Hindu symbols of the universe. You create them with glue and tissue paper while sitting on a pillow. Very therapeutic and very Carl Jung–chic. Then there’s a poetry circle and a drumming session at the labyrinth as the sun sets.
Hey, baby, it’s show business. We need to chill out. Let’s all join hands for a hot-stone massage.
Enter the Lowly P.A.
Excuse me, sirs. We’ve booked you those treatments. Your appointments start in 15 minutes.
Those interested in booking at Cal-a-Vie should call 866-772-4283 or visit cal-a-vie.com. A seven-night package, including all meals, classes, and six treatments, starts at $6,895 a person.