Want to lose weight? Go to Cal-a-Vie

Deborah Piscione visited Cal-a-Vie to lose her remaining baby weight and gives us a run-down of activities.

Destination Vacationing

Want to lose weight? Go to Cal-a-Vie

A destination spa, a retreat, a gift for life

-Deborah Perry Piscione

Cal-a-VieI went to Cal-a-Vie to lose my final 10 pounds of pregnancy weight. In four days what I got was life-changing.

 I believe Cal-a-Vie, a destination spa in the North County of San Diego, is situated on the most beautiful place on earth. Being that I am a pastoral person, I basked in the over 200-plus acres of Tuscan-like landscape of rolling hills, vineyards, fields of lavender, and the Pacific Ocean that could be viewed from the top of the hills – these hills became all too familiar with our 6:15 a.m. “wakeup and hike” calls.

Days prior to my Cal-a-Vie adventure, I was fed up staring at my bare body in the mirror. I often wondered what my GQ-looking husband REALLY thought of my body even though he was always so sweet and forgiving since I gave birth to our three children. I had also grown tired of at looking at my fabulous Tahari suits hanging in my closet – sizes 2 and 4 – that I could no longer fit into. It was time to get rid of those 10-15 excess pounds; there was no room for any more excuses. I didn’t care that I had given birth last year, or that I was now over 40, or that I am no longer a marathon runner – a runner – yes – but six-miles is a long run these days. With three kids and a full-time job, I didn’t care where my body was statistically supposed to head, I only cared about what my body once was — I so dreadfully wanted that body again.

In preparation for my Cal-a-Vie adventure, I was asked to submit a profile asking me what I wanted to do: Lose weight? Get in better shape? Change my lifestyle? “Yes” to all of the above, I answered.

Cal-a-VieArrival day (Monday): Within minutes of my 1 p.m. arrival, I bonded with my eight other Cal-a-Vie goers – most of whom had also come by themselves — seven other women and a token man. All of us were there for very specific reasons: one just left her high-powered marketing job and was trying to figure out what’s next; one, a dean of a business school was on a major weight-loss regimen; all very accomplished people in their respective fields. By 2 p.m., I was having my consultation with Michelle, my personal event coordinator/scheduler, if you will. If I was the least dissatisfied with any of my scheduling – including my spa treatments – then I’d just pick up the phone and call Michelle, and – “poof,” a very satisfying new schedule would appear in my hands within minutes. By 5:10 p.m., I was in for reflexology after two great workouts. We also had a nutrition lecture after a scrumptious, organic dinner. Life was good!

“This is the Life” Day (Tuesday): Each morning at Cal-a-Vie, you are handed a schedule of your day-to-evening events. While I cracked up when I reviewed the five-plus workout classes on top of a rigorous morning hike at 6:15 a.m., you are allowed to opt out of anything and chose another class, nutrition consultation or Vo2 Max testing. Irrespective of the fact that I had a cold that conveniently kicked in the morning I flew down there, I sucked it up and made the most of my Cal-a-Vie visit. What amazed me is that the program is designed to kick your butt, but then replenish and pamper you throughout the process. You could get through four straight hours of workout classes, because you knew most of the late afternoon/early evening you were going to spend in the spa.


“In Serious Pain” Day (Wednesday): Feeling the pain. Not sure I have ever felt this kind of pain, but I didn’t care. I was determined to push forward. I can handle it, I told myself – it’s not like I am in the middle of Afghanistan getting shot at. I accepted my day schedule very humbly and noticed the five class plus hike schedule (although I perk up at the look at my schedule at 3 p.m. and beyond), and thought “can I do this?” My schedule was as follows:

1) 9 a.m. – Latin Dance

2) 10 a.m. – Abdominal Core Circuit

3) 11 a.m. – Core Pole Training

4) 12 p.m. – Triathlon Water Workout

5) 1 p.m. – Lunch

6) 2 p.m. – Vinyasa Flow Yoga

7) 3 p.m. – Coffee body scrub

8) 4 p.m. – Thermal bath

9) 5 pm. – Head and scalp massage

Cal-a-VieDeparture Day (Thursday): No mercy here either. Even though it is departure day, they have a schedule for me: Pilates at 9 a.m., Zumba (dance) at 10 a.m., and a 10:45 a.m. departure. Somehow someone forgot to schedule me a shower. Regardless, I had complete withdrawal from leaving this place – and the friends I had made. My gang of eight?…We all were women in our 40′s and 50s, and acted on many occasions like school girls. It was wonderful, and we all made a pact to keep in touch and return next year.

What was life-changing for me? As health conscious as I am, I didn’t know: 1) about agave and Stevia as sugar substitutes; 2) you could cook without sugar; 3) I could work out five and six hours a day, and feel satisfied on 1200 calories; 4) how much junk – high-fructose corn syrup – we now put in our bodies, sometimes just in the form of flavored waters; and 5) that I truly can lose this weight with a little discipline.

What sets Cal-a-Vie apart from any other spa on earth?

1) On average, Cal-a-Vie hosts 15 people at a time, so your experience with your fellow Cal-a-Vie -ers and trainers is very intimate.

2) There literally is one-on-one training for every class you take.

3) They provide clothes for you to wear while you are there (junior high Champion grays, but who cares?…I didn’t have to bring them or take them with me).

4) The chef cooks orgasmic food with NO BUTTER or SUGAR — on a 1200 calorie/day plan!

5) There is a 5:1 ratio of staff to customer, and you feel pampered from the moment you wake up to the moment you crash in bed.

6) The spa treatments are luxurious – yes – but designed to get you out of bed the next day. The approach is very holistic, so the program is designed for you to workout hard, but recovery and rejuvenation are top of mind.

7) The spa is privately owned by John and Terri Havens, and Mrs. Havens has spared no expense in its 200 acres – there is beauty everywhere.

8) Every staff member not only knows your name – remember when businesses actually cared that you were their customer?

9) There is sketchy cell phone service so that you are hard to reach, and there is rarely ever anyone else ever on a cell phone!

10) Best part of all – Cal-a-Vie staffers think for you. I didn’t have to lift a finger, or open my wallet. I just completely indulged in some well-deserved pampering.


Cal-a-Vie offers week-long sessions and modified three and four-night plans, inclusive of all meals and spa treatments. Here’s what your plan may look like:


Begin on Sunday afternoon and end the following Sunday morning (7 nights)

European Plan

Includes 3 meals per day, private accommodations, 16 therapeutic treatments*, all fitness classes, nutritional lecture, cooking demonstration, fitness evaluation with wellness profile and a complimentary makeup lesson with application.

• 4 Massages
• Aromatherapy Massage
• Hot Stone Massage
• Thalassotherapy
• Ayurvedic Mud Scrub
• Reflexology
• Hydrotherapy
• Hot Stone Facial
• 2 Facials
• Hair & Scalp Treatment
• Hand Treatment with Paraffin
• Foot Treatment with Paraffin
• Polish for Hands & Feet
*may be substituted for equal or lesser value

California Plan

Includes 3 meals per day, private accommodations, 6 therapeutic treatments*, all fitness classes, nutritional lecture, cooking demonstration and a fitness evaluation with wellness profile.

• 6 Massages
*may be substituted for equal or lesser value


A modified stay at Cal-a-Vie® Health Spa
The La Petite Weeks are structured in both 3 night and 4 night programs

3-Night Plan
Arrive on Sunday, Depart on Wednesday
Includes 3 meals per day, private accommodations, 6 therapeutic treatments*, all fitness classes, nutritional lecture, and a cooking demonstration.

• 2 Massages
• Reflexology
• Hydrotherapy
• Facial
• Hair and Scalp Treatment
*may be substituted for equal or lesser value

 4-Night Plan
Arrive on Wednesday, Depart on Sunday
Includes 3 meals per day, private accommodations, 9 therapeutic treatments*, all fitness classes, nutritional lecture, and a cooking demonstration.

• 3 Massages
• Reflexology
• Hydrotherapy
• Facial
• Hair and Scalp Treatment
• Manicure
• Pedicure
*may be substituted for equal or lesser value

Reservations and Information/(888) 373-8773 Toll Free/(760) 842-6831/Vista, California/www.cal-a-vie.com

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One thought on “Want to lose weight? Go to Cal-a-Vie

  1. Crista says:

    Wow this place looks incredible!

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