February 2015

On the Scene: Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego

by Marlene Goldman

The stress is building. I am scheduled to partake of a special Vino and Vinyasa wine and yoga class at Rancho Bernardo Inn north of San Diego, but my flight is delayed. There is no way I can make it on time for the start of what will be a two-day immersion in the property’s wellness offerings. Just breathe.

With a bit of luck, a few hours later, I am catching the latter part of the class, set outdoors with views of white rose bushes and Rancho’s Aragon Lawn. I have missed the lower body grounding poses such as warrior and pigeon, as well as the reds, a sampling of pinot, tempranillo and merlot, all representing the West Coast, from Napa to Washington. But I arrive just in time for a few postures and a tasting of the white wines.

The session is led by local yoga instructor Christina Newman, who is focusing on a journey of the seven chakras, or energy centers of the body.

During the second part of the session, Newman zeroes in on the upper body, heart and mind, which coincides with lighter white wines and a final sparkling wine. I am just beginning to relax.

“The yoga opens all the chakras and enhances taste and smell. Students notice that everything is heightened,” says Kate Santarsieri, the property’s spa director. “It’s great for corporate groups. It cracks people open and gets rid of inhibitions.”

We indulge at the resort’s AVANT restaurant, which sources ingredients from an on-property garden and local purveyors. Known for its gourmet cheeses and charcuterie bar, we are wined and dined and also graced with a visit from Chef Tomas Baistrocchi.

Groups can interact with the chef at his private demonstration kitchen, which seats up to 12 and allows him to personally prepare items for guests.

I retire to one of the resort’s wellness rooms that is stocked with a lavender candle, homemade body scrub, a yoga mat and yoga DVD.

The rest of my stay is pure indulgence, replete with two spa treatments. First up is Made Fresh Daily, using seasonal ingredients such as a crushed grapeseed and olive oil scrub, and barley-and-hops body wrap, served with a local craft beer.

Freshly scrubbed and mildly imbibed, I then partake of a Strawberry Rhubarb Hydrating Facial by Eminence, including a nearly edible combination of strawberry, rhubarb, rice, chickpea and oats for an exfoliation, followed by a masque and strawberry rhubarb hyaluronic serum that actually makes my skin glow.

The only other activity on the agenda is an afternoon of relaxation at the saline spa pool in a private cabana. Two days of pampered bliss. It is the flight home I am hoping is delayed.



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