Mother’s Day: Carmel Valley Ranch, Cal-a-Vie, more escapes for Mom

Special to the Los Angeles Times

Ask a hard-pressed mom what she wants forMother’s Dayand she’s apt to say she’d like a break from chores. No cleaning, shopping, cooking, volunteering, driving or organizing. Herewith, a few luxurious getaways where moms will never be asked to do any of the above. (Moms, we suggest you leave this article in a strategic location.)

Carmel Valley Ranch

Carmel Valley Ranch takes great pains to cater to families and adults — separately. Although it is an ideal retreat for families, it is also one of the most serene places to go with friends or partners.

After a $35-million remodel, the 500-acre property reopened in 2010 with 139 suites, a Pete Dye-designed golf course, a 10,000-square-foot spa, two restaurants and a state-of-the-art sports facility.


For those sans families, there is an adults-only swimming pool, hot tub and Spa Aiyana, all of which look out on acres of oak trees, grass and grapevines. With one of the best climates in the U.S. (300 days of sunshine), this is a great place to reboot your exercise regimen or stretch the one you have.

A short shuttle ride below the main lodge is the River Ranch, the club (where children are permitted), with a pool and hot tub, a cafe, a gym, tennis courts, a sports court and boccie ball. There’s even child care here, so you can partake of the complimentary activities such as hilltop yoga.

After a morning at the spa or in the great outdoors and an afternoon tasting vintages from Carmel and Monterey wineries, wander through the gardens to the Lodge Restaurant for fine dining on local, organic food or a tasting in the wine cellar (surrounded by thousands of bottles of excellent vintages). Don’t forget to budget time in its store, one of the hippest resort shops in America.

One Old Ranch Road, Carmel, Calif.; (855) 687-7262, Doubles from about $410 a night.

Costa Careyes Resort

If you’ve worried about safety in Mexico, Costa Careyes will assuage any doubts. Built by the arty scion of an Italian banking family, it’s a closed community with discreet security protecting the boundaries of the 5,000 acres of untouched jungle and empty beach between Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta.

Careyes is the ultimate splurge location for girlfriends (or couples if you are benevolent enough to include the spouses). Rent one of the private castles, villas or casitas that dot the coastline and lounge like Riviera glitterati. If you rent a castle (they sleep up to 16), you’ll have a butler serving you margaritas beside your private pool. Castles also come with a housekeeper and a chef, so you never need lift a pinkie or leave the premises. You can even have the spa treatments come to you.

With open-air spaces making the most of the almost perpetually balmy climate, the rooms are lofty and sublimely arty-cool with bright-on-white décor. In the center of the low-density development is a “village” with several restaurants, an outdoor movie screen, an art gallery and shops.


If you’re keen to be at the center of the action (and the budget doesn’t extend to castles), the brightly colored casitas overlook the cerulean sea from a bougainvillea-covered hillside. Alas, no butler and maid with these, but you do have your own kitchen.

The Careyes Polo Field hosts an annual international competition, so if you do choose to come down from your castle you can sip Champagne while mingling with the horsey set. If polo isn’t your thing, check out the monumental artworks and spiritual sanctuaries on the property such as the Copa del Sol, a giant concrete cup from which you can watch the sunset, or the fallen meteorite at the center of a beach-side labyrinth walk.

If lying around all day being waited on sounds dull, you can kayak, snorkel, dive, fish, horseback ride on the beach, play golf or tennis or help out at the Careyes turtle protection program. Alternatively, if you are eager to come home with a new skill, you can remain in your castle and arrange for a cooking class in gourmet Mexican cuisine.

Highway 200, Careyes, Mexico; 011-52-315-3510-320, Doubles in a casita from $400 a night. Castles from $4,000 a night.


Ranch at Rock Creek

Although it may be hard to persuade your husband or partner to accompany you on a yoga or spa weekend, it shouldn’t be difficult to get him onboard for a trip to the Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana. It’s the ultimate luxurious “camp” for adults (although kids are accepted), and you could spend weeks here and still not do everything.

Set on 6,400 acres of rolling ranch land a 90-minute drive from Missoula, near the old mining town of Philipsburg in western Montana, this place can make you swell with pride at America’s astounding beauty. With accommodations that include lodge suites, stand-alone family houses and riverside tent cabins, there are never more than 80 guests at the ranch.

If it’s romance you want, book Trapper, a remote luxury wood-and-canvas cabin with a private hot tub. The guides are skilled and knowledgeable in their fields, and they’ll have you on an adventure twice a day if you’re up for it. In winter, options include downhill skiing at the nearby family-owned but surprisingly steep Discovery Mountain, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sleigh riding, snowmobiling and sport clay shooting.


The rest of the year there is horseback riding, fly fishing in Rock Creek or in stocked trout ponds, endless hiking, mountain biking, shooting, paintball, rafting, archery and wildlife spotting (the area has birds, moose, elk, beavers and bears aplenty).

By night, you eat gourmet home cooking in the Granite Lodge dining room and then head to the Saloon to bowl in the four-lane bowling alley, play billiards, watch a video in the screening room or sing karaoke.

Philipsburg, Mont.; (877) 786-1545, From $950 a person a night. Includes meals and all ranch-based activities and guides. Children ages 3-10, are $700 a night.



If you feel the need to whip yourself into shape, start a diet, expand your fitness routine or break bad habits, Cal-a-Vie is the place to do it — on a long weekend alone, with a group or with a daughter. It’s focused on health, nutrition and pampering. An hour’s drive north of downtown San Diego, Cal-a-Vie is a 200-acre slice of French Provence, complete with a 17th century chapel from Europe.

You start the day at 6 a.m. with a choice of hikes — either a butt-kicker into the surrounding hills or a brisk stroll on the golf course — then return for homemade granola or an egg white omelet, both of which are served in small portions but are satisfying. If you are on a particular diet, the staff will cook it for you.

After breakfast you begin as many as four morning workout classes — BOSU Pilates, Latin dance, spinning and aqua boot camp, among dozens of others. Or you could skip class and play tennis, water volleyball or golf, or swim laps in one of the two pools. Then comes a late lunch — also small, delicious and deceptively filling — and off to the spa.

Aware that one-on-one time with teens is difficult to orchestrate, Cal-a-Vie hosts a Teen Week in which mothers and daughters get away together to focus on health and fitness. To entice the teens, a young celebrity hosts the week. This year (June 17-24) actor Isabelle Fuhrman, 15, and her singer-songwriter sister Madeline, 17, will be hanging with the daughters. (You may not know them, but your kids will. Isabelle plays the part of Clove in the movie"The Hunger Games.”)


29402 Spa Havens Way, Vista, Calif.; (888) 373-8773, Packages from $4,195 (three-night plan). Includes three meals and two snacks, accommodations, all fitness classes and six spa treatments.