Summer was in full swing …and so was the SAG-AFTRA strike.  I had some extra time on my hands as most film and TV work had come to a startling standstill.  It seemed like a good time to take a step back from Hollywood, take off my always on actress/self-promotion hat, and get some fresh air and perspective.  I had not ventured out to Ojai in a half-dozen years but had heard news of Ojai Valley Inn having undergone a major renovation of their property, including Spa Ojai, just in time for their 100-year anniversary.  In lieu of stressing about being unemployed for the foreseeable future I figured I’d take advantage of this moment to re-group and refresh.  So, I headed out of the city and into the Valencia orange groves and rolling hills of Ojai, about 90 miles north of Los Angeles and 15 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean.  The vibrant land has been a cherished place for many California cultures over the years including the Chumash Native Americans, citrus and avocado farmers, famous yogis, and even more famous movie stars who have chosen Ojai as their country retreat.

30,000 square foot spa at Ojai Valley Inn

Nestled in a peaceful coastal valley on over 200 oak tree filled acres, the contemporary Spanish hacienda styled Ojai Valley Inn offers many active and relaxing pleasures.  There is a 30,000 square foot spa, an epic golf course, multiple swimming pools, boutique shopping, apiary, artist cottage, apothecary, bike path, the iconic The Farmhouse at Ojai event space, and seven unique dining options that range from quick-casual to refined.  The Inn has been touted in Condé Nast Traveler as one of the “Top 100 Hotels” and chosen by Travel + Leisure readers as one of the “Best Hotels in the World”.  Ojai Valley Inn combines relaxed California lifestyle with modern country club luxury to create a one-of-a-kind legendary destination.  Whether it’s the high-vibe vortex, serene views, pink sunsets, or sophisticated cuisine, solace seekers of all kinds have been drawn to Ojai Valley Inn as a truly special place.

Kira Reed Lorsch at Ojai Valley Inn

I love farm-to-table food and was eager to sample all the savory selections Ojai Valley Inn had to offer.  Afterall, with Nancy Silverton of Mozza Restaurant Group as culinary ambassador, you know the epicurean experiences will be out of this world.  On my first night, after checking in to “Casa Loma” (aka Hill House – be aware there are a lot of levels here) and a leisurely walk around the grassy grounds, I showered and put on a summer dress to be ready for my first fantastic meal of the trip: a famed “Pink Sky Moment” timed al fresco dinner at Olivella.

Dinner at Oliverra

Chef Andrew Foskey’s fine dining restaurant, Olivella, open 5 days a week with a daily changing menu, offers distinct local flavors combined with Italian influences, stunning views of the golf course, and impeccable service.  A refreshing tuna tartare amuse bouche was followed by caviar surprisingly served on a creamy cloud of panna cotta­, dusted with shaved truffle, and finished with crispy potato chips.  Next came perfect puffy pillows of pasta (a ricotta gnocchi from scratch) then sweet summer scallops with locally grown zucchini and tender squash blossoms.  All of this was accompanied by fresh baked whole wheat sourdough bread – dense and fluffy at the same time – sturdy and rare like the east west facing mountain range that surrounds the grounds.  The meal was officially complete with a playful house-made soft-serve ice cream sundae topped with artisan “Almond Roca” and rich chocolate espresso sauce.  Dessert was accompanied by a picture-perfect pink sunset.  Everything about the divine dinner felt authentically Ojai.  Fresh, elegant, and fun.

Picture-perfect pink sunset

Just when I thought I could never eat again it was time for breakfast.  It seemed fitting I passed an “of the moment” A-list actress leaving the indoor-outdoor dining room with her family as I arrivedOf course, the young and beautiful come here to escape Hollywood.  What’s not to love?  The Oak restaurant, overlooking verdant vales so lush it almost makes me want to take up golf, is a great start to another lovely day.  There are plenty of healthy yet decadent selections to choose from including an antioxidant packed acai bowl, fresh-from-the-oven vegan banana bread, and a terrific local honey watermelon kombucha.  Yes.  There is a lot of eating at Ojai Valley Inn.  It’s a tough job but I am up for the challenge!

The Oak Restaurant at Ojai Valley Inn

Another highlight of the property is the artisan market Libby’s.  It has a takeaway counter with coffee drinks, pastries, and sandwiches.  Libby’s also curates a variety of cookbooks, the Inn’s own handmade signature items, and local gourmet brands for the perfect take home souvenirs.  I picked up some Ojai Valley Olive Oil Company flavored vinegars and locally sourced and harvested Ojai Citrus Honey.  The market also features a sweet selection of hand-scooped Santa Barbara made McConnell’s ice cream.

Libby's Restaurant at Ojai Valley

Libby’s is right across from Indigo, the relatively quiet, full-service, adults only swimming pool. Indigo serves gourmet-casual bites, locally inspired cocktails like lavender lemonade concoctions, and my new favorite treat Nancy Silverton’s “Nancy’s Fancy” gelato minis.  As you might imagine I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as too much ice cream.  Thank God for the grown-up pool during a busy family vacation season.  Not one 10-year-old was screaming “Marco Polo” at the top of their lungs all afternoon.  The young children have been relegated to the far-off Pixie Pool.  Serenity now.

Swimming Pool at Ojai Valley Inn

Being a complete spa junkie, I was eager to try one of Spa Ojais unique Signature Experiences.  I chose the Orange Blossom and Honey Wrap and am so happy I did.  California dry summers can suck the life out of my skin, so I was craving some deep penetrating moisture.  I got just that plus a healthy dose of citrus honey aromatherapy.  The therapist began the treatment with a brisk body brushing for exfoliation.  Then warm honey blended with orange blossom and coconut oil was applied all over before being cocooned in a warm blanket.  I received a heavenly scalp massage with hair serum while all the essential oils slowly seeped in.  The experience concluded with a shea butter body rub.  I left lusciously soft …and in a full-on spa-brain haze.

Kira Lorsch taking a bath

A visit to Ojai Valley Inn also includes access to their gym and a variety of fitness and wellness classes like yoga, spinning, and TRX.  Private instruction and hiking guides are also available.  I chose to start each day with a walk down to the Spa Village for a complimentary outdoor workout class of the day.  I particularly enjoyed a fun “Core & More” group session and a yoga class set to a soundtrack of classic rock.  Their spa shop carries a nice selection of workout wear and swimsuits.  I grabbed a Barbie pink Spiritual Gangster legging and a replacement for my worn-to-the-threads white Helen Jon bikini I can’t live without.  I met a lovely Television Academy Foundation publicist by the spa’s Energy Pool.  We got to chatting about the good work they do providing internships to help young people get their start in the entertainment business.  I told her how our Robert H. Lorsch Foundation named a seat in their Wolf Theatre to give back for all the Emmys have given me.  With so many showbiz people flocking here for a respite, they may need to re-name Ojai Valley: “Hollywood North”.

Ojai Valley Inn at Night

After just a few days of food, sun, and spa, that sometimes-elusive feeling of contentment had set in.  The summer night air kissed my skin as I wandered back to my room on the final night of my stay.  As I gazed up at a sky full of stars – real life ones not actors on a screen – I was completely at peace in the present moment.   The dizzying buzz of La La Land was but a distant dream that will be lived once again soon enough.  Thank you, Ojai.  Until we meet again.

 “Find Your Moment” at Ojai Valley Inn: