The Kuyam Treatment at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa
Most spas offer similar treatment menus that feature the same facials, body scrubs and massages. Spa lovers are hard pressed to find a one-of-a-kind treatment that is not to be missed. Look no further than the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, in Ojai, Ca., which is a sprawling 220-acre property with 308 newly refurbished guest rooms (including 72 suites) that is located about 90 miles north of Los Angeles (35 miles south of Santa Barbara). Ojai was a nominee for a Luxist Awards' Readers' Choice Award for Best Extended Stay Spa in March.
Ojai's spa offers a communal treatment that is not found anywhere else in the U.S. Called "Kuyam", this signature mud treatment combines the therapeutic effects of cleansing desert clay, dry heat and inhalation therapy, with a traditional Chumash-guided mediation. Pronounced "Koo-Yahm", Kuyam is a Chumash word which means "a place to rest together." The Chumash people were the Native Americans who originally inhabitated the Ojai Valley.
Gallery: More from the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa
The Kuyam Chamber at Ojai is a private room that is beautifully tiled and offers built in seating, including chaise lounge chairs. The room can accommodate up to eight men or eight women per session, but Ojai will not group strangers together if a private session is requested. It is a wonderful treatment to do with a group of friends or family, as I did, sharing the experience with a group of female travel writers.
The treatment costs $50 per person for a 50 minute session; if another treatment is booked that same day, the price for the Kuyam drops to $40.
The Kuyam chamber, which is a sweat room, was heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. We were provided with large terry cloth wrap-around towels for covering our bodies, but some of us wore bathing suits. Once we settled into our seats, we were given small platters containing three different types of cleansing clays, each one was made with a base desert red clay which comes from Utah and is rich in minerals.
The clays were blended with a unique blend of essential oils which provide different therapeutic values. The Kuyam Mud Mask, can be used on the face or body to draw out toxins, and to reduce itching or inflammation. An essential oil blend of organic lemongrass, spearmint, lavender, chamomile and lime with rose was added to the Utah desert clay. It encourages a gentle detoxification process while stimulating cell renewal. The Meditation Clay mask was intended the upper chest, neck and shoulder region to ease breathing and release tension. Made with essential oils including frankincense, coconut, vetiver and peppermint, it is designed to calm and clarify the mind, slowing the breath rate and supporting a meditative atmosphere. The third clay, referred to as the "Relax Clay Mask", was made with cosmetic grade Sedona clay which is rich in iron, and botanical essences including sweet orange, ginger, lavender and chamomile. Made to detoxify, it can be applied to the face and body, especially the lower chest and belly region as well as all major joints.
Some of the clays, particularly the red one, were messy, so think twice before wearing your favorite bikini. Each of the clays were thick, but easy to apply nonetheless. Once the various clays were applied, we relaxed--and sweated profusely.
Throughout the session, a recording of a Chumash chanter played, which was supposed to guide us through a mediation. His soothing voice befitted the experience, but our group opted to chat rather than meditate. There was a pot of steaming lemongrass, which was the inhalation therapy. The citrus undertones of the lemongrass are supposed to leave one feeling cleansed and serene, enhancing the meditative aspect of the treatment.
There were lavender-infused iced hand towels to place over our faces, which was refreshing and made it easier to tolerate the heat. About half-way during the treatment, a therapist walked around the room spraying our faces and bodies with lavender-infused water. After we couldn't tolerate the heat any longer, we were able to rinse off the clay in a private shower area adjacent to the Kuyam room. Afterward, we were taken to a sunny private outdoor courtyard where we were served hot mint tea and ice water as we sat in comfortable lounge chairs under umbrellas. The experience left us feeling rejuvenated and pampered.
My visit to the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa was sponsored by the resort, but the ideas and opinions expressed in this article are my own.