Ojai valley inn & spa, California, USA

IN 1922, a millionaire glass manufacturer from Ohio named Edward Drummond Libbey, who had made his home in Ojai (pronounced Oh-Hi) California, had a dream. He wanted to build the greatest golf course the state had ever seen. So he commissioned the renowned golf course designer George C Thomas and hired architect Wallace Neff to build a Spanish Colonial style clubhouse.

Unfortunately Libbey died soon after it was completed. A few years later the clubhouse (now called the Hacienda) was turned into an intimate inn. During the Forties, it became a popular sanctuary for Hollywood greats such as Bing Crosby, Clark Gable and Judy Garland. (These days you might bump into Goldie Hawn or Sharon Stone).

Over the years, the inn has grown into a sprawling 220-acre resort with the gradual addition of a conference centre and ballroom, business centre, lap pools, new guest rooms located in half a dozen adobe-styled buildings, a ranch with stables and party barn and most recently, a large spa that resembles a Mediterranean villa and herb gardens with Balinese-inspired tea house.

Location, location, location

The Ojai Valley Inn and Spa is at 905 Country Club Road, Ojai, California (001 805 646 1111, www.ojairesort.com), near the small town of Ojai in a valley surrounded by the Topa Topa Mountains.

Time to international airport: an hour's drive to Santa Barbara airport, or two hours to Los Angeles International airport.

Transport: the Ojai will organise a shuttle bus to pick you up at either airport, which costs $120 (about £85) from Santa Barbara and $138 (around £98) from Los Angeles.

Are you lying comfortably?

There are 195 rooms, 13 suites and two luxurious penthouse apartments located on the top floor of the spa building. The Hacienda rooms are preferable to the rooms in the newer, more sterile buildings near the spa, but these come with a heftier price tag.

Freebies: The Aveda beauty products that are generously supplied in the bathrooms smell almost as heavenly as the herb gardens.

Keeping in touch: in-room internet connections are available, but come with a substantial fee. Instead, take advantage of the business centre (open daily from 8am to 4pm).

The bottom line

Rooms start at $275 (about £197) per room per night. This does not include meals or spa treatments (such as the decadent $180 synchronised massage – where two masseuses work on you at the same time).

I'm not paying that: Oaks at Ojai (001 805 646 5573, 122 East Ojai Avenue, Ojai, www.oaksspa. com) is a nearby, weight-loss spa that has been around since 1918. Oaks has rooms costing from $150 to $230 based on full-board accommodation and including classes.