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Relaxation should be at least one of the supreme objectives of family travel. At the resorts highlighted in this site, your car is virtually unnecessary other than for arrival and departure because all of your needs have already been anticipated and covered in advance. For instance, La Quinta Resort and Spa, Carlsbad's Four Season's Aviara, Hotel Del Coronado, Ojai Valley Inn and Spa, and the San Francisco Ritz-Carlton, boast a series of boutiques for both adults and children right on the premises, creating their own small village ambiances where guests can spend a full day buying artwork, elegant attire, sporting equipment, and unique baby and children items without ever leaving the grounds.

With only two exceptions, all of the resorts included here offer their guests anywhere from one to five of their own restaurants and/or room-service, so the food dilemma faced by Dee and Aaron (read their story here) is totally eliminated. One exception, The Glorietta Bay Inn in Coronado, instead provides a convenient food delivery service from a variety of local restaurants for its guests, not to mention it is located in the heart of downtown Coronado within close walking distance of many fine restaurants, so driving is still not necessary.

One luxury family destination with outstanding food service is The La Costa Resort and Spa (which also hosts Camp La Costa and Camp La Costa at Night, two excellent children's programs ) with four main restaurants and two lounges. In addition to this convenience, guests can order from the menus of any of the resort's restaurants without ever leaving their rooms. They can select the special spa cuisine--light dishes of various kinds of seafood, chicken, filet mignon, and vegetables, where the calories and fat grams are presented in the menu. Or guests can order richer fare such as Maine lobster (which I happily devoured in my room), sautéed scampi, or seared mahi mahi. A children's menu is also available until 10:00 p.m., consisting of entrées such as chicken fingers, spaghetti with meat sauce, pizza, macaroni and cheese, and cheeseburgers. A special kid's desert menu is included consisting of ice cream, cookies, and strawberries and whipped cream. Nicholas (read their story here) would probably have been quite content with such a menu, and, had Dee and Aaron planned ahead and selected this particular San Diego destination, they all could have enjoyed a relaxing evening eating dinner from their room. Alternatively, Dee, Aaron, and Nicholas might have elected to jaunt over to Pisces, the resort's fine gourmet seafood restaurant, which although is highly romantic and upscale, has proved to also be child-friendly.

Above all, these resorts are designed especially for parents to indulge not only their appetites, but also their bodies and minds. For instance, a diversity of sports are available: golf, tennis, swimming, biking, croquet, as well as state-of-the art gyms. Mom and Dad can also treat themselves to the spa: a customized massage, facial, or body wrap. Lorraine Park, spa director at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa, explains that, "in a day where everything is done with computers, we forget how to have a human touch. Spas are really about ways to de-stress. For the hour you're getting a treatment, you're not thinking about anything except taking care of yourself"1. Many of us who persevere overtime at maintaining careers and raising little ones are much in need of this self-time, especially since sophisticated spas are growing increasingly specialized in their massage repertoire, enabling us to select the ones most closely suited to our needs. Aside from the usual variety of shiatsu, deep tissue, Swedish, and sports massages, new types are constantly being added to the spa menus. Most recently, exotic additions such as table Thai massage and reiki chakra balancing can be found.

We at have been especially pleased to see a series of maternity treatments currently being launched at several resorts included here. If you are a pregnant woman on vacation, a pre-natal massage can be just what is needed for your aching back and legs. The Ojai Valley Inn and Spa delivers a standout pre-natal facial and massage. At some spas, the massage therapists simply massage the Mother-to-be on her side, sometimes with a regular pillow, and sometimes with nothing. In contrast, this exceptional spa is equipped with specialized recessed pregnancy pillows which allow the pregnant woman to lie on her stomach for perhaps one of the only times during her pregnancy. The pillow cradles and absorbs the weight of her stomach, keeping the pressure off of the fetus. The masseuse will then adjust the pillow according to the Mom's trimester. While listening to soft instrumentals, in a dimly lit room, the masseuse works on unkinking the aggregate knots in the mom-to-be's back.

All pregnant women and their babies deserve such a pleasurable experience. In the larger sense, women (whether pregnant or not) as well as men owe it to themselves to begin identifying the tensions burrowing into their bodies, both physically and emotionally, and seeking the appropriate treatments. Rarely in life can we reap such far-reaching results in such short periods of time as we can with specialized spa treatments. The chronic back-strain or feeling of exhaustion from which we suffer may or may not disappear after an hour or two of treatments, but either way, we set ourselves on the road to recovery.

Donoho, Ron. “Spa Mania.” San Diego Nov. 2000: 73-77, 185.