For all the time I’ve spent taking up space in spas around the world, I must admit I’ve never quite understood the practice of spending a full day at the spa. Until La Costa, that is. The Spanish mission-style resort just north of San Diego in Carlsbad, California was once the first of its kind: a lifestyle resort, where the concept of well-being was at the heart of the guest experience. Ok people, it was a fat farm. But what really distinguished the village-like ambience at La Costa – aside from the celebrities who trekked down the coast from Hollywood – was the innovative spa. A resort within a resort, the spa was more in keeping with the design of a European spa retreat, complete unto itself. When it opened in the mid-1960’s La Costa Spa was the largest in the world, housed on its own private 22-acre spread which accommodated an unbelievable 150 guests at a time. That heyday has since evaporated and now – following a $50 million dollar renovation – the resort caters more to families than fatties, yet there’s still more than a quantum of solace to be found in the thoroughly new spa. The 28,000 square feet of indoor treatment space is complemented by a 15,000-square-foot outdoor courtyard, where a heated lounge pool, Roman waterfall massage pool and reflexology path round out the offerings. Notoriously distracted and prone to boredom, I managed to while away an entire workday without even blinking. Stumbling in bleary-eyed and just a little bit hung over I first took the water cure – an invigorating circuit of steam, cold plunge, and jacuzzi – before grabbing my book and heading to pool for some sun. And a nap. By the time I woke up it was time for lunch. While waiting for mango quinoa cups with grilled chicken and a glass of organic Sauvignon Blanc in the adjoining Spa Cafe, I decided to investigate the curious stone path winding through the fragrant herb garden. A reflexology expert on property consulted on the choice and placement of coastal stones from the nearby Pacific beach interspersed with other local stones of different shapes and sizes. Walking the path – one of only a few in the US, by the way – provides a deep-working stimulation of pressure points in the feet, encouraging vital energy and blood flow throughout the body. Curiosity satisfied, hunger sated – yes, I had dessert, too – the moment had come for daydreams and digesting in the warmth of the California sun. A scant five hours after my arrival came the purported reason for my visit: the Tea-Tox Trio, a mix of organic rosemary, cypress, lime and geranium oils designed to energize the lymphatic system and encourage metabolism. To get your blood going it starts with a bracing sugar scrub, followed by a clay body wrap to promote circulation. Next you sit in a hydro-massage tub for a green tea soak that stimulates cellular drainage. Invigorated, the treatment ends with an application of lotion that will leave you refreshed and hydrated. Or in my case, wondering where the day went – and ready for dinner.