…Complete with Small Inns, Food and Wine, Outdoor Fun, Artists and Orange Groves
Ojai, CA – In fast-paced Southern California, always racing into the future, Ojai remains suspended in a simpler time. Set apart from the world, like the mythical paradise of Shangri-La, the Ojai Valley offers a perfect escape – a place to relax, wind back the clock, and rediscover nature, art, and yourself.
Embraced by mountains and filled with citrus groves, the Ojai Valley evokes an antique orange-crate label. The perfume of orange blossoms in springtime adds to the nostalgic feeling. Ojai’s village center is a graceful Spanish-style arcade lined with restaurants, galleries, and one-of-a-kind shops. (Ojai has no chain stores or fast-food outlets within city limits.)
At ease beneath a sunny sky, Ojai does seem a little like the lost paradise of Shangri-La. In fact, it doubled for that timeless place in Frank Capra’s classic 1937 film, Lost Horizon. Even the name Ojai (pronounced “OH-hi”) sounds friendly and welcoming – just one more reason for the town’s timeless appeal.
Always Room at the Inn
Inns scattered around town bring visitors right into village life. Ojai’s first schoolhouse, built in 1874, has been beautifully transformed into the Lavender Inn, a bed-and-gourmet-breakfast spot with the amenities of a boutique hotel, from spa treatments to cooking classes by the Ojai Culinary School. The Mission Revival-style Su Nido offers suites with fireplaces, patios, tile bathrooms with inlaid mosaics, kitchens, and feather beds topped with fine linens – all in harmony with the inn’s name, which in Spanish means “your nest.” Designed and furnished by life-long Ojai residents, Julia & Marc Whitman, the peaceful oasis of the Emerald Iguana Inn creates an enchanting overnight experience with its lush gardens, myriad of architectural and artistic details and variety of accommodations ranging from single rooms and suites to private cottages with spacious living rooms and full kitchens. All three inns are just steps away from restaurants, the movie theater (one screen, real butter on the popcorn), galleries, and other village attractions.
Ojai is located along scenic Highway 33, just 20 minutes from Highway 101 in Ventura, 90 minutes north of Los Angeles, and forty minutes south of Santa Barbara. For visitor information, contact the Ojai Visitors Bureau at 1-888-OJAI- NOW or visit the website at www.ojaivisitors.com.
A POPULAR DESTINATION FOR THE GROWING TREND OF RELIGIOUS TOURISM
International Passenger Survey statistics indicate that 4% of visitors to Britain polled indicate the primary reason for their trip is visiting religious sites or religious places of interest.
“Religious tourism” is a growing trend with the World Religious Travel Association reporting that the faith tourism industry amounts to $18 billion with 300 million travelers annually.
And Wales is uniquely positioned as an attractive religious tourism destination combining Christian significance with both St. David and St. Patrick reputedly born in Wales, and an intriguing Celtic heritage encompassing Neolithic sites throughout the country. There are even dedicated spiritual and religious tours offered by local tour companies.
So important was Wales’ patron saint — St. David — to the spread of Christianity, that in 1220, Pope Calistus II declared that two pilgrimages to St. David’s equaled one to Rome. Following in the footsteps of St. David has been a tradition for centuries, with the English Kings William I and Henry II among the early pilgrims. Modern-day pilgrims are seeking out Wales in greater numbers, and while most forego the hardships of yore, the intention of connecting with the sacred remains primary.
With cathedrals in St. David’s, Llandaff (Cardiff) and St. Asaph (reputedly Britain’s smallest), historic religious sites such as the sacred Bardsey Island off the Llyn Peninsula and St. Illtyd’s church in Llantwit Major with its important collection of ancient Celtic stones, visitors can easily plan their own trip using a newly released fact file of religious tourism available from www.travelwales.org/religious.
For visitors wanting a more structured tour, two companies that have responded to the growing interest in spiritual travel to Wales are Cambrian Routes and Pilgrim Travel.
Cambrian Routes, a Welsh family-owned business, has created “Of Saints and Stones,” a chauffeur-driven tour that explores Wales/Celtic Christianity centering on Pembrokeshire, the home of St. David’s, founded by St. David in the 6th century as a Celtic monastery. St. David is Britain’s smallest city with a population of 1,800, the spiritual heart of Wales, and one of the great historic shrines to Christendom.
Pilgrim Travel has created an in-depth, scholarly tour tracing the routes of St. David and his better-known fellow Celtic saint, St. Patrick. Pilgrim Travel’s 13-day “In the Footsteps of St. David and St. Patrick” features many of Wales treasured sacred sites including St. Govan’s chapel, the most spectacular and romantically-sited of the hermitages remaining in Wales, Caldey Island, home to a Catholic Cistercian community of the
strict observance Porth Mawr-Whitesand Bay, St. Patrick’s point of departure for his mission to Ireland and the St. David’s Peninsula with a visit to St. Non’s, commemorating David’s mother and the legend of his birth. The last stop in Wales before heading to Dublin is the Isle of Anglesey – Ynys Mon – the pre-Roman intellectual center of Druidic Britain.
In addition, Country Lane Tours, specializing in personalized tours for individual travelers and small groups, offers a “hidden Wales” tour that features religious sites in Wales.