From simple to simply sumptuous, summer escapes abound

Sun-splashed beaches and starry nights aside, there are plenty of resorts at which to wile away these luscious California days and nights. New on the horizon is the addition of stunning spas and requisite body-concentrated treatments designed to diminish stress. The swaying palm trees and soft breezes come with no extra charge. This diverse short list offers comfort and cachet. From the ocean to the desert, this tantalizing trio has an assorted menu of revitalizing choices to ponder.

The Miramonte Resort and Spa, Indian Wells

New this year at the 11-acre, 215-room desert resort is a Tuscan-inspired 12,000 square-foot village style spa named “The Well.” The centerpieces of this flower-filled retreat are the 10 outdoor and nine indoor relaxation suites. For the ultimate in mud treatments, envision four “mud bars” featuring the Pittura Festa (painting party), where spagoers are given brushes to be anointed with variously colored mud. The goal is to paint yourself (body, face and hair) or your partner. It’s an extremely muddy makeover for those who have art at heart. The Watsu bagno vino (Italian for wine baths) provide yet another way to take the waters. Jennifer DiFrancesco, the Well’s spa director, had a hand in creating the spa menu, which is one of the most avant-garde in the desert. Now through Sept. 30, there is an introductory “It’s All About You” spa package. This includes accommodations for two nights, one 60-minute “Map of the Body” massage and one 60-minute Watersource facial. Rates start at $295 per couple, Thursday through Sunday, based on availability, with tax and gratuity additional. The Miramonte’s culinary staff, headed by Darren McCabe, the former executive chef at the Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage, is on to something delicious. McCabe’s menu is showcased at the Ristorante Brissago, a great choice for summer salads and Tuscan-inspired specialties with fruits and herbs coming from the resort’s gardens.

The St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa, Dana Point

Hold on to your comfy bathrobe, because the 400-room St. Regis has that and nearly everything else in its luxurious guestrooms available for sale in a convenient catalogue discreetly deposited in each room. It’s like in-room QVC for those who appreciate the finest, no holds barred. From the Filideo Italian linens to Lissedell Irish terry towels, guestrooms here are a designer’s dream. The accessories and beds are as irresistible as is the mesmerizing views from this palatial resort.

While some guests make straight for the golf course (the on-site 18-hole Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-designed golf course boasts ocean views and an exclusive clubhouse), others gravitate to Spa Gaucin, a lavish 30,000 square foot retreat with a choice of creative spa packages catering to couples, friends and even expectant mothers. One such choice is the “Wine Women and Spa” package, which Anne Emrich, Spa Gaucin’s director, describes as a “celebration of relaxation and pleasure.” The cost of $320 per person covers a choice of treatments-the 50-minute Orange Frappe wrap or the 50-minute True Calm facial among them-and a selection of fine wine, cheeses and appetizers served in the spa’s atrium. Add an herbal sauna and whirlpool with a nap in the tranquility lounge, and you have a perfect day.

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La Costa Resort and Spa, Carlsbad

Opened in 1965 at a time when spas were as unknown as computers, this resort mainstay debuted a lavish spa complex with 42 treatment rooms including two VIP suites for couples in 2003. It seemed like this mega property was in hibernation for a dozen years until KSL Resorts took it over and turned it around, thanks to a $140 million renovation. Now 474 spacious guestrooms and suites cater to guests who can take in the Roman waterfall and lavish pool with magnificent gardens that separate the spa treatment rooms from the spacious entry area. Another component of the Spa at La Costa is the Chopra Center (Deepak Chopra is a health expert, author and philosopher and a champion of new age health and healing), offering traditional medicine with natural (ayurvedic) healing, medical consultations, therapeutic body treatments, workshops and meditation instruction. The Spa itself has an excellent choice of treatments.

Spa Director Jeremy McCarthy describes the personal spa journey, which is to “indulge, invigorate or inspire.” I experienced the Spanish Herbal Body Wrap (80 minutes/$185), an intoxicating journey with a massage, skin polishing, herbal wrap and scalp massage. The therapist, Pam, was a La Costa veteran, having been with the original spa for more than 10 years, so she knew her sage, lavender and rosemary!

Many spagoers visit the Yamaguchi salon for the $70 Hayai Tsume manicures that include a lower arm massage, exfoliation and paraffin dip, and the Shogun pedicure for $80.

Great spas come in small packages

The antitheses of the mega spas opening in every corner of the world are the smaller spas found in out of way places. Desert Hot Springs, Palm Springs’ dusty “spa sister” has around a dozen spa hotels (ranging from six to 15 rooms) built in the 1950s that have often been dramatically renovated. New on the hip list are the Beat Hotel, honoring writers from the 1950s beat generation, the Sagewater Spa and the Swiss Health Resort.

One of the more esoteric natural mineral water spas is the Miracle Manor Retreat, where less says more. Six compact rooms surround the effervescent hot mineral water, where guests soak for at least 20 minutes.

Rates start at $129 (with kitchenettes), valid Sunday through Sundays. The entire resort can be reserved for private parties.

€ Miracle Manor, 12589 Reposo Way, Desert Hot Springs. 877.329.6641; 760.329.6641 or www.miraclemanor.com

€ A new 45-minute documentary entitled “Desert Hot Springs: Home of the Healing Waters” is available though Casablanca Studios, 760.251.9980; www.casablancastudios.com.

€ Desert Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce, 760.329.6403, www.deserthotsprings.org

€ Hip Tip: For the cutting edge news on the spa world, check www.spagoer.com.

Pamela Price is the coauthor of “100 Best Spas of the World”

(www.globepequot.com) published by the Globe Pequot Press. The author will be signing her book on Sept. 12, 1 p.m. at Borders Bookstore in Hollywood.

Resource list:

_ The Miramonte Resort and Spa

4500 Indian Wells Lane, Indian Wells

Reservations: 800.237.2926 www.miramonte-resort.com

__The St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa

One Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point

800.722.1543

www.stregismb.com

__La Costa Resort and Spa

2100 Costa Del Mar Rd., Carlsbad

800.854.5000; www.lacosta.com

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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