A BLUE IGUANA WEEKEND
Night and Day itís an Ojai Delight
By Bonnie Carroll
The Blue Iguana is the sister property of the Emerald Iguana in Ojai, California. Both properties are the inspired creation of architect Marc Whitman and his interior designer wife Julia, who spent years renovating and making additions to the Ojai properties to bring then to the beautiful and lush state that guests enjoy today. The key word here is relaxed. The management strives to maintain a peaceful environment, and there are no phones in the rooms, however, the office has a phone and a computer for guest use, and all rooms have free Wi-Fi.
Blue Iguana, located off highway 33 on the main road into Ojai, is a property that welcomes families, and offers roomy apartments that are a home-away-from-home, complete with every amenity. Kitchens contain anything you would need to prepare and serve meals, and the living spaces have televisions and CD players and are large and comfortable. According to Jaide, the manager and daughter of the Whitmanís, the Asian and European furniture and art were collected from around the world by her mother Julie Whitman. Many of the paintings on property were done by Marcís mother Nancy Whitman.
Each morning a full breakfast is served to guests in a building overlooking the garden, where a bevy of fresh fruit, fresh eggs, cereals, home-made muffins, toast, bagels, choice of cheese, fresh fruit, juice, coffee and more are served, all in a very relaxed atmosphere. A charming park-like area with tables and benches provides a lovely spot for family breakfast or afternoon picnics.
The pool and Jacuzzi are surrounded by lush plants and palms that create an oasis like environment, where creative tile-art designs can also be seen, including a Jacuzzi with a beautiful blue iguana that winds around the stone pool. The welcoming Iguana fountains guests see when entering the Blue or Emerald Iguana properties are actually amazing works of art. The pool area is open from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. In the morning you may be the only one in the pool doing your water exercises and meditating under a tree. Spa treatments are also available at the Inn.
The park like green near the pool serves as a wonderful gathering place for families to play games or just sit under a tree and read together. Blue Iguana is located a short ride by shuttle from the town of Ojai. Car free supporters who wish to enjoy a film at the historic movie house, or shop at Rains of Ojai and the collection of wonderful shops on the main drag, or do a wine tasting at Casa Barranca Winery will want to take advantage of this easy transport. A shuttle schedule can be found in the office, along with maps and event information.
A two minute drive away from the Blue Iguana on El Roblar Drive you will find an amazing restaurant owned by Jeff Lennon called Papa Lennonís. If you or any of your family require wheat, gluten free or vegan foods Papa Lennonís offers some of the most delicious options found anywhere. The Italian menu has pizza with crust that is gluten free, as well as pasta selections. Their salads are outstanding, especially the beet salad, and the angel hair pomodora is exceptional.
For us regular folks they have a bevy of magnificent pasta dishes with a variety of sauces, sandwiches, salads and desserts. A gelato cart is filled with favorite flavors, and they also offer a wine list of local wines, and have beer on tap, as well as bottles of a gluten free beer called Redbridge that is made from sorghum. Their fresh peach sangria cooler is perfect for warm days, and their dessert list includes tempting Italian favorites. The inside venue is rustic with colorful art on the walls, and their outside garden is a charming spot for large family gatherings for lunch or in the evening can be very romantic.
If you're in Ojai on Sunday donít miss the Ojai Farmerís Market on Matilija Street, considered one of the best by organic food afficianodo's. Across the street is the historic Rainbow Bridge Natural Food Store, where you will find the best selection of fine health foods, as well as the largest selection of organic wines. They serve great hot breakfast and lunch specials, as well as a bevy of salads and sandwiches; everything pure a health conscious tourist could need and then some!
For couples wishing to get lost in a luscious hide-a-way for a week or weekend the Iguana Inn staff are ready to serve you. The Emerald Iguana property is for adults only, and offers the same relaxation, beauty, tasteful amenities and is walking distance to Ojaiís local art galleries and restaurants. Some suites have wood burning fireplaces, whirl pools and private patios and balconies. Guests celebrating special occasions are gifted with a bottle of local wine and a box of Cali Bressan chocolates. My recommendation for an elegant and romantic dinner while staying at the Emerald Iguana would be the Maravilla Restaurant overlooking the golf course at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa, just minutes away by car.
IGUANA INNS OF OJAI
Two Boutique Inns
1808 Pauline Street (Emerald)
11794 N. Ventura Ave (Blue)
Rainbow Bridge Natural Health Store http://www:rainbowbridgeojai.com
Papa Lennonís http://www.papalennons.com
Casa Barranca Winery http://www.barrancawinery.com
Maravilla Restaurant http://www.ojairesort.com
Note: Special thanks to Veronica Cole, Ojai Visitors Bureau. http://www.ojaivisitors.com