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Locals Find Their Happy Place

By Clayton Moore | Photos by CVAC

At the best of times, it’s hard to get away from it all. Vacations are expensive and hard to plan, while these days staycations feel more like a way of life than a retreat, replete with the temptations that compromise a healthy lifestyle. Fortunately for residents of the Central Valley, the Carmel Valley Athletic Club (CVAC) offers an idyllic combination of physical challenges to strengthen a healthy routine, world-class customer service, a stunning locale, and a place to get back in touch with yourself and your family.

Nestled in the sunny side of Carmel, surrounded by breathtaking views of the Santa Lucia Mountains, CVAC offers something for everyone, from a state-of-the-art two-story fitness club to world-class tennis courts to elegant experiences such as a massage, a salon refresh, or a complete spa day to leave you relaxed, refreshed, and feeling not only peaceful but also reinvigorated to face the day.

“I think that people deserve this kind of safe haven,” says General Manager James Kellogg. “Our guests are really grateful to have this space—and people deserve to take care of themselves. People tell me that this is kind of their happy place.”

CVAC and its adjacent, world-renowned and award-winning spa, Refuge, provide more than just exercise, recreation, and relaxation. Every visit affords a comfortable retreat that members crave, whether they’re here to exercise, participate in the club’s 100+ fitness classes, or take a few laps in the club’s heated 25-yard lap pool.

Classes provide a wealth of new experiences, including those taught by Olympian Les Mills, such as Body Combat, and other multidisciplinary offerings that incorporate karate, tai chi, and taekwondo as well as more familiar favorites such as yoga, Pilates, Zumba®, and aquatic workouts. There are also new sports such as pickleball, which combines ping-pong and tennis for an easy-to-learn playtime.

Unlike franchise gyms or the lavish but often disorderly experience resorts provide, CVAC is also a community hub. Members can not only take part in activities but also work on-site, thanks to high-speed Internet, so they can choose how to spend their day in a warm, inviting location. Kellogg jests, not without justification, that some members practically live here. For another respite, members and their guests may enjoy a sumptuous meal, thanks to the cuisine conceived by the club’s charismatic, inventive chef, Moises Muñoz. From balsamic eggplant to complex risottos paired with some of Carmel Valley’s finest local wines, to lighter fare such as salads, tacos, and sandwiches, the club’s café is a destination all on its own.

“People come to us to feel better,” says Kellogg, who managed Clint Eastwood’s Tehama Golf Club for over a decade. “We’re really grateful to have this place. You have to have something that enriches you and grounds you, and fills you back up and makes you feel good about life. This is a place to get back in touch, whether it’s nature or your health or [to] simply to take a breath for a little while. We all deserve to take care of ourselves, which makes us better people.”

For more information about the Carmel Valley Athletic Club and its adjacent outdoor relaxation spa Refuge, visit and


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