• Pamela Froman

An Ojai Get Away

Just off the beaten path in Ojai, there is a beautiful retreat that embraces love, romance, and eastern philosophy. Known as the Secret Garden, it should definitely not be kept a secret.

Perfect for small intimate weddings (30 people or less) or a romantic getaway, The Secret Garden provides a tranquil, rejuvenating experience for its patrons. Owners Marcus and Eva Kettles say, "The atmosphere we hope to present is one that pampers your mind, body, and spirit." Though not exclusively for weddings, wedding couples can pay a location fee and marry on the property. Marcus is a minister and Eva is a professional photographer. There is also a package with the Secret Garden Suite being the Honeymoon Suite for before and after the wedding.

But weddings aren't the only way to relax at the suite. In fact, a short stay with a lovely massage from Eva (who is also a licensed massage therapist) can be just what the doctor ordered.

The suite is warm and inviting. Enter in and the first thing that will meet your eyes is the unique "floating" bed. Held up by wires attached to the ceiling, this king size circular bed is a showpiece in and of itself. However, there is more to the suite. A Jacuzzi is steps away, which offers complete privacy. There is a mini kitchen and a table and chairs in an outside enclave for a relaxing meal. There is a TV, complete with a DVD player and a selection of DVDs. A bottle of wine and a jar of jellybeans are provided to complete the scene. You can even enjoy the swim-spa-lap-pool, which is positioned for the best view of breathtaking sunsets.

Everywhere you turn is beauty and relaxation. From the trees surrounding the resort to the fragrance of nearby flowers, the atmosphere is sensual yet peaceful. The sounds of water circle as the water cascades in the Green Tara fountain. Or enjoy the breathtaking views of the Topa Topa Mountains and the village of Ojai below. The
luxury and elegance of the suite emanates, but relaxation and fun also abounds.

Eastern Philosophy thrives. It is rumored that Krishnamurti and his brother spent much time in meditation at the property before he established his own retreat, which is just a short walk away.

The Secret Garden also offers a memento to cherish with original onsite photography. Eva dresses her clients in whatever strengthens their feeling about themselves. She meditates on the person until she receives an image. Eva then tries to get, as close to her mental image as possible with costumes, scarves, accessories and make up and hair.

Patrons love their experiences. The photos make them feel exhilarated and powerful or simply excited to have such a fun day where it is all about receiving attention and love. What is greater than going home with pictures about their experience? "That's what I intend with the pictures," says Eva. "That the client really feels the joy of being photographed and taken care of and that this memory will last in their consciousness whenever they look at the pictures of that day."

Guests generally stay between two to four days on the resort. Cost is typically from $195-$245 on weekdays and $270-$395 on weekends.

For information on Eva's photography log onto:

For information on the resort go to or call (805) 746 4658

You can also find information on the retreat at:

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