Carmel & REFUGE – the Hydro Thermal Cycle Experience

A few weekends ago Brad and I took a trip to Carmel by the Sea. What an incredible place! It has officially become one of my favorite places with its beautiful beaches, incredible food that would turn anyone into a glutton, delicious wine, and one of the most dog friendly towns I’ve ever been to.

When I go out of town I have an unstoppable craving for seafood pasta. I could eat it for every meal. Our first meal was at Flaherty Seafood Grill and Oyster Bar where we sat outside with Miloh. Their vongole set us off on the right path that this trip was going to be amazing!

Afterwards, we walked around the town which had an adorable rustic, european feel. We met up with our friends for dinner at an Italian bistro called Casanova where their seafood pasta was absolutely DIVINE!

Since Carmel is one of the more expensive places in California, Brad and I set up camp at Carmel By The River which features tent and RV sites. This saved us a LOT of money. After dinner we headed back to our humble abode excited for the next day of perusing our campsite, which let me say, the view of the valley was beautiful!

The specific reason why we chose to vacation to Carmel was to experience their co-ed relaxation spa called Refuge. Their hydro thermal cycle is absolutely the most rejuvinating experience. The process refreshes and renews your body and mind having you come out of their facility a new person. (Photo credits to: We timed it so we could experience the facility in the day and night, and if you can do so, do it that way. The feel completely changes. The process should take 3 hours, but there’s no limit.

The hydro thermal cycle entails 3 (the 4th optional) steps. The first is heating up in one of their 2 saunas: a eucalyptus oil steam room or standard dry sauna. After 5-10 minutes, you escape into the fresh air and dip into one of their pools for 10-60 seconds for the cool down phase – one pool being the temperature of the Pacific Ocean, and for the bolder folk, an icy river. After you’ve shocked your body, the relaxing phase begins. You can either sit by the outdoor firepits or enter one of the temperate rooms with “zero gravity” reclining chairs listening to the sounds of nature music for at least 10 minutes. The fourth optional phase is taking a dip in their hot tubs: warm or hot, and then restart the process. The most important part of this experience… it’s all done in silence.

I’m not much for saunas, but my favorite was the eucalyptus steam room. After I adjusted to the heavy air, the steam was absolutely invigorating for my lungs! If you have asthma or any repiratory problems, this makes you feel as if you gained new ones. The completely shocking cold plunge felt like an incredibly restart to my system. Doing it silently is a task in itself! Wrapping myself in the robe was such a comforting feeling afterwards! Since it was a little chilly, I preferred the temperate room. In fact, I passed out every time I went in!

Nevertheless, this sanctuary was built on the sole purpose of relaxtion. Silence is the number one key to this experience. You can bring books, magazines, and reading devices, but no cell phones or communication devices allowed. This was a getaway and that’s exactly what we got.

Our last day we still had the taste of Casanova on our lips, so we set out to eat lunch there again. We cruised the coast line and saw the most incredible looking houses; some reminded me of Lord of the Rings. The architecture of these houses is something everyone would be amazed at! On our way out we set out on the infamous 17 Mile Drive through the exclusive Pebble Beach neighborhood.

Overall, Carmel has become one of my favorite places in California, possibly even in the United States, and I can’t wait to go back! Please, if you’re looking for a getaway from all the electronic madness in the world go to Refuge! I’m looking forward to experiencing it again!


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