By Carla Minsky
Instead of calling it a girlfriends’ spa getaway, perhaps you should start calling it a girlfriends “wellness” getaway. An international study released in fall 2013 showed that wellness tourism, defined as the pursuit of enhancing one’s personal wellbeing, is growing at twice the rate of global tourism. If you’re looking to improve your wellness, then consider a visit to one of these Wisconsin spas. Each has its own take on spa services that are not only relaxing and enjoyable but also good for you.
Ancient Healing Principles
Sundara Inn & Spa - Wisconsin Dells
When this destination spa opened its doors in 2003, it did so with a singular mission – wellness. GM Rick Duarte, an attendee at the Global Wellness Tourism Congress in India where the above research was unveiled, said Sundara defines wellness in terms of a healing touch, a kind word, a place to reconnect with the most important people in your life, a respect for the earth, and a sanctuary from stress. No surprise that ancient Ayurvedic principles of India inform the spa menu here. Try the Champissage, a treatment that targets the back, neck, shoulders, face and head, places where everyone tends to carry stress. You may also want to pick up a copy of their first-ever cookbook, called “Wellness Cuisine for All Seasons” which champions a farm-to-table philosophy.
De-Stress for Wellness
Aspira Spa at The Osthoff Resort - Elkhart Lake
“Center your spa escape around de-stressing as that will enhance your wellness,” offers GM Lola Roeh, adding that “spa is wellness.” Roeh recommends starting with a relaxing soak in a chromatub with lights that cycle through the colors of the rainbow to bring a sense of tranquility. Follow that with the signature Cedars Massage, which incorporates aromatherapy using fresh native cedar harvested from ancient trees along the shoreline of Elkhart Lake where the spa is located. The cedar was used by Native Americans who once inhabited those shores to purify and protect “That’s a wonderful wellness regime, just those two things, a bath treatment and massage,” said Roeh. Be sure to allow ample time to further calm the mind in the spa’s Meditation Sanctuary where water flows over a wall of sculpted stone into a hand-tooled copper vessel.
Beyond the Mainstream
Kohler Waters Spa at The American Club - Kohler
In 2013 the five-star Kohler Waters Spa added acupuncture to its treatment menu as a way to take wellness to the next level. “The Chinese have a great deal to teach us about the ancient studies of the body,” explained spa manager Joan Rogers. “Guests are embracing acupuncture for its relaxing, pain-reducing, holistic balancing qualities.” Another good-for-you service that Rogers recommends is the Advanced Skin Restoration Facial which makes use of skin-nourishing proteins to combat signs of aging and, of course, any of the hydrotherapy treatments Kohler is known for. “Wellness is water and we create new water treatments every year,” said Rogers. Extend the spa stay by taking advantage of the on-premise fitness center or take a wellness class at their Yoga on the Lake studio.
The Wellness Journey
Evensong Spa - Green Lake
When asked which spa treatments are best for wellness, spa director Druellen Kosti was quick to answer. “Any of the massages, which are customized to what a guest needs.” She explained that massages help to increase circulation, detoxify, and lower blood pressure. To make the mind-body wellness connection, begin by walking the indoor labyrinth, a single circular path that has been used for centuries as a tool for personal transformation. A perfect complement is the Labyrinth Heated Stone Massage, with the spa therapist using smooth heated stones combined with soothing massage techniques to relax muscles and increases blood flow to target zones as a way to enhance the healing process. After the massage, rest in the relaxation room which overlooks the oldest golf course in Wisconsin. There’s even a nutritionist on staff to help with healthy lunch options.
Historic Ties to Turkish Baths
WELL Spa + Salon at the Pfister Hotel - Milwaukee
The Pfister Hotel, built in 1893, actually had Turkish baths at one point in its history. While the original lower level Turkish Bathhouse with its thick Italian marble walls and cascading waters is no more, there are remnants visible here and there in the WELL spa and salon that now occupies its space. Elizabeth Walsh, spa director, said the spa’s Hammam treatment is their interpretation of the restorative qualities of that original Turkish bath. “You begin by applying a mineral-rich mud from the Atlas Mountains of Tunisia to the entire body. Then you enter a walk-in shower with spouts, spritzers, funnels and shower heads as well as hot steam to relax you and clear your skin of impurities,” said Walsh. “It is a great prelude to a massage, allowing you to receive the full therapeutic benefits of that treatment from the minute the massage begins.”