Friday, June 18, 2010

REDUX: mySpa ~ Fairmont Chicago

I originally reviewed the Fairmont Chicago's mySpa shortly after it opened in March 2008. Its opening began a trend of new luxury spas in the Chicago-area, which has continued over these past two years, despite some of the economic challenges of what some have dubbed the “Great Recession”. Up to that point, the only luxury spas in the heart of Chicago’s Mag Mile areas were spas at the Four Seasons, Peninsula and Ritz-Carlton. In addition to the one at the Fairmont Chicago, there are now luxury spas at iconic hotels as the Trump, Elysian, Palmer House, Wit, and Dana; there’s even a standalone Kohler luxury spa in one of Chicago’s pricey suburbs, Burr Ridge.

Although the beautiful mySpa is located in the hotel’s lower area, where there aren’t any windows, the high vaulted ceilings add to an open-air feel accentuated by ceiling insets of sky blue murals, complete with cumulus clouds; even the exquisite hand blown Murano glass lighting fixtures are reminiscent of an azure blue sky; the subtle palette of colors also lends to the airy feel of nature. Throughout the area, the design is contemporary, Asian minimalist and retro inspired; the overall effect is calming and de-stressing.

The spa is 11,000 s.f. and has eight treatment rooms, including a duet suite with soaking tub and private bathroom. The hotel also offers guests in-room treatments. There’s also a Fitness Center with cardio, circuit training and weight equipment by Technogym and Precor and if needed, personal trainers are available. Guests also have access to a regular schedule of fitness classes that are offered in the Yoga Studio. There’s a well-stocked retail area of treatment products and other spa goodies for the trip home. Other guest amenities include separate steam rooms and relaxation lounges to enhance the guest experience. The spa offers a variety of massage, skin care, body care and nail therapies. Unique to mySpa are myBody Rituals, which are multi-layered sensory treatment experiences, based on indigenous healing therapies; these include Vitality, Hammam, and Nirvana. Treatment lines include Intraceuticals, beingTrue, Somme Institute, Red Flower, Essence of Vali, Body Bliss and SpaRitual.

My treatment experience was the advanced Intraceuticals Rejuvenate and Atoxelene Infusion Oxygen Facial. My experience would mark the launch of the Intraceuticals facial to the mySpa array of targeted therapeutic facial treatments.

I’ve always been tentative about getting any type of facial that uses products with the ingredient phrase “..ceuticals..”; in the past, my skin rejected these types of products because I found them consistently too strong, with too many chemical additives, and having an off-putting chemical-aroma. I’ve also been skeptical of any product lines and treatments that promise things like “instant results”, “noticeably plumper”, “lifted”, “anti-aging”, “reduction of fine lines”, blah, blah, blah. Caveat emptor, and so go on and show me; I dare you!

One thing about me is that when I’m wrong, I fess up to it. And, I was totally wrong about all of my pre-conceived ideas of the Intraceuticals line and the promises of the treatment and its immediate and noticeable results. I just love still being able to learn a few things or two at my age, but, I digress…..

My treatment began with the application of warmed towels to the face that had been infused with mySpa’s custom blend of aromatic essential oils (ylang ylang, lavender, petitgrain and sweet orange blossom). These aromas were delightful to inhale, but were also therapeutic, inducing total relaxation. Next, a scrupulous review of my skin by my esthetician (Rich) followed. He fully explained all of the various steps involved in this technological wonder, including that the treatment is non-invasive and doesn’t require any “downtime”; because of its gentle yet effective delivery system, clients won’t experience the usual sensitivity to light and won’t experience any redness or irritation. (Finally, a technologically advanced skin care line and delivery system that is ideal for folks like me with finicky and sometimes over-reactive aging skin; I digress, again…..)

The skin was scrupulously cleansed with Intraceuticals oil-free Cleansing Gel, which contains buffered salicylic acid; this was a very gentle and non-irritating product. The Clarisonic Classic, one of my favorite skincare aids, was also used in this treatment phase. Next, were the dual phase application of individual serums, Atoxelene and Rejuvenate; each was applied to the face and then followed by pressurized oxygen.

The first serum, Atoxelene, contains the powerful peptide Argireline, which relaxes and smoothes fine lines and wrinkles, a safer and non-invasive alternative to painful injectables. The second serum, Rejuvenate, contains hyaluronic acid, which aids in smoothing and hydrating. The oxygen is the delivery system that advances the serums into deeper layers of the skin. The serums aided in the hydration, firming, lifting and plumping of cells. Fine lines and wrinkles were diminished, while texture was smoothed, lifted and plumped.

Once my skin was scrupulously cleansed and the therapeutic serums applied, aided by the potent oxygen delivery, the Contour Eye Gel, Hydration Gel, and Moisture Binding Cream products were applied. I also received an application of on-demand Atoxelene via the Atoxelene Wand, which is a portable wonder and can be applied to target fine lines and wrinkles anywhere and any time. All products were gentle, non-irritating, and lightweight; between the oxygen infused serums and these products, my face also felt lighter. I couldn’t believe how much healthier my skin appeared and how much more improved it appeared pre-treatment. My skin was lifted and plumper, while its texture more refined; and, the few fine lines and wrinkles I had were softened to the point that they were barely visible. It was amazing. These extraordinary results lasted a good three days, with results appearing to be cumulative and improving with each passing day.

Intraceuticals recommends a series of six consecutive weekly oxygen serum infusions, which will optimize benefits and also create a cumulative benefit; thereafter, they recommended a maintenance regimen of every six to eight weeks. For the convenience of clients, Intraceuticals provides kits of take-home products that also include the individual serums; mySpa personalizes the two serums for each client and then maintains them in a temperature controlled environment, so the individual is assured of getting their own identified serums each time they return for an oxygen serum infusion. Ideally, the products will be their most potent worked in tandem, but for those who don’t want to make a major investment, any of the products will complement others currently used in one’s regular skincare regimen.

Visiting mySpa for this special launch reminded me of their commitment to the guest experience by providing the most effective and advanced treatment protocols available. During my visit I also had a chance to chat a bit with industry veteran and mySpa Director Karen Hott, who exemplies mySpa’s mission, “…to encourage our guests to rediscover themselves. Our attention to detail, extraordinary care and service, and results-oriented experiences are designed to provide each Chicago spa guest with a sense of awakening, balance, and rest…” Also at this special launch was Gina Brooke, Makeup Artist and Intraceuticals Brand Ambassador; I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation about her passion and philosophies on products and trends. I also enjoyed perusing her impressive portfolio, which included numerous cover feature clippings of some of the best known who’s-who in star-dom. (For additional expert review coverage on mySpa, refer to my September 7, 2009 archived article post, “Spa Treatments and Product Experiences-Part II”.)

For more information on mySpa, go to; for Intraceuticals, go to; for Clarisonic, go to

By Terry Herman

Terry Herman is a recognized expert in the spa industry, and regularly covers issues that include business, management, operations, customer care, treatments, products, and trends. In addition to writing and reviewing, she is also a management consultant and motivational speaker. You can email her at


(Photo: mySpa Women's Area; courtesy of Fairmont Chicago and mySpa)

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