Monday, May 16, 2011



Kohler, the eponymous luxury brand for all-things-water, is also synonymous with “spa”. There are three luxury Kohler Spas; their flagship one is located in Kohler, WI (The American Club Resort Hotel); also in St. Andrews, Scotland (Old Course Hotel, Gold Resort & Spa); and, the Chicago location, which is actually located in Burr Ridge, IL, one of Chicago’s tonier suburbs.

While I’ve not yet experienced the Spa in Scotland, I’ve experienced the flagship one in Kohler, WI on a number of occasions. This location is less than a four-hour drive from my home. The Chicago-area location is less than twenty miles from downtown Chicago, and less than eight miles from my home. When I need a Kohler “fix”, I head to this location.

First opening in 2008, the gorgeous spa is 10,200 SF and boasts a twenty-five foot figure eight shaped whirlpool, with a drop waterfall. This impressive water feature is the Spa’s focal point. Along with this feature, there’s the unique Circle of Tranquility, which is a series of three distinctive shower experiences (Quench, Envelop and Deluge), all using the latest and most therapeutic Kohler hydro-technology; there’s also steam and sauna available to guests. Within this area is a very comfort-inducing Relaxation Area. Behind the perimeter of the co-ed area are fourteen treatment rooms and individual locker facilities for men and women. The outer areas of the Spa include Reception, Retail, Make-up and Nail. There are fourteen treatment rooms, including Vichy wetrooms. The overall design of these areas might seem noisy, but acoustically, the areas remain quiet (unless, of course, there’s an overly exuberant guest who can’t contain themselves). Spa cuisine is available; guests can chose everything from salads to sandwiches and wraps off of a special menu; guest orders are served in the Relaxation Area. At this time, no fitness classes are offered at this location.

If all of this isn’t sufficient to get one’s “Kohler Waters Spa Fix”, there’s also a beautiful Kohler Design Store contiguous to the Spa. Here is where dreamers and renovators alike can whet their appetites and refine their bath and kitchen wish lists and work with on-premises design experts on that once in a lifetime project, while viewing in-store displays and other sample inventories. Considering all that’s readily available for the guest, about the only thing missing are rooms for an overnight stay; a nearby Marriott Hotel has partnered with the Spa; registered guests can get a 20% discount on their treatments just by showing their hotel key card; this offering runs through December 31st. Also, members of Chicago-area Lifetime Fitness also qualify for a 20% discount on treatments.

I scheduled a Kohler Waters Wrap (seventy-five minutes); this is a seasonal body treatment that’s only offered until May 30th; however, I wouldn’t be surprised if this weren’t added to the regular menu of services, since it’s very popular and adaptive to any seasonal transition, depending on the products used.

The treatment therapy is a wonderful multi-layered ritual, which combines exfoliation, detoxification, extremity manipulation, and facial and scalp massage. While exfoliation, detoxification and jump-starting the lymphatic circulatory system lead to warmth from seasonal chill, the overall effect was balancing, relaxing and restoring.

My therapist was Lead Esthetician Renata. The treatment began with my inhaling a small amount of a special blend of Kerstin Florian professional-grade organic essential oils (Lavender, Eucalyptus and Orange) to calm and balance me. A full-body dry brushing, using the Supracor Bath Mitt, prepared my skin for the next step, which was an application of the organic essential oils blended with Kerstin Florian Organic Sunflower Oil.

After the oil application, a special professional-grade blend of detoxifying Chinese Medicinal Herbs (Bio Elements) were applied to my body in small circular patterns, which caused a subtle massage action, while also diffusing the herbs. The herbs included Kai Chin So (calming, soothing), Shan Zhu Yu (soothing, nourishing), Fu Pen Tzu and Da Za0 (natural alpha-hydroxy acids) and Da Zao. The alpha-hydroxy herbs exfoliated, while the others detoxified. After this thorough application of oil and herbs, I was wrapped in several layers of sheeting and blankets, and rested. After about fifteen minutes or so, I was then escorted to the in-room shower, where I carefully rinsed all of the herbs from my skin. I returned to my treatment table, and my therapist applied more custom blended oils to my skin. After this, I was again wrapped and allowed to rest for another twenty minutes or so. While resting, my therapist began applying a series of Kerstin Florian products. First, my face was cleansed with the Rehydrating Neroli Cleansing Gel; after product removal, my face was spritzed with the Rejuvenating Thermal Tonic toner. Then, my entire face was gently massaged with Organic Anti-Stress Aromatherapy Oil. As my eyes remained closed, cool stones were placed around the orbital areas and also my upper nasal areas; the cool stones stimulated circulation. As I continued resting, my therapist massaged my scalp and then applied the oil blend to my feet, while gently massaging them; she then covered my feet with warm toweling. After my period of rest, all sheeting and blankets were removed and my entire body was spritzed with a final application of Kohler Signature Avocado Spritz. As I exited the treatment room, Renata was waiting with a glass of water for re-hydration, and then escorted me to the lovely Relaxation Area, where I’d continue my state of relaxation. I was in the spa-zone. This was an exceptional treatment that got rid of the winter “blahs” and instilled in me some spring “ahs”. My skin was silky smooth and wonderfully hydrated. The subtle imparted aroma left on my skin was very calming and relaxing.

My only regret with my experience was that I didn’t come prepared with my bathing suit so I could fully experience the Circle of Tranquility shower experiences and the gorgeous waterfall and whirlpool. But, Kohler staff are so accommodating that I was given a return invitation pass to experience these amenities.

Upcoming Spa Events ~ Now through May 26th, a “Mom and Me” specially priced nail event for girls ages 8-13 and their moms. May 26th, the Spa’s cosmeceutical skincare brand, Skin Authority, is offering a one-day “Get Rich Event”; the best of skincare event will be educational and interactive, with demos and how-tos on the latest in skincare; the event will also introduce their newest “Ultra Rich Moisturizer” product, in addition to express facial treatments. To register for these Spa events, call 630-323-7674.

One last thing…..on May 14th, I attended a “Splashtacular” event, held at this location’s Kohler Store, which featured popular HGTV Show Host Monica Pedersen. During the half-day seminar, there were informative presentations and Q&A interaction on all-things Kohler for the bath and at-home spa elements. Product benefits, along with sensory-driven aspects were also emphasized. I was also impressed with the extensive product line’s design and functionality as being eco-centric, including in areas of water conservation and energy efficiency. Some attendees came equipped with sketches and lots of questions for their home projects; one-on-one “speed design bathroom makeovers” were offered by in-store expert designers. Marketing Manager Lynn Schrage gave other presentations. Attendees were treated to an interactive one-on-one with Spa Massage Therapist and Aromatherapist, Ross. Each attendee scoped out their likes and dislikes in aromas and then spent time discussing benefits of aromatherapy with him; he then created a custom-blend of essential oils based on their preferences. The only disappointment with the event was a no-show by Topaz Restaurant; they were scheduled to do a spa cuisine cooking demonstration; Topaz is the Spa’s food provider. Aside from this glitch, overall the event was impressive, and I left with a better sense of the product line and how it reflects the latest in innovative feature design, form and functionality. All attendees left with ample product literature and reference material. Given the presentation, it’s no wonder why many homes, retail establishments, hotels, resorts and spas use the Kohler brand for their needs.

Back on pointKohler Waters Spa Chicago is an exceptional spa. It’s very accessible, the design and layout is extremely beautiful, it offers an expansive menu of services, and features awesome water-focused amenities. It is the latter which exemplifies the Kohler name ~ all-things water, which is also what “spa” is all about.

By Terry Herman

Terry Herman is a recognized expert in the 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. She also serves on EXPERIENCE | PREMCHIT Journeys In Retreat To Wellness Advisory Board, which is comprised of ten international experts in various fields of wellness and spa. She also serves as a Group Manager for the popular LinkedIn group, The Spa Buzz. You can email her at


(Photo credits as represented from the specific brand. Photo of Ms. Pedersen by Helen Burkun.)


  1. Dear Terry,
    What a wonderful review! Thank you for sharing:-) When I was reading it, I felt I was there with you. It seems to be an exceptional spa,and I'm looking forward to visit it one day.
    If YOU come to Toronto, call me in advance and I would be delighted to offer you a one of my Zen massages of choice. My warm Bamboo-Fusion massage is one of the newest trend! I would be very happy to meet you in person.
    Zen regards,
    Julie Brigitte Moore

  2. Hi Julie,
    My apologies for the delay in responding. Thank you kindly for your generous compliment. I love the topic and always try to bring my reader to the place I'm writing about. This is a beautiful spa, as is the one in Kohler, Wisconsin. I rarely get to Toronto, but will sure keep you in mind. Your description of the Bamboo-Fusion massage sounds wonderful. Peace and blessings,
    Terry Herman/Spa Wiz

  3. I'd definitely agree that when anybody mentions acrylic bathtubs or other bathroom needs, one of the first brands you'll hear is Kohler. I'd love to visit one of these spas soon... after saving up some money of course.


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