Monday, December 22, 2014


I recently experienced an ESPA Personalised Facial at the new Le Meridien Chicago-Oakbrook Spa Suites (Starwood Hotels & Resorts).  I’ve been reviewing all-things spa since the mid-1990s, and have become accustomed to a spa being a part of a structured space…check-in area, locker room, waiting room, etc.; that thinking changed with this experience.

The Spa Suites at Le Meridien Chicago-Oakbrook offer the guest a different approach to a traditional structured spa setting without diminishing the traditional benefits, given the following.  Your check-in point is at the hotel’s registration area.  Your therapist is contacted, and upon arrival, you’re warmly greeted and escorted to the floor location of the Spa Suites

You’re first given a tour of the Spa Suites space; here is where the treatment is administered and which also becomes your private refuge post-treatment.  The treatment is fifty minutes; post-treatment I had an additional forty minutes of private, undisturbed downtime to either take a shower under the pulsating rainwater showerhead, or a languid soak in an enormous tub, or a cat-nap on the heated marble lounger, or quietly rest on a sofa while listening to relaxing music, or watch television as you thumb-through magazines or newspapers, or eat fresh fruit, drink coffee, tea or water, etc.….the possibilities were endless.  You have everything you need right there in the Spa Suite, including a spacious vanity and wardrobe area, robe and slippers, lotions, shampoo and conditioner, Loofah, and every other spa accoutrement you can imagine that will make your spa experience memorable.  Everything you could possible imagine you’d need is all there, and you don’t have to be concerned about traipsing around in front of strangers…you’re cozied up in the privacy of an acoustically sound Suite that keeps out the din of noise from the hallway and the bustling street below.  After you change out of your street clothes and get on your treatment table and cocoon yourself under warming blankets, your therapist returns and begins to work their magic on you.

For my ESPA Personalised Facial treatment would be administered by industry veteran and licensed Esthetician Tipsukhon Calfa (Pam); her credentials were impressive; not only has she been a licensed Esthetician for twelve years (IL), she is also licensed as a Massage Therapist and Nail Technician, and certified in Thai Yoga.  With such impressive credentials, I knew I was in expert hands.  There is no substitute for training and experience, and whenever I’ve experienced a spa treatment from a seasoned veteran like Tipsukhon, I’ve never had to explain or point out what my “issues” were, since as a qualified professional, she was able to determine them based on her level of expertise and training.

(Photo by T. Calfa)
After diagnosing my overall condition, my esthetician begins isolating the specific ESPA Skincare products she’ll use throughout the fifty-minute treatment.  Following are the components and products used by my esthetician during the treatment: Cleansing Balm (1st and 3rd cleanse); Cleansing Milk with Skin Polish (2nd cleanse); Floral Spa Fresh; Pro Serum (facial massage); Clam & Soothing Mask; Restorative Body Oil (shoulders and neck massage); and, Calm & Soothing Moisturiser.  I was also given a deep scalp, neck and shoulder massage during the Mask portion of the treatment.  After the treatment, I was left alone in the Suite to savor an additional forty minutes of downtime to do whatever I wanted…I had everything at my disposal to use, or not use, so I opted to dabble in experiencing a little of each!

~ About ESPA Skincare ~

ESPA is a global leader in the industry and found in prestigious spas across five continents.  All products are formulated to produce results-driven, natural skincare that is enjoyable to use, while encouraging the skin to look its best at every stage of life.  ESPA’s award winning products are as unique as they are effective, they are tested each and every day by a highly trained and extremely professional global network of therapists, and are loved by men and women alike.  I’ll also be conducting a three to four week test review of the ESPA Mask, Serum and Moisturiser products that were used in this treatment; the test will enable me to gauge product efficacy in an at-home spa setting.  So, stay tuned!

~ In Closing ~

When I arrived for my treatment, it was bitterly cold and my skin felt raw and very dry.  This treatment yielded many favorable, albeit transitory, results.  As with any professionally administered facial treatment, the key to maintaining and/or improving aspects of skincare on a consistent basis requires an at-home skincare regimen that utilizes products appropriate for the individual’s specific skin type, as well as regularly scheduled facials performed by a licensed esthetician. 

My Spa Suites experience was favorable and something for you to definitely consider doing when in the area; by the way, Le Meridien Chicago-Oakbrook is across the street from upscale shopping area, Oakbrook Center.  Consider shopping first, then relax afterwards at the Spa Suites and experience one of their outstanding treatments!

That’s it for this edition.  Until the next one, remember to take care of yourself and those you love.
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 the 1990s, she authored an extensive "Glossary of Spa Terminologies" and holds two copyright registrations.  Consumer and trade publications have also interviewed her as an expert.  She also conducted an extensive nationally broadcasted interview tour on aspects of creating an at-home spa, interior design, music, stress and time management.  Her work has been published extensively in print and digital in both consumer and trade publications.  In addition to writing, reviewing and being interviewed as an expert, she is also a management consultant and motivational speaker.  She also served on the International Advisory Board for the former EXPERIENCE | PREMCHIT Journeys In Retreat To Wellness; the Advisory Board was comprised of ten international experts in various fields of wellness and spa.  She also served as a Group Manager for the popular LinkedIn group, The Spa Buzz.  Her social media outreach includes Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Tripatini.  Be sure to read her food, wine and culinary digital magazine, TERRY’S SECOND HELPINGS.  You can email her at, or


(Photo credits as represented by the specific brand.)

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