Monday, September 21, 2009


INTRO: With autumn’s chill and the crunch of falling leaves fast approaching, I figured it was the perfect time to offer reviews and recommendations of products in what’s become a tradition for me. I’ve been very busy these past few months putting these products through their rigors, as it were, testing them, waiting for reactions, results, etc. Many of these products may not be available in traditional brick and mortar stores, but are available online, or at select spas. Many of these products would also be ideal for an at-home beauty regimen or spa experience. If not already in your retail area, consider adding some of these lines to further offer your guests options and alternatives to consider for their additional purchases. And, with the holiday gift-giving season fast approaching, what better time than now to consider special gift sets for your discerning guests, or for yourself.

METHOD: Depending on quantity, I tried using products anywhere from one to two weeks in order to gauge efficacies (especially the skincare and those promoting lash growth; the later I used for at least four weeks). Nearly all products reviewed were enjoyable, easy to use, and delivered some form of transitory result. The few products I found a bit unpleasant usually had something to do with the product aroma, which didn’t necessarily nullify efficacy. Some of the products reviewed also included food related, where most items would be ideal in a spa cuisine setting, or as part of a healthy eating approach at home. Taste, after all is part of the sensory experience. A sensory-driven experience, which is what spas are supposed to based on, should engage most, if not all of the senses: touch, taste, smell, hearing, sight and even aspects of equilibrium and intuition; the latter two being related to body, mind, spirit connection. Following are my takes on a comprehensive array of products.


Darphin: Stimulskin Plus Rejuvenating Lifting Serum, Stimulskin Plus Divine Lifting Cream, and 8-Flower Nectar ~ I loved all of these results-driven anti-aging products. My skin’s texture (face and neck), hydration level and elasticity were noticeably improved after using these products for only a few days; fine lines were also diminished. Other enjoyable aspects of using these products included the luxurious feel of each product, and the extraordinarily beautiful botanical aromas. I used the Lifting Serum and Lifting Cream in the morning; for the evening, I used the Nectar as a base, followed by the other two products. My aging skin was definitely revitalized. Some of the ingredients in the Serum include polypeptides, collagen, rosemary, and avocado oil; in the Cream, extracts of green tea, chamomile, mulberry, and grape, vitamin C and E; in the Nectar, there are eight pure essential oils, including Everlasting, Iris, Jasmine, Lavender, Neroli, Patchouli, Rose and Ylang Ylang, with the latter one the most predominant. BTW, Darphin recently announced its decision to no longer sell its products in upscale retail stores like Neiman Marcus and will only be available at select spas, or online. No spas in my area currently offer Darphin’s extravagant “Divine 8-Flower Lifting Facial”; I would’ve loved experiencing this treatment as part of reviewing these three products. For more information, go to

Pevonia Myoxy Caviar: Timeless Balm Cleanser, Repair Lotion, Repair Serum, and Repair Cream ~ All of these products are high performing, results-driven and geared to minimize the effects of aging; they were gentle, quickly absorbing, non-tacky and had a silky texture; hydration levels remained throughout the day, while diminishing wrinkles; anti-aging ingredients include caviar extract, pearl, marine collagen, hibiscus esculentus, and polypeptides; product aromas were lovely. I enjoyed all of these products and noticed that my skin’s texture was more refined, and looked healthier; hydration levels remained throughout the day. For more information, go to

Decleor Hydra Floral: Flower Nectar Moisturizing Cream, Flower Dew Moisturizing Eye Gel Cream, and Flower Essence Moisturizing Mask ~ This perennial favorite targets normal to dry skin types (and even aging skin, like mine) and has been reformulated and made even better than before. The formulation includes ingredients like mint and orange blossom aromatic water, codium (sea algae) and wild pansy. The codium and wild pansy are natural “aquaporins” that circulate and deliver water to the skin on a continual basis, aiding in moisture retention. The results were visible; my skin always felt hydrated; product texture was silky with lovely subtle floral aromas. For more information, go to

Arbonne: NutriMinC: Hydrating Face Wash, Balancing Toner, Day & Night Facial Serum, Daily Cream, Night Cream, Facial Scrub and Deep Pore Cleansing Mask ~ Although not a large quantity of product to review, overall these anti-aging products were gentle, non-irritating and maintained their hydration levels. The products I didn’t like, because of a pronounced chemical aroma, were the Balancing Toner and Day & Night Serum; the other products all had a faint orange aroma. For more information, go to, or

reLastin: Skin Revitalizer and Ultra Emollient ~ Behind the science of reLastin is a proprietary (patent-pending) formulation, “Zinc Firming Complex”, which is said to increase the cellular production of elastin, which is naturally lost as part of the aging process; the product also promises to minimize fine lines and wrinkles, while improving levels of hydration and moisture retention. Originally, I was using the Skin Revitalizer in the morning because it had a lighter consistency, and the Ultra Emollient for my nighttime regimen, due a denser consistency. Initially, both products were applied to the face, neck and décolleté. I noticed the Skin Revitalizer had a tendency to dry my skin (it also had a sour and chemical aroma), while the Ultra Emollient didn’t. Once I switched using the Ultra Emollient for day and night, the hydration level improved. I didn’t notice much improvement in fine line minimization on my face (especially my forehead); however, skin texture and line minimization to the neck area and décolleté have occurred. For more information, go to

Lamas Beauty: Organic Citrus-C Facial Cleanser (All Skin Types) ~ Dense consistency and minimal lather, even after wetting the skin. Non-pump bottle made it hard to dispense, due to product density. Product rinsed off thoroughly without leaving any residue; non-irritating and didn’t leave skin feeling dry or taut. If you like the aroma of oranges in things besides the real fruit, you’ll enjoy this product. For more information, go to

Avalon Organics Facial Cleansing Gel: Lavender (Sensitive Skin) ~ Pump bottle made it easy to dispense. High lathering action; rinsed off thoroughly without leaving any residue; didn’t irritate or leave skin feeling dry or taut. I loved the wonderful aroma of lavender in this product. For more information, go to


Talika: Eyebrow Lipocils, Eyelash Lipocils, Eyelash Conditioning Cream, Lash Extender and Lash Conditioning Cleanser ~ I enjoyed using these products. Products were gentle and non-irritating; over time, the lashes and eyebrows became conditioned, with no breakage; the cleanser was thorough and gently removed eyeshadow and mascara effortlessly. The only product I was a bit skittish using was the Lash Extender; this is applied immediately after an application of mascara and then followed with another coating of mascara; I can be a bit pokey and having to finesse holding a magnifying mirror with one hand and the applicators with the other, let’s just say I can be a bit of a bumbler. That said, these products are a great addition to eyelash and eyebrow treatment and definitely condition and maintain. For more information, go to

Pevonia: Eye Makeup Remover, C Évolutive Eye Gel and Évolutive Eye Cream
~ These three products are super gentle and high performing, delivering results. I especially enjoyed the Eye Gel in the morning and then the Eye Cream in the evening; the products were non-irritating, quickly absorbed and didn't leave any tacky residue or feel. Makeup Remover gently removed without any tugging and didn’t leave any residue of color or mascara; also non-irritating. For more information, go to

reLastin Eye Silk ~ The morning’s application of the gel-like consistency to the delicate under eye area gave the skin a very smooth and hydrated feel; however, as the hours went by, I looked in the mirror and noticed that the area appeared drier and my fine lines more pronounced; the evening’s application was a repeat, although I eventually added another eye cream over this product to maximize hydration. For more information, go to

RevitaLash ~ The innovator of lash growth stimulators also produced results within four weeks. Out of all three “like” products, I thought the applicator brush for this one was designed better and was the easiest to use and control the application of product to just the base line where the lashes grew. Overall, I think nothing can replace a great mascara that has a terrific applicator brush to make your lashes look more stunning, versus not wearing any mascara (of course, false eyelashes are another option). Even after new growth results, the product will require faithfulness and diligence and a nightly routine of applying the product to maintain and extend any additional growth. I sometimes run out of these things, even for products like this. For more information, go to

DermaLash ~ This lash growth stimulator also produced results within four weeks. My lashes were never dark or thick; my hair color, now mostly gray, used to be what was referred to as dishwater blonde. The results this product produced were a slight improvement to the puniness of my lashes, although lash color didn’t darken. I think DNA trumps any of these products. If you’ve lost something over the years and then get it back, it will revert back to what you had before it was lost, not what you never had to begin with. Results diminished slowly once product use was discontinued. This product is also available in colors, for use as an eyeliner; I tried the one in Plum, which was a complementary color for me; nice to have if you forget to do the nightly routine. Again, I lack the discipline to maintain a nightly routine, but can see myself at least trying this approach. For more information, go to

neuLash ~ Another “oomph-those-skimpy-lash” growth stimulator products. The first few nights I used this product along the lash growth line, I noticed a bit of tearing and after three days, a dark line forming on the eyelid, so I discontinued use of the product along my lash line, and instead, opted to use it on my eyebrows, which is another suggested use for the product. The few areas where my brows were sparse received nightly applications of the product; I also swept the applicator lightly over the entire brow area. Fullness and new growth on the sparse areas was noticeable within four weeks. Would also require nightly continuation of product as a form of maintenance. For more information, go to


McEvoy Ranch 80 Acre Organic Body Care: Verde Hand & Body Wash, Verde Body Balm, Verde Olive Oil Soap, and Verde Hand & Body Lotion ~ These are all outstanding products that deliver results and are gentle to the skin and non-irritating. The aroma is extraordinary and although I’ve never been to an olive ranch, I can well imagine how walking through the groves has the same fresh cut luscious green aroma as these products. The Lotion is quickly absorbed and leaves skin hydrated for hours. I especially loved the Body Balm and used it on those areas prone to dryness, including the cuticles; very emollient. I would love for McEvoy to develop a perfume in this fragrance; it would be stunning. For more information, go to

Inspire by Dionis: Smart Three in One Shampoo, Body Wash & Bubble Bath, Brave Sugar Scrub), and Brave Hand Therapy ~ Body care for the young at heart with motivational sayings and quotations on product packaging. The Three In One had a pleasant delicate floral scent; lathered and rinsed well, leaving no residue. The Sugar Scrub had a nice grapefruit aroma and was my favorite product; thorough exfoliation and didn’t leave my skin oily feeling. The Hand Therapy moisturized well and had a fruity aroma, but was a bit hard to squeeze out of its tube. For more information, go to

Argiletz: Red and Green Clay ~ Prized for properties that include remineralization and detoxification, natural clays have been used for both medicinal and cosmetic purposes for hundreds of years. Many health facilities all over the world continue using clays for these purposes. These clays are preservative and additive free and gentle on most skins. Clays can be used safely on the hair, face or body. Fresh and earthy aroma; non-irritating or drying; hint: never let clays dry and then remove; this is counter to the intended purpose of removing toxins, which may revert back into the skin as clay dries. For more information, go to, or

Karawan Alep Soap: Olive Oil & Bay Tree Oil ~ This natural soap is prized for its gentle and effective cleansing capabilities, while providing natural hydration. The aroma is very earthy and the chunk of soap I used had a rustic shape, and reminiscent of a time when soap was painstakingly made in huge cauldrons over a blazing fire, put into forms and than left to dry for up to nine months. For more information, go to


Jane Iredale: “Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining” Fall Collection
~ Never mind what the calendar may say. Jane Iredale always comes through with color palettes that are season-less with gorgeous colors that work well individually or blended with other colors from other seasonal palettes. In the Fall Collection, I especially loved the Silver Lining PurePressed Triple Eye Shadow compact with colors of Twilight Silver, Glistening Silver and Shimmering Charcoal; wear one or wear all three; the result is always impressive. The Silver Liquid Eye Liner was another winner; I usually have trouble controlling eyeliner applicators, but with her applicator’s design, it was easy to control and I felt like a pro. The Midnight Blue Pencil made eye lining easy and gentle, since this pencil was soft on the delicate eye area and didn’t tug at it. The multi-purpose Double Dazzle Dual Highlighter Pencil is a use anywhere product; one end is in Gilded Gold and the other in Glowing Copper; ideal for adding highlights or a subtle hint of color wherever needed. The Hazelnut PureGloss Lip for Lips is gorgeous; a hint of mint and ginger also adds a bit of plumping. Her products and colors always make it easy to get a look that is brilliant, flattering and never garish. For more information, go to

Arbonne: Virtual Illusion Makeup Primer
~ Although a small amount to review, I definitely enjoyed this colorless product, which dries matte. It not only primed my skin for color, but it evened-out the texture, making it very smooth and silky; the application of color was effortless; non-drying or irritating. For more information, go to, or


Fleur d’ Amour Fragrance by Sylvie Beljanski ~ This lovely, light floral fragrance is a complex formulation that melds into a subtle floral; top notes of bergamot and black currant (Bourgeons de Cassis), with bergamot not at all discernable, quickly dried down to middle notes of lily, jasmine, peony and rose; the bottom notes were barely discernable (amber, musk, sandalwood and vanilla) in the dry down. The middle notes were more predominant than the top notes and to me gave it its characteristic subtle floral. For more information, go to

L’Occitane Certified Organic Lavender EDT ~ The first certified (EcoCert) organic product in this line where Provence-grown lavender is the predominant fragrance note; the dense formulation also includes notes of lemon, mint, white cotton, cedar and other aromatics. The fresh and crisp fragrance is very pleasant and subtle; dries down to a very subtle aroma. For more information, go to

L’Occitane Fig Tree Leaf Home Perfume Diffuser ~ A new entry in their Home Fragrance array, this product is very heady and aromatic; I’ve always loved Fig Tree Leaf, and the formulation is delightful, but the product evaporates too quickly, making for a very short lifespan. The square bottle design may be contributing to rapid evaporation, or the type of diffuser reeds used. Still, it’s a wonderfully aromatic new addition to their Home Fragrance product array. For more information, go to

L’Occitane Home Candles: Fig Tree Leaf and Provençal Landscape ~ Also new to their Home Fragrance array, these long-burning aromatic candles fill any space with a bit of the freshness and green of the Provençal countryside. Both fragrance versions were heady, without being cloying and were very subtle. The Fig Tree is intense and heady, while the Provençal is green and fresh. For more information, go to

McEvoy 80 Acres Verde Scented Soy Candle
~ This product is part of their prestigious home and body care array, and had a deliciously refreshing and green aroma; clean burning. Known for their certified organic estate olive oil, McEvoy 80 Acres has positioned itself by offering superior quality body care products in their array; they promote sustainability with an organic product that’s contained in 100% recycled packaging. For more information, go to

Aveda Chakra Balancing Body Mists ~ Seven individual body mists formulated for balancing each of the seven Chakras. Obviously a mist may not necessarily accomplish this, but the individual aromas are very pleasant and aromatherapeutic. Although not an expert in this field, I do feel that when certain Chakras are out of balance, one’s olfactory automatically draws them to the appropriately corresponding Chakra Balancing Body Mist, as if the intuitive aspect takes over, like a craving for something, with one’s preference dominating their selection; at least this is what I experienced. The mists are also suitable for spraying on bed linens, imparting a pleasantly faint aroma. Aveda spa locations do offer a Chakra Balancing Massage that utilizes these products. For more information, go to


Pevonia PevoVitale Vitamin Supplements: YouthRenew (Healthy Aging), ClariPlex (Healthy Complexion), LipoRefine (Smoother Skin), AccuMind (Mental Alertness), CircuLibrium (Optimal Circulation), and MenoLibrium (Peri-Menopause/Menopause) ~ Healthy skin and body care must also include aspects of nutrition, and these supplements target the specific areas of concern by feeding and replenishing the body with what it needs. I’ve taken all but the ClariPlex (which is recommended for those with problematic or oily skin), and have noticed that my appetite is diminished, although this isn’t one of the targeted results; still, I think that with the addition of these nutritional supplements regularly, and given my lifestyle and inconsistent eating habits, I’m getting a recharge of nutrients my body needs; overall, I feel better. Depending on a specific skincare regimen recommended by Pevonia, a recommendation of one or more of these supplements may also be suggested. For more information, go to


Republic of Tea Acai Berry Glass Bottled Tea ~ This brewed and bottled version of super-antioxidant Brazilian Acai berry, with an herbal (Red Bush) rooibos base, is delightfully tasting and very healthy; delicious as is, which is unsweetened, adding a bit of Agave nectar and a squish of fresh lemon will rev up this refreshing new addition to the already impressive array of teas. For more information, go to

Evian Glass Bottled Waters: Natural Spring (Still) and Badoit Mineral (Sparkling) Waters ~ These new entries to the U.S. market are well established throughout Europe. The source for the Natural Spring water is Cachat Spring, France, and Badoit at Badoit Spring, France. I’ve always enjoyed the clean taste of Evian Natural Spring Water (blue plastic bottles and also their Brumisateur, mineral water spray). The glass containers are naturally 100% recyclable. These glass containers naturally preserve the fresh and clean taste of their waters, while also being very refreshing. For more information, go to http//

McEvoy Ranch Certified Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil ~ Imported seedlings from Italy’s Tuscany region, brought here in 1991, were the beginnings of this estate’s olive groves and the basis of this outstanding “authentic” product. Prized by many top chefs for its clarity of taste and rich full bodied consistency, this estate grown and produced cold-pressed certified organic EVOO makes everything it’s used on taste exceptional; the product is the result of blending six different olive varieties grown on the estate. What results is a beautiful and delicate taste that is neither fruity nor bitter. I love this EVOO drizzled on my Caprese salad, garnished with my homegrown organic sweet basil. Delicious, for sure! For more information, go to

Hokto Organic Mushrooms ~ These aren't your ordinary dirt-grown mushroom varieties. These are organically and hygienically grown in a compostable growing medium on custom made growing forms. Each variety of White Beech, Brown Beech, King Trumpet and Maitake (Hen of the Woods) will delight the palate. As a mushroom purest, I find them at their peak flavor sautéed in a smidge of EVOO with a pinch of Sel de Mar and a light crank of peppercorns. Delicious to the point that other mushroom-types pale in comparison and you’ll switch your taste preferences. For more information, go to

Mii Amo Spa Cookbook “A Journey of Taste”
~ I’ve never had the good fortune to experience this premier destination spa, but their first cookbook venture is a beautiful narrative of what it’s like being at Mii Amo. It’s also a must-have for any foodie. More than tantalizing recipes and beautiful images, the book’s introduction and a detailed outline of a day at the spa definitely transports the reader to the environs. The reward is a motivational peek into Mii Amo’s windows and how to embark on a life-long commitment to achieving a healthful lifestyle through intelligent eating. This is more than a beautiful tabletop book. Recipes are easy for any level of culinary accomplishment. For more information, go to

CLOSING: I’ve been covering related topics involving the spa industry since the mid-1990s, including products and trends, and have tried to structure that coverage from the standpoint of being a consumer; coverage has also been non-advertorial. Since the mid-1990s, changes in these industries have brought about many extraordinary new products, ultimately benefiting the consumer. Whether it’s been to reformulate, refine, clarify, take advantage of new scientific or botanical breakthroughs, bringing about products that address specialty needs, ages, types and preferences (including sometimes finicky, easily bored, or even curious consumers), technology has led to the momentum of change and forward thinking by the gifted and talented.

I applaud all of the scientists, biologists, botanists, all of the other “ists”, and of course, the professionals who are dedicated to and passionate about their products and processes. Their collective goal always remains to provide the most safe and efficacious products, while meeting the unique and/or specific needs of their consumers. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about these products and will take the time to explore the individual websites to learn more about the entire product range for each product line mentioned.

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


Thursday, September 10, 2009


DISCLAIMER: For any of you not familiar with my work, which has been published since the mid-1990s in a number of publications, and especially any article content I'm currently and additionally posting on my article blog, let me state that what I am representing with this content hasn't anything to do with advertising. My content is editorial, not advertorial. Nor do I currently monetize any of the content. My objective firsthand reviews of properties and products are information and shared expertise. These articles and editorial content remain objective and are written by an authority and expert on the topics contained therein, myself.

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


Monday, September 7, 2009


Spa at Wynn Las Vegas Hotel Resort (Las Vegas, NV)

Forget about the moniker of “Sin City” and the declining economy. Las Vegas is bursting with spa properties that run the gamut of ordinary to extraordinary. Like Donald Trump, Steve Wynn knows how to consistently deliver and this eponymous first property of his never disappoints, no matter how many times one frequents it. The resort and spa are a must for anyone venturing to this global hotspot.

Treatment Experience: Good Luck Ritual

The Good Luck Ritual continues to be the Spa’s most popular signature treatment and is based on the five elements of Feng Shui (wood, fire, water, earth and metal). Naturopathica ( products are used exclusively for this treatment.

This treatment ritual began with a preparatory inhalation of Lemongrass & Ginger Bath and Body Oil, which stimulated and warmed olfactory tissue, while calming the nervous system; the body, hands and feet were then exfoliated using Bamboo Lemongrass Body Scrub (the pulverized bamboo is an incredibly gentle, non-abrasive exfoliator); the scrub was gently wiped off with warmed toweling; then the entire body and hands were massaged using the Lemongrass & Ginger Bath and Body Oil; the feet were then treated with the Peppermint Tea Tree Foot Balm; after these steps, the hands and feet were massaged and then wrapped in warm toweling. My therapist then covered my body with a warming blanket; a warmed herbal neck roll was also positioned, and my eyes were covered with a warmed herbal eye mask; after a short period of rest, the eye mask was removed, and a hair and scalp massage followed, using Wild Lime Blossom Oil, which helped restore the pH, while stimulating the senses; the final step involved a gentle facial massage with Beech Tree & Ginseng Moisturizer, for hydration; facial pressure points were also massaged using a warmed Thai poultice (I was given the poultice to keep).

I thoroughly enjoyed the Naturopathica products; all were very effective and extremely aroma-therapeutic. This ritual covered every inch of the body, including all pressure points and Chakras. My highly skilled therapist worked her magic alleviating my tense and sore muscles, while creating an environment of healing, calming and restoration.

It’s easy to see why guests favor this signature treatment ritual; “one-armed bandits” aside, it’s a sure bet and winner. For more information, visit

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


(Image: Women's whirlpool area; copyright, Wynn Hotel)


Spa at Geneva Ridge Resort (Lake Geneva, IL)

What used to be known as the Interlaken Resort & Country Day Spa is now the Geneva Ridge Resort & Spa. The resort portion received extensive renovations, while the spa is still “in waiting” for a major makeover; the protracted economic downturn will more than likely stall the spa’s much-needed and deserved makeover. In the heart of the Lake Geneva area, it remains a very popular destination for Midwesterners and especially Chicago-area folks in search of a short respite and recharge.

Treatment Experiences: Hot Stone Massage and Anti-Aging Facial.

The Hot Stone Massage began with my therapist (also the new spa director) conducting an in-depth discussion with me on my medical history, including specific back-related issues and injuries; once the intensity and modality of the massage was established, the treatment began. Although rigorous, I was definitely relaxed and noticed quite a bit of relief. The technique was wonderful and just the right thing after a long drive in rush-hour traffic.

The Anti-Aging Facial was very gentle, thorough and restorative; my esthetician began the treatment with a refreshing foot treatment that included a soak, exfoliating scrub and application of moisturizing lotion. Throughout this multi-phase treatment, Pevonia Botanica ( products were used. The steps of the facial were matched up with the full-range of products from the Dry Skin array and included the Rejuvenating Dry Skin Cleanser, Rejuvenating Dry Skin Mask, Rejuvenating Dry Skin Toner and Rejuvenating Dry Skin Cream. My skin was noticeably rehydrated and its texture smoother to the touch.

After this restorative facial, I received an application of Jane Iredale Mineral Makeup ( Amazing Base Loose Mineral Powder and a gentle sweep of Shimmer Powder. The pureness of these mineral formulations eliminated any concern over irritation or sensitivity; both products enhanced my natural appearance. The combination of the massage and restorative facial definitely delivered favorable results. For more information, visit

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



Avani Spa at Abbey Resort (Fontana, WI)

The Abbey Resort is a favorite destination for Midwesterners; it’s due North of Chicago; although it rests on the shores of glacial Lake Geneva, Fontana, where the property is located, is a neighboring city of Lake Geneva; this area has always been the home for wealthy Chicago-area industrialists and continues to be referred to as the Hamptons of the Midwest. Avani Spa is the new and improved version of what had been known as Fontana Spa; when Fontana opened in 1989, it was the area’s largest (35,000sf) and it’s first European-style spa, offering traditional European-style treatment therapies. The resort and spa are a preferred escape and rejuvenate destination for many Midwesterners, especially Chicago-area folks.

Treatment Experiences: Aromatherapy Retreat Wrap, Café Trio and Avani Relaxation Massage

Products used: Aromatherapy Treatment Wrap uses Trilium Organic Oils ( The treatment began with a gentle dry brushing and then an application of wonderfully aromatic organic grapefruit infused essential oil was applied; I was then wrapped in herb infused linens and allowed to rest and sweat away those terrible toxins; it had been some years since I had had an herbal wrap and I had forgotten how wonderfully relaxing and restorative an herbal wrap could be; in the final stages of the wrap, I had a delightful scalp and neck massage, although I would’ve preferred a facial massage, which is what the menu lists (my therapist informed me that I’d get this as part of my massage).

The Café Trio uses Body Coffee (
products. This multi-phase treatment began with a body exfoliation using the Body Polish, which contains ground Arabica coffee beans, Dead Sea salt and essential oils, and Body Coffee’s trademarked Coffee Blossom Essence delicately fills the treatment area. I’m led to the in-room whirlpool bath, which is filled with the Cleansing Body Wash; as I soaked away the Body Polish, I noticed the water was silky to the touch, as was my skin. I then returned to the treatment table where I was covered with a professional formulation of kaolin clay, herbal powders, green coffee extract, caffeine and sea algae; this formulation helped to open, cleanse and detox after being wrapped. I also noticed that the concoction made me sweat quite a bit, which was the object of this treatment phase; as a component of the treatment, my very capable therapist also massaged my face. After this phase, I was led to the Swiss Shower to wash and rinse away any product residue; this shower was exhilarating with its sixteen high-powered jets. The treatment ended with a thorough application of the Moisturizing Body Lotion. Plenty of water to rehydrate following my experience was another focal point of this treatment.

An incredible Relaxation Massage was the icing on the proverbial spa cake. The therapist used Biotone Organic Massage Cream ( My outstanding therapist also has a clientele list that includes a number of professional athletes, including the Chicago Bears. Impressive, yes, but it was her thorough and highly effective massage technique that was remarkable; she reacquainted me with many body parts I had almost forgotten about. The treatment was highly relaxing, but especially therapeutic with its targeted focus. An incredible, albeit abbreviated foot reflexology was also included.

The sequence of these treatments was an ideal way to maximize restoration and relaxation. For more information, visit

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


(Image: Spa atrium pool; copyright, Abbey/Avani)


Stonedrift Spa at Eagle Ridge Resort (Galena, IL)

Galena is an historic Victorian-era city located in the Northeastern part of the state, due west from Chicago. This area was carved out by glaciers, making the terrian markedly steep and rolling. IL and two other states have borders that converge at this point, WI and IA; all are clearly visible and in close proximity to each other. Many come to play world-class golf at the Eagle Ridge Resort, but the spa-savvy knows that Stonedrift Spa is where the real action occurs.

Treatment Experiences: Transcendent Facial and Mystic Sage Stone Ritual

Products used: Transcendent Facial uses Eminence Organics ( products that included Stone Crop Cleanser, Citrus Cleanser, Stone Crop Hydrating Mist, AHA Fruit Pulp Exfoliant, Stone Crop Masque, Blueberry Soy Repair Masque, Tomato Seed Vitamin E Oil, Stone Crop Whip Moisturizer, Naseberry Eye Exfoliant, Raspberry Eye Masque, Wild Plum Eye Cream, and Citrus Lip Balm.

What was exceptional about this treatment was that the cleansing, exfoliation, mask and hydration steps were given twice. The thoroughness of these outstanding products intensified the results of the treatment, which totally restored and brightened the skin. For me, the least favorite of the products were the eye products; I’m not a fan of fruit aromas in skincare products (except for citrus); that said, however, the product’s diminished my personal preferences. I enjoyed the Citrus Cleanser and especially the Stone Crop products. The treatment was a thorough sensory experience that included balance, restoration, and revitalization. Chakra balancing with gemstones, a thorough massage of the décolleté, arms, hands and feet, added to this multi-phase dimensional facial.

Another treatment experience was the Mystic Sage Stone Ritual. This treatment was another multi-phase and dimensional therapy that completely restored and uplifted my droopy persona. The treatment began with an application of Oregon Tilth ( organic herbal poultices of peppermint and lavender. Then, hot stones were placed on specific pressure points, while the body was massaged with infusions of clary sage and sage Ess Pure Essential Oils (various distributors). Between the intoxicating aromas of the essential oils, the incredibly relaxing deep penetration from the hot stones and my therapist’s technique, I was transformed and restored.

These restorative treatments, plus my therapist’s skillful technique, made for an enjoyable experience. For more information visit

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


(Image: Relaxation room; copyright, Eagle Ridge/Stonedrift)


Kohler Waters Spa (Burr Ridge, IL)

Burr Ridge is an affluent Western suburb of Chicago. The new day spa opened in the spring of 2008 and is contiguous to their new Design Center.

Treatment experiences: Deep Detox Body Treatment

Products used: Skin Authority ( and Fleur’s (

Before even setting foot into my treatment room, I opted to try the Circle of Tranquility. This was a recommended pre-treatment experience for all guests, and definitely sets apart Kohler Waters Spa from its competition. Kohler is definitive to water. The circular room for this water indulgence includes three different types of stimulating Kohler shower experiences (Quench, Envelop and Deluge); a 25ft. whirlpool area, complete with an eight-foot waterfall and water massage station, eight-foot cold plunge pool, dry sauna and steam. It’s recommended that guests try to spend at least thirty-minutes prior to their spa treatment getting prepped with this exceptional water immersion experience. The pre-treatment ritual is amazing and a definite must-do.

After a slight cool down, I traipsed over to the Relaxation Area and got rehydrated. My therapist greeted me and led me to my treatment area. She explained all of the elements of the treatment. All treatment products were by Skin Authority (SA), with the exception of the Fleur’s essential oils used during the facial massage step.

The Deep Detox Body Treatment began with a total body scrub with SA Purifying Energy Stimulation Scrub; the product was then removed with hot towels. Next, a full-body application of SA Deep Detox Ritual Mask, which contains Rhassoul clay, was applied; I was then wrapped with warming blankets; as I’m sweating and detoxifying, my therapist began giving me a very relaxing facial pressure point massage with Fleur’s Moisturizing Rare Essence Essential Oil for Dry Skin. The pressure point massage is extended to my shoulders, neck and scalp; after being totally transported to a place I could easily call home, I’m gently prodded to my in-room Kohler Ambient Rain shower to thoroughly rinse off any of the clay mask residue; returning to my the table, I’m given a super-hydrating application of SA Olive, Fig, Shea Butter Body Cream. My skin’s texture felt amazing, and the aromas of all products were calming. My therapist left a generous amount of water for rehydration.

The multi-dimensional Deep Detox Body Treatment delivered positive results and was very effective. The treatment not only relaxed me, but also significantly reduced my stress levels and left me with a definite spring in my step; both treatments also exceeded my expectation. For additional information visit

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


(Image: Part of the water experience; copyright, Kohler)


mySpa at Fairmont Hotel (Chicago, IL)

Treatment Experience: myRitual Hammam

Originating in the Middle East and taken to the new world (Spain) by migratory conquerors, the Hammam’s history is well documented and dates back over one thousand years. The Hammam traditionally included water, heat, steam, exfoliation and massage. Today’s hammam experiences continue this historical therapeutic ritual with aspects of detoxification, energizing, cleansing, purifying, relaxation and hydration.

Products used: Red Flower Hammam ( This was a multi-dimensional body treatment ritual, emphasizing Red Flower’s individual treatment phases of cleanse, scrub, polish, replenish and enrich.

Preparatory/Cleanse: A private shower primes the detoxification and purification process using the Moroccan Mint Tea Silt Purifier.

Scrub/Polish/Invigorate: Lying on a warmed treatment table, my therapist began the treatment with an application of Lemon Coffee Blossom Olive Stone Scrub; various massage techniques gently exfoliated and polished my skin. Hot towels were then used to remove the product.

Detoxify/Relax: A full-body application of Jasmine Rose Rhassoul Clay Polish was followed with my feet being wrapped in hot toweling; next, my body was also wrapped and covered in layers of blankets. My eyes were then covered with an eye pillow to further induce a state of deep relaxation. This helped to stimulate my body’s radiant heat, which induced sweating. As I self steamed, my therapist then massaged my shoulders, neck, face and scalp. I was unwrapped and escorted to the in-room shower to rinse off any traces of product.

Recharge: Toweled off, I got back onto the table, while the entire treatment area was misted with Orange Quince Steam Room Mist; its lovely aroma gently floated on me in the form of delicate droplets.

Relaxing Warmth: As a ritualistic blessing, the therapist then began massaging into my entire body warmed Cardamom Amber Oil, which furthered my state of relaxation, while rehydrating my skin.

Replenish/Enrich/Illuminate: The treatment ritual culminated with an application of an incredibly dense moisturizer, Tangerine Fig Butter Crème. Red Flower recommends a final bath soak, using their Neroli Cypress High Atlas Bath Soak; however, this step wasn’t offered at mySpa during my visit.

Red Flower found a way to formulate these products to conform and compliment one another in what seems to be dissimilar aroma-based products. By layering each individual product, a dense and heady mix of formulations result. Each product intensifies the efficacy of the previous product used. The aromas were complex and sophisticated. Individually, the product formulations and aromas worked well, but synchronously, they became incredibly effective and very aroma-therapeutic. My therapist’s technique was wonderful. My skin’s texture was silky and revitalized and my aches and pains were a faint memory. A chilled bottle of Evian ( for rehydration awaited me outside my door. My therapist escorted me to the Relaxation Area. All in all, the myRitual Hammam treatment ritual was an extraordinary treatment experience and exceeded my expectation. For additional information, visit

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


(Image: Spa hallway; copyright, Fairmont Hotel)

Sunday, September 6, 2009


The Spa at Trump, Trump International Hotel & Tower (Chicago, IL)

This new eponymous tribute to luxury is in the heart of Chicago’s downtown area, and in close proximity to the tony Mag Mile, where money continues to flow, despite the economy. Extraordinary views and scapes of the Windy City await the guest. It’s Trump, so what else would you expect?

Treatment Experience: Royal Lulur Ritual

The Royal Lulur is a 17th Century indigenous treatment ritual given to a royal bride-to-be over a forty consecutive day period prior to her wedding. The bride’s female family members would prepare her body for her betrothed and impart sage wisdom on what to expect as she transitioned into wedded bliss.

Products used: JAMU Asian Spa Rituals (

Live gardenia blooms (which I love) adorned my enormous treatment room. Half of the room was for the treatment area, while the other half accommodated a huge Kohler ( tub with jets that synchronously change to Chakra colors. The room also was filled with the delicate aromas of jasmine and frangipani; rounding out the visual and olfactory experience was the visual of an explosion of illusion candles everywhere my eyes focused.

Before the treatment began, my therapist explained the significance of the traditional ritual and then presents a tray of fresh gardenia blossoms and treatment products. After inhaling these heady aromas, my therapist left the room and I made my way towards the warmed treatment table and immediately wanted to fall asleep. My therapist began the treatment by applying Jasmine Frangipani Organic Massage and Body Oil. Using a combination of Asian and European massage techniques, my circulation was revitalized while my taught and achy muscles became pliable.

After the massage phase, an exfoliating Lulur scrub (Jasmine Organic Body, Hand & Foot Scrub), which contained tumeric, rice bran and Indonesian herbs, was mixed into a paste with some of the Jasmine and Frangipani Organic Massage and Body Oil. The scrub was applied to the entire body, which polished and brightened the skin. Resting briefly while the scrub air-dried, warmed yogurt was then applied on top of the scrub and massaged into the skin; hot towels were then used to meticulously remove the scrub and yogurt mixture. I was then wrapped in sheeting and escorted to my soaking tub, where I methodically cleansed myself further with Jasmine Frangipani Organic Bath & Shower Gel. The fragile aroma of numerous gardenia blossoms surrounding my tub’s perimeter, combined with the delicate aromas of jasmine and frangipani was almost distractive to the underwater lights in the enormous soaking tub as they changed colors; I definitely felt like royalty. As I languidly soaked in floral splendor, an arm’s reach bottle of New Zealand’s geothermal water, Waiwera ( was a reminder for me to drink and rehydrate. A faint knock was heard, which signaled that I had to reluctantly leave my new aquatic refuge area and return to the table. The grand finale of this exquisite treatment ritual included a closing round of calming massage strokes and a thorough application of Jasmine Frangipani Organic Hand & Body Lotion, which helped to replenish and hydrate my skin. As my ritual experience concluded, my outstanding therapist imparted a Balinese blessing on me by saying, “Om Suasti Astu”, or “peace in your heart and in the world”. Again, I didn’t want to leave, but pried myself off of the table. My therapist waited for me outside the room and gave me another bottle of Waiwera water to drink for continued rehydration; he then escorted me to the beautiful women’s Relaxation Area.

I thoroughly enjoyed my Royal Lulur treatment. My therapist’s technique was exceptional, and magically transformed my skin with JAMU's outstanding products, while totally eliminating my stress, aches and pains; my skin’s texture was greatly improved and left silky smooth to the touch; the skin also had a noticeable glow. After the treatment, I felt incredibly lighter. The ritual experience was a beautiful sensory experience as well. The Royal Lulur Ritual exceeded my expectations. For additional information visit

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


(Image: Spa tub, floating flowers; copyright, Huber)


OVERVIEW: Selecting the right mix of products to use during the treatment phase can make all the difference between a guest experience that is mediocre versus one that’s memorable and defines the spa experience. Furthering that experience by making sure these same products are also available to the guest in the retail area will ensure that the guest will be able to purchase the same products and re-create their treatment on an at-home basis. Consider including with their purchase a how-to guide on the proper use of the products to maximize their at-home experience. This added value will further the guest experience.

Following is a series of overviews of some recent spas I’ve experienced, the treatments received and the related treatment products used during the course of the treatment.

• Part I The Spa at Trump Hotel (Chicago, IL)
• Part II mySpa at Fairmont Hotel (Chicago, IL)
• Part III Kohler Waters Spa (Burr Ridge, IL)
• Part IV Stonedrift Spa at Eagle Ridge Resort (Galena, IL)
• Part V Avani Spa at Abbey Resort (Fontana, WI)
• Part VI Spa at Geneva Ridge Resort (Lake Geneva, WI)
• Part VII Spa at Wynn Las Vegas Hotel Resort (Las Vegas, NV)

SUMMARY: I wasn’t disappointed with the experiences or the products used and have actually found them ideally formulated and suited for an at-home experience. Of course, nothing can ever replace the skillful hands of qualified therapists and estheticians, and although the at-home experience is an acceptable interim for a spa-fix, nothing will ever replace an in-spa experience. These are experience investments that keep delivering, whether from the standpoint of at-home product use and treatment re-creation, or through memory recall of skilled hands administering the treatment.

I’d like to commend all professionals who make informed decisions on which treatment lines to use within their operation. Given the scope of product companies and products available, not too mention the new and “me-too” products entering in the marketplace that seemingly pop-up overnight, it must be a daunting task at times making the best product selections. If you’re not familiar with some of these lines, be sure to check out their websites for more information.

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