Friday, March 12, 2010
One of the latest spas to hit the “second city” is theWit Hotel Spa@theWit (theWit Hotel is a Doubletree Hotel and part of the Hilton family of hotels). Situated in the heart of downtown Chicago this new boutique hotel and spa targets a younger and edgier demographic. The hotel’s location on highly trafficked State Street is one of several other boutique hotels dotting a vibrant part of the “north Loop”, which has seen a rebirth in recent years. The hotel and spa opened approximately one year ago.
The spa is on the fourth floor of the twenty-seven-story structure and as soon as I got off the elevator, it was noticeably quieter; I’m sure special attention to acoustical sound-dampening materials played a role in this. The fourth floor also houses the Fitness Center, as well as the Yoga studio. The center, although compact, is well equipped with apparatus like Precor treadmills and ellipticals; the studio offers weekly Yoga classes. Because of limited space, additional guest amenities such as a whirlpool, steam room, and sauna, aren’t available at this location; however, I was informed that there are reciprocal accommodations for hotel guests for these types of amenities at other nearby Hilton Hotels, if requested.
Coming in from the suburbs by train and then being directed at the train station to a wrong bus, and thanks to the Chicago morning rush hour traffic, I got to the spa about ten minutes later than my appointment time, which was 9:00am (I left my home at 6:45am!), which left me no time to relax and leisurely change into spa-comfortable robing. Not one to arrive late to appointments, especially spa appointments, I was stressed and very apologetic to the cordial and understanding staff. Because of my tardiness, I was prepared to have my time decreased, which would’ve been a reasonable consequence, but the spa graciously accommodated me, since there wasn’t another appointment right after mine.
The color palette throughout the spa is a departure from the subtle and calming earth tones most come to expect in a space of relaxation and restoration; instead, cocoa brown with pops of color dominate the spa’s color palette. For example, approaching the treatment area, guests are visually jolted with a fuchsia pink back-lit image of a glowing free-form abstract flower, floating on a pitch black background; very edgy. The spa has four treatment rooms that are generously sized; one has an impressive in-room Swiss shower, complete with multiple jets and overhead rain shower; the women’s changing area is compact with a limited number of lockers, and a single, albeit generously sized, private shower. The design layout of the Whisper Lounge seemed a bit odd to me; there were three individual free-form chaise lounge chairs that looked impossible to get in and out of; each was separated with drapes that could be drawn open for a group chat experience. After my treatment, and in lieu of trying to finesse the in/out of the awkward and uncomfortable looking chaise lounge chairs, I opted to stand, while enjoying my cup of delicious Black Raspberry Tea with Chocolate Truffle (White Lion).
The treatment menu offers a variety of facials, massages, body wraps, body polishes, and mani-pani. The spa’s treatment lines include Eminence Organics, Essence of Vali, butter LONDON, ME! Bath, and Spa Ritual; guests can also purchase these products in the spa’s diminutive retail area.
Wanting to get away from the elements, especially knowing that my peds were in serious need of attention, I opted to try the spa’s Butter Me Up Pedicure, which was their sixty-minute deluxe version; in addition to the nail grooming and color application, it also included a sugar scrub, rich moisturizer, hot towel wrap and foot massage. My feet were in desperate need of some scrupulous attention; the heels were especially dry and calloused (winter’s vengeance didn’t help matters, either). The products used included butter LONDON’s Rock Off callous remover, Stiletto Stick heel balm, Lemongrass Sage hand and nail cream, and a base and top coat (I opted for no color since I’d be doing a lot of walking once I left the spa); also used was ME! Bath’s Gotta Have It Pomegranate sugar scrub.
Initially, the peds looked like a totally new pair of feet, renewed and hydrated. But once home and after a number of hours, the dry areas were still on the dry side, and the heel areas in need of more buffing and exfoliating. I’m not sure if the products used were formulated or geared towards combatting very dry skin like mine. Although disappointed with the results, the nail areas were nicely groomed. I guess I was hoping for my dry and calloused areas to become a part of seasonal history. Well, there's always a next time.
For more information, go to www.thewithotel.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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(Photo: Spa Treatment Corridor; theWit Hotel)