Monday, July 25, 2011


…with Phytomer, Moroccanoil, Kerstin Florian and Shiffa Dubai…

Recent spa experiences at Avani Spa (Lake Geneva, WI), Kohler Waters Spa Chicago (Burr Ridge, IL) and The Spa at Trump Chicago (Chicago, IL) were not only enjoyable, but the treatments received were therapeutic and restorative. Each treatment experience involved a variety of high quality treatment products that were also available for purchase either at the spa’s retail boutique, or online. Products adapted well to an at-home regimen. Every time I used the different products at home, I was reminded of my treatment experience at each respective spa, making for its at-home use all the more enjoyable.

While the initial treatment product’s efficacy in the spa treatment setting is momentary and not necessary a gauge for long-term suitability, having used the products over a period of time in an at-home controlled environment allowed for me to gauge the product’s efficacy and better determine how the products would improve or maintain the texture of the skin and its firmness over time, and whether or not there was any noticeable improvement to the overall quality of the skin. Other products, such as those used on the body or even hair, had the same criteria applied when determining their overall efficacy and noticeable improvements. For each of the following at-home product reviews, I tried to consistently use each product over a period of four weeks to gauge their levels of effectiveness.

Caveats ~

Before making a purchase of any product at the spa, always consider the at-home suitability before making the purchase. If you enjoyed the results post-treatment, in all likelihood, you’ll enjoy using the products at home. And, as with any product, should contraindications occur, or the performance isn’t at the level of expectation, don’t hesitate contacting the spa. Lastly, be sure to thoroughly understand how to use the products correctly in order to maximize their efficacy and adaptability to an at-home regimen. Consulting your spa professional on these matters, which includes asking questions and seeking their advice, is highly recommended. This approach may not be “science”, but the time spent looking into such matters will yield better results and no disappointments. Based on my experiences, however, this approach works every time.

Quick Reference ~

To read about the spa and treatment specifics, following are the original review article dates. Go to the “article archive” section, locate the date and then click on the link and read each article.

  • Avani Spa ~ April 12, 2011
  • Kohler Waters Spa Chicago ~ May 16, 2011
  • The Spa At Trump Chicago ~ July 5, 2011


Phytomer Custom Facial ~ Phytomer Product Range

  • Vegetal Exfoliant
  • Youth Reviver Age-Defense Mask
  • Perfect Visage Gentle Cleansing Milk
  • Rosée Visage Toning Cleansing Lotion
  • Expert Youth Wrinkle Correction Cream

Why the products work ~

All of these products were gentle, non-irritating, and delivered results. The key to the products includes formulations rich in marine by-products that are nutrient-rich; seaweed, like laminaria digitata, a very dense and potent marine by-product that re-mineralizes, nourishes, hydrates, and restores is a stellar ingredient in this product line. The immediate thing I noticed after using the products was that my skin looked healthier and refreshed. These products drenched my skin with moisture, without leaving any tacky residue; the cream was quickly absorbed and hydration levels remained throughout the day. I loved the gentleness of the Gentle Cleansing Milk and the aroma of the Rosée Toner. A real winner was the Vegetal Exfoliant, an enzymatic peel (papain from papaya) that exfoliated without assaulting or damaging the delicate facial tissue (often the case with harsher exfoliants). The Age-Defense Mask corrects fine lines and wrinkles; it removes easily and leaves no residue; skin is noticeably brighter. The Wrinkle Correction Cream is one of my new faves. I loved its texture and aroma; it definitely improved the look and feel of my skin.

Aqua Embrace Hair Treatment ~ Moroccanoil Product Range

  • Oil-No-More Professional Scalp Treatment
  • Intense Hydrating Mask, Argan Oil Enriched
  • Light Oil Treatment For Fine and Light-Colored Hair
  • Hydrating Styling Cream For All Hair Types

Why the products work ~

Using products rich in Argan Oil on my fine and oily-prone hair seemed counterintuitive. Argan oil, the power ingredient behind this line, has been cherished for centuries for its healing, nourishing, repairing and revitalizing properties. Because of my fine and oily-prone hair, I tend to totally avoid conditioners and hair masks like they were some form of communicable disease. What I end up with is semi-fried and dried feeling and looking hair. Never mind that I think that’s how my type of hair should feel and look after it’s been shampooed. Then, add to this the abuse from styling and blow-drying products, and you have the perfect storm. That is, until I was introduced to Moroccanoil products, at the Avani Spa.

Moroccanoil is THE product that has taken salons by storm, so much so that it’s difficult to keep product stocked for the fanatical devotees. The power ingredient is Argan Oil, which has been used for centuries by women in the Middle East either as a skin-softening agent, hair treatment, or even in food preparations. Although I have fine and oily hair, the marvel of these products was that instead of being weighted down with an oil, my hair was actually volumized, made thicker and healthier to the touch, and of course, it added a luster that I thought I had lost forever as part of the aging process.

The Scalp Treatment is a professional-only formulated product. The Hydrating Mask left my hair wonderfully smooth and silky once the hair was completely dried. And whether the Light Oil was used on either damp (or dry hair to tame the “wild-ones”), it added a beautiful luster and brought my lifeless hair back to life. The Styling Cream heightened the vibrancy of my revitalized hair. I didn’t use all of the products at one time, since that would be “over-kill”. I used the Mask one to times a month, the Scalp Treatment monthly, the Light Oil one to times a week (or on the ends as needed), and the Styling Cream, occasionally (since I’m not one to regularly style my tresses, especially since I have short hair). Not only did these products perform exceptionally well, their aroma was also fabulous. Any Light Oil residue was rubbed into my dry cuticles, all over my hands and onto my elbows; the residue added a good dose of hydration to those areas. I’d love for Moroccanoil to formulate a body lotion. I think it would be another stellar product for their line and one that dull, dry and lifeless skin would greatly welcome!


Kohler Waters Seasonal Wrap ~ Kerstin Florian Product Range

  • Rehydrating Neroli Cleansing Milk
  • Rejuvenating Thermal Tonic
  • Rejuvenating Anti-Stress Oil

Why the products works ~

These products are exceptional for a facial regime, but were administered during the facial massage portion of the body wrap treatment. All of the products were gentle and non-irritating. The Cleansing Milk formulation included green tea, algae, aloe vera, apricot kernel oil, orange flower water and grapefruit seed extract. The overall texture was light and non-drying; it rinsed clean, left no residue, and had a neutral aroma. The Thermal Tonic formulation included witch hazel extract, chamomile and rose oil. It was refreshing and removed any traces of the Cleansing Milk. Its aroma was neutral. The Anti-Stress Oil formulation included essential oils of geranium, Melissa and lavender. The product was quickly absorbed, left no residue or tackiness and maintained levels of hydration. The combination of such healing and aromatic essential oils made this product my favorite.


Signature Balancing Diamonds Massage ~ Shiffa Dubai Products

  • Signature Gemstone Diamond Body Oil

Why the product works ~

This extraordinary oil penetrated deeply into the skin, adding a renewed level of hydration, while also improving the overall texture of the skin. The oil quickly absorbed without leaving any residue or tackiness. This custom blended formulation is rich in oils that nourish, heal and revitalize.

This luxe formulation includes almond, sunflower, macadamia, apricot, sesame, jojoba, evening primrose, orange, damask rose and neroli oils. In addition to providing superior hydration that lasted for hours, the evening primrose, damask rose and neroli oils made for an exceptionally aromatherapeutic product that was delightful to my olfactory sense. The formulation also included minute particles of diamonds, which infused gemstone energy within the oil to aid in balancing, calming and restoring. This exquisite oil was gentle enough for the face, and I loved spreading the residue on cuticles and hands. This custom gemstone signature oil is available at any of the Trump Spas that offer this signature treatment, while the Shiffa Dubai website offers other types of oil blends for online purchase. There is also a complementary Balancing Gemstone Candle, infused with the same aromatherapeutic properties of the exquisite oil.

For your consideration ~

Next time you enjoy a treatment at a spa that you truly enjoyed, be sure to check out the spa’s retail boutique before you leave, and see if some of the products used in the treatment are also available for purchase. And be sure to ask a staff member for assistance; they’ll gladly assist you with your purchase and even share with you recommendations on ways to properly use the product at home to maximize its efficacy. Most spas are more than happy to also help develop an at-home regiment for you. If the products aren’t available at the spa, check out the respective product website and consider purchasing the product online. Lastly, while most products are available for consumer use, some may not be available due to the formulation being limited for use only by your trained spa professional.

Either way, taking a bit of the spa home with you ensures that you’ll be reminded of that spa experience and how much you enjoyed everything about it, including the products used, each time you incorporate the product(s) in an at-home regiment. Using the products at home is one way to reactivate the sensory-driven experience, which is what spa-ing 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, and is Group Manager for the popular LinkedIn group, The Spa Buzz. You can email her at


(Photo credits as represented from the specific brand.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011



In the heart of the Windy City, just a strong wind’s howl from the tony Mag Mile, stands the majestic eponymous Trump International Hotel & Tower embracing the city and its iconic river. It’s grand real estate fit for the mogul king of real estate, Mr. Donald Trump.

Trump has always resolved himself to move forward with passionate diligence while pursuing success, despite financial and economic setbacks, the type that would otherwise devastate a less-hardy soul, but certainly not Mr. Trump. While bumps occurred to him in the past, a major one was looming in the road, which caught everyone off guard, except, perhaps, Mr. Trump.

It was the fall of 2007 and while the sky didn’t fall, the bottom of the economy certainly fell. In the midst of construction and too far into the Chicago project for it to be abandoned, instead of Mr. Trump pulling out his hair, he moved forward with the project, and continued to build his eponymous and spectacularly grand hotel with residences. The worm wasn’t going turn on Mr. Trump’s watch.

Part of the “grandness” of the multi-location Trump International Hotel & Tower
story includes business travelers and the jet set that parks it regularly in premium landscaped destinations. The enviable portfolio includes Trump New York, Trump Las Vegas, Trump SoHo New York, Trump Chicago, Trump Waikiki, Trump Toronto, and soon to open, Trump Panama. And, while the hotel and residences are all well and good, the word “spa” has always been an integral part of the Trump success. If it’s a Spa at a Trump, then it’s been elevated to be synonymous with all-things Trump-executed; it's grand, glorious, purposeful, restorative, luxurious, and trendy. And, for the guest’s “whatever”, regardless of time and place, or how they define it, this, too, is all part of the execution.

My first The Spa at Trump Chicago experience was shortly after the Spa and Hotel opened in the spring of 2008. I’ve been reviewing luxury properties with spas since the mid-1990s, so I wasn’t any stranger to luxury surroundings or even staff that did their best not to acknowledge why I was there in the first place, despite my being inconspicuous and nonchalant. I’ve done this enough times to also know when I’m getting a snow-job by staff who make me uncomfortable because they’re uncomfortable with my presence. No, setting foot into The Spa At Trump Chicago was totally different, I felt at home, relaxed, comfortable. I was treated just as special any other guest I observed being treated. We were all special; individually, we were treated as though we were the only guests there. This was definitely exemplary of an experience that was Trump-executed. I was Trump-ed.

Items of Interest ~

Spa and Fitness Center are co-located on the hotel’s fourteenth floor. The Spa is 23,000 square-feet and has eleven spacious treatment rooms. A signature amenity for every guest is the Spa Attaché that meets and greets, gives a thorough tour of the complete environs, while explaining every aspect of each individual treatment. They will also assist in making recommendations on certain treatments that will maximize the guest’s intended results from their experience. The Attaché is available throughout the guest’s entire spa experience, up until checkout. This is truly exemplary service!

Fitness Center has a separate room, with additional equipment set out on the floor, overlooking some of Chicago’s impressive architectural scape, Chicago River and Lake Michigan. Also within the enclosed area are two Studios, where classes are held each day of the week; these include Spinning, Yoga, Pilates, Kickboxing, Hula Hoop and others. During warmer months, guests can workout on exercise bicycles on the Terrace. There are currently sixteen group classes held in the Studios and Pool. Hotel guests and local area residents can purchase memberships to the Fitness Center. Also available is a Personal Trainer.

Guests also have access to a magnificent Pool. Unfortunately, there isn’t any whirlpool.

Spa Suites are also available for the discriminating hotel guest that’s fully focused and desires to immerse themselves in total sensory activated spa experience, stress-free and restorative. The fifty-three Suites are conveniently located on the fourteenth floor, opposite the Spa and Fitness Center; one of the elevator banks is even programmed only for registered guest’s to access their floor from the lobby. The Suites are spacious, between 600 and 900 square feet. The rooms offer glorious panoramic views of the city, healthy waters and snacks, exquisite bedding and fabulous bathrooms. Every aspect of the rooms elevates the guest’s well-being and sensory experience, enabling them to achieve optimum levels of relaxation and restoration. This is spa-luxe to the max!

The main entry is the Reception Area and Retail Boutique. Guests are encouraged to immerse themselves in the Relaxation Path of Experience ~ Heal, Purify, Revitalize in the generously sized gender-specific locker areas. The circuit includes the Hot Sauna (Heal), the Steam Room (Purify), and the Deluge Shower Experience (Revitalize).

In the locker room areas, guests also have bathroom access to a unique specialty product bar that includes essential oils geared towards an Intention such as Calm, Balance, Purify, or Revitalize; each oil blend is unique to the guest's desired "intention" .In addition to the custom blended oils, there’s also an aloe vera face mask, an exfoliating body scrub, and a shea body butter. The guests can blend their preferred oil with one of the other products to add an element of aromatherapy to one’s Intention, or can be used alone as a moisturizer. Many guests enjoy the ability to customize their own products before going into either the steam or sauna for an expanded spa treatment experience; the body butter adds a wonderful layer of hydration to skin that has been exposed to rigorous exercise, swimming, steam, sauna, or used after the personal shower or Deluge Shower.

There are individual Relaxation Lounges within the locker areas, and also one enormous co-ed Relaxation Area where healthy snacks, fresh fruit, flavored waters, and hot beverages are available; guests can also request chilled bottled water. The Spa also accommodates guests who wish to dine in the Spa and offers a special menu of healthy selections to choose from, including selections made with certified organic produce and other locally sourced ingredients; a nutritionist has also assisted in the development of the menu.

The approach to the treatment experience for each guest is to focus on the Trump Inspired Personal Intentions. These are the cornerstones of the Spa's guest spa experience, and include treatment options that Purify, Balance, Revitalize, Calm, or Heal. Signature treatment experiences include the Trump Signature Gemstone Spa Treatments. These signature treatments include Balancing Diamonds Massage (Balancing), Purifying Emeralds Massage (Purify), Revitalizing Rubies Massage (Revitalize) and Calming Sapphires Massage (Calm, Heal).

For each unique massage intention, there is a corresponding superior quality essential oil formulation geared towards the energy of each unique massage intention, including actual gemstone particles that emanate their specific form of energy. The use of gemstones (minerals or crystals) has been utilized for many years by many cultures to cleanse, balance, heal, purify and revitalize. These gemstones (minerals or crystals) are also believed to correspond to one’s energy points, or Chakras. The Spa At Trump uses Shiffa Dubai custom infused oils, which also includes minute particles of the corresponding gemstone; the gemstone infuses its own type of gem energy within the formulation.

For my treatment experience, I chose the Balancing Diamonds Massage. My massage therapist was Tameka, and one of the better therapists I’ve had work on me in quite some time. The intention of the ninety-minute signature treatment was to balance my Crown Chakra; the Crown Chakra is the seventh one and located at the top of the head. Additional balancing aspects included providing clarity, inspiring and enlightening me, while massaging me into a state of restorative balance.

Although my exceptional massage therapist, Tameka asked me about my problem areas she should focus on throughout the treatment, my experience has taught me that whenever a highly skilled and experienced massage therapist is involved, they can tell where those areas are just by their skillful touch. I left her skilled touch to find all of my areas that needed massaging, restoration and balance.

Tameka methodically massaged my meridians with a strong and firm, yet painless, amount of pressure; she knew when to ramp it up and when to pull back; experience and skill will do that. Her long fluid strokes, short strokes, deep and light pressure throughout the ninety-minute treatment was gladly received. I was amazed at how pliable my limbs, toes, digits, back, front, neck and head became after this labor-intensive restorative treatment. The massage was intense and every bit of me got a thorough working over. I came into the room stiff and in various stages of discomfort. I left totally renewed and without any of these negative elements. It was one of the better massages I had received in a number of years.

Throughout the treatment, Shiffa Dubai Diamond Body Oil was used. This formulation of pure essential oils contains almond, sunflower, macadamia, sesame, evening primrose, orange, damask rose, chamomile and neroli, were not only effective with their hydration properties, but was deeply aromatherapeutic as well. Based on my experiences, superior quality oils have a pure and intense aroma, such as this product. Inferior grades are irritating in their aromatic properties because of the use of synthetics, fillers, inferior quality oils, etc.

The massage technique naturally warmed the oils as it was applied to the body; it also provided a continuous glide throughout the treatment where my therapist didn’t have to keep stopping to reapply; this is another example of skill and experience on the part of the therapist. In addition to this wonderful product, there were also tiny particles of diamonds, which also infused its own gem energy into the blend; I never felt any of the actual particles, however. In doing a bit of research, I would learn that over the centuries, diamonds have been valued as a symbol of wealth, and in the realm of healing, balance and harmony, diamonds have been revered for their properties of purity, stimulating the Crown Chakra, cleansing, reducing fear, stimulating innate creativity and imagination. In gem therapy, diamonds are also valued as a vehicle towards attaining higher spiritual enlightenment, while removing negativity and any perceived blockages for mental clarity and acuity.

Final Item ~ If you’d like to read my initial review article on this gorgeous spa facility, please refer to my September 6, 2009 article post; and if your curious about me querying Mr. Trump about the treatment trends at the Spa, please refer to my October 9, 2009 article post.

The Spa At Trump, Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago offers an extraordinary spa experience. Here’s where luxury, urban chic, and exemplary service underscores each guest’s uniqueness and spa intentions. As a guest, I definitely left in better condition than when I arrived. Highly recommended.

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, and is Group Manager for the popular LinkedIn group, The Spa Buzz. You can email her at


(Photo credits as represented from the specific brand.)