A new year is a fresh start, and an ideal opportunity to recommit to wellness. While in the past spas were considered destinations for pampering, they’ve since evolved into places to get away, disconnect from the pressures and pulls of daily life and focus on your body, mind and overall well-being. Wisconsin is home to an impressive array of spas—with eight offering rejuvenation within a two-hour drive from Madison.
Evensong Spa at the Heidel House Resort, Green Lake
Set in a Prairie-style building, the Evensong Spa is crafted in rich earth tones and natural elements, which makes for a harmonious vibe. Multiple fireplaces further the sense of warmth. Spa staff enjoy creating seasonal treatments (Facebook fans will help choose the spring feature), with the Hot Buttered Rum Holiday Relaxer serving as the winter special. The star of this service is an exfoliating scrub that smells like a decadent mix of brown sugar, butterscotch and rum—better than anything you’ve ever baked! It’s applied to your legs, arms, back and stomach before being removed with a warm wet towel. Next comes a massage with a sweet-smelling cream that leaves your limbs smooth and limber. After your treatment, cozy up on a chaise, complete with a soft blanket, next to floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Tuscumbia Country Club. Or munch on fresh fare in the adjoining café. Additional must-dos include walking the white-stone-defined labyrinth at the center of the spa, sitting in the eucalyptus aromatherapy steam room or soaking in a hot tub with its own waterfall.
Aspira Spa at the Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake
The Cedars Massage is a natural treatment choice at this spa, which draws inspiration from Native American and holistic principles. The spa sources fresh cedar from trees near the shore of Elkhart Lake, which makes for an incredibly refreshing aromatherapy experience at the start of the massage. The service incorporates down-up motions with oil on your legs, arms and back. A focus on the head, neck and shoulders comes next, with warm towels and sprigs of cedar being placed on your body as the relaxing conclusion. Post-massage, my mind felt blissfully blank and I simply sat in the warm sauna and lingered in the whirlpool in a light-filled lounge area. But don’t leave without spending time in the meditation sanctuary, a quiet space at the heart of the spa featuring a circular copper pool surrounded by flickering votive candles.
Sundara Inn & Spa, Wisconsin Dells
Sundara is a delight of the Dells, an unexpected oasis of calm. With amenities like indoor hot and cold pools, an outdoor whirlpool, infinity pool and fire pit and a quiet relaxation room, the spa also offers a wonderfully modern-day benefit: No electronics allowed! I decided to recharge the natural way with the Marma Massage, one of the spa’s energy therapies. After filling out a short questionnaire to identify my dosha, the therapist chose herbal oils based on my mind-body type. Using rhythmic, wavelike motions on the legs, arms, back and shoulders, the massage focuses on vital energy points and paths throughout your body. You can continue a journey of unwinding by enjoying lunch on the second-floor mezzanine overlooking pine trees, hiking along the Meditation Trail, which features seven meditation spots corresponding to the seven energy centers of the body, or spending the night in one of the soothing spa suites.
GO WITH THE FLOW
Kohler Waters Spa at the American Club, Kohler
At the Kohler Waters Spa, you’re never far from the replenishing effects of water—wherever you go, you feel, hear or experience it in some sensory way. A must-try hydrotherapy service is Lavender Rain, a signature treatment of the only five-star spa in the state (and one of only forty-eight in the entire world). You begin with a lavender and eucalyptus exfoliation, followed by a rinse from a custom Kohler vichy shower, an apparatus that choreographs a multi-shower-head water massage over your body, and conclude with a massage using a rich moisturizer. Afterward, I reclined in one of the chaises flanking the underground pool, relaxed in the sun-soaked fourth-floor lounge and took a dip in cold and hot plunge pools. For an enhanced experience, book a posh room at the Carriage House; you can spend an entire weekend in your spa robe or take advantage of the celebrated dining options at the American Club.
Avani Spa at the Abbey Resort & Spa, Fontana
The Avani Spa opened at the Abbey back in 1989, long before destination spas became trendy. So it’s not surprising they’ve developed a wide array of treatments beyond the standard massage. A particularly lovely and multifaceted option is the Silk Bath and Wrap. You begin with a full-body exfoliation and then soak in a jetted tub full of re-mineralizing seawater for about twenty minutes. After the bath, your body is slathered in a thick gel, then wrapped in plastic and warm towels. While you’re cocooned, you receive a head and face massage before shedding your layers and stepping into a steam shower. The treatment ends with a rich lotion applied via a massage. With my skin smooth and mind calm, I headed to the whirlpool and steam room area and then read by the expansive indoor pool; a light lunch eaten alongside the water was an extra delight.
The “WELL” in the title of the spas at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee and the Grand Geneva Resort in Lake Geneva (and Platinum Hotel in Las Vegas) is a sign that you’re in for a luxurious experience. The signature spa program of the Milwaukee-based Marcus Corporation, WELL Spas are characterized by an emphasis on nurturing guests. The Pfister location offers an elegant big-city escape. Enjoy a glass of champagne before undergoing the Vie 3D Facial, a highly specialized treatment that incorporates facial washes, serums and masks, as well as a partial-body massage. At the Grand Geneva, the focus is on health and harmony; the spa sits alongside an array of fitness amenities, including an indoor lap pool and rock climbing wall. Couple a workout with the Eastern Ceremony treatment, a massage inspired by Southeast Asian rituals that’ll leave you relaxed and energized.
You don’t have to leave the city to feel like you’ve gotten away from it all. When the Edgewater Hotel reopened in 2014, it brought with it the new Edgewater Spa. Choose from more than ten massage options, or go with one of the specially tailored facial treatments. The Epicuren Hydrating Facial is equal parts relaxing and rejuvenating, utilizing the benefits of a product line offered only in top spas. Before you venture back into the real world, take a dip in the spacious warm pool and a peek at the spa’s incredible views of Lake Mendota.