I NEVER CONSIDERED WISCONSIN a top spa destination, and that’s certainly not why I visited the small resort town of Elkhart Lake, just below the peninsula between Green Bay and the rest of Lake Michigan, but an afternoon at Aspira Spa challenged me — and not just about this one blip of ignorance.
The Potawatomi Indians named the region for the shape of its lake (yes, the shape of an elk heart) and believed the sacred waters were imbued with healing powers. In 1885 Otto and Paulina Osthoff relocated to the area after Paulina suffered a nervous breakdown and required a change in scenery from bustling Milwaukee. Paulina recovered, and the Osthoffs later built a resort that remains today the premier accommodation of the region. The eponymous Osthoff Resort, a consistent AAA Four Diamond Award recipient, is hyper-focused on encouraging a wellness experience that proves, intentionally or not, a fitting tribute to Paulina Osthoff’s recovery more than 130 years ago. Aspira Spa sits at the heart of its holistic approach.
Aspira, meaning “infused with spirit,” combines Eastern ideals of energy and design with the healing wisdom of indigenous peoples in an organic approach to wellness, and I was transported from the moment I entered. While the resort featured plenty of long, straight hallways, my path to the spa’s lounge incorporated no corners at all. Aspira was designed as three concentric rings, following principles of feng shui that were never more evident than in the Meditation Sanctuary where I awaited my treatment. Here, in a transcendent, round room lit only by a ring of candles surrounding a central copper pool fed by a trickling rock waterfall, I began to lose any sense of time or place among the five basic Chinese elements (earth, fire, water, metal and wood), freeing mental space for focus on my own wellness.
As much as I love a traditional Swedish massage, I try to choose unique treatments whenever they’re offered. Aspira’s vast menu includes Moroccan hot oil, lomi lomi, yin yang, chakra balancing and a host of other mindful options. The spa even offers Vichy showers and North America’s only chromotherapy spa tub, combining light and sound therapy with an immersive treatment. I chose the signature Cedars Massage and took my place on a table next to a crackling fire, ready for an 80-minute treatment promising relaxation and balance through tranquil massage with the aromatherapy of Elkhart Lake’s native cedars, revered by the Potawatomi.
For about an hour, my therapist lulled me to a place of distant reverie before cocooning me with cedar under a heavy blanket. I was relieved I didn’t feel claustrophobic or even hot while wrapped so snugly, lying next to a fire, and I enjoyed the light pressure she applied to points across my face and head, completing my rebalancing. And then I felt absolutely nothing.
Tightly swaddled and unable to see or touch anything, I became keenly aware of the stillness around me. When I no longer sensed the touch of my therapist for what felt like minutes, I wondered if I had been left alone, possibly to reflect or meditate. This hadn’t been mentioned in the description or in the pre-treatment assessment, so I was slightly confused by my abandonment. Until I began to tingle.
Slowly, my arms and legs began to awaken, with a somewhat electric sensation moving clockwise around my body, limb by limb. Oddly, I still couldn’t register any physical touch, and this baffled me as I inwardly debated whether I was experiencing some sort of treatment, just going numb in an orderly fashion or completely inventing the entire situation out of sensory deprivation. When the session ended, I was so bewildered I sheepishly asked my therapist whether or not she had left me alone for the last 20 minutes, without explaining what I felt or why I was asking.
She hadn’t left. Trained in Japanese reiki, she had been passing energy through my body, one area at a time, without physically touching me. If I had known ahead of time she would be doing this, I would have had my doubts about the technique; and if I even went through with it, I would have assumed I psychologically invented the sensations. Instead, I know now what I felt was genuine and an unexpected benefit of a spa with therapists who go beyond the traditional and embrace the ancient. Reiki wasn’t part of my treatment, but my therapist sensed I could use it. I believe she was right.
After a steam in the sauna, I sauntered to Spa Café, an exclusive bistro available only to guests of the spa, with a meticulously crafted wellness menu supplied by the resort’s organic gardens. I never made it to the yoga classes in the spa’s quiet studio, but I felt so newly connected to my body through the incredible intuition of my skilled therapist and the insightful facilities throughout Aspira that I didn’t regret my decision to take the rest of my efforts outdoors, on the lake itself. There I kayaked and hydro-biked my way into a perfectly restful weekend of wellness surrounded by the tranquil beauty of Elkhart Lake.
At FXExpress Publications, Inc., we can’t wait to #ComeBacktoTravel, and we can’t wait for the travel industry and others to #ComeBacktoGT. Take a visual journey through Japan with us.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, small businesses create two-thirds of net new jobs and account for nearly 48 percent of the U.S. private sector workforce. And small- and medium-sized businesses outpace all other sectors as one of the fastest-growing in the United States. InterContinental® Hotels Group (IHG) goes above and beyond to create opportunities for this segment with its IHG® Business Edge program, voted Best Small- to Mid-Sized Business Program in Global Traveler’s 2019 GT Tested Reader Survey awards.
THERE’S NO DOUBT 2020 HAS BEEN AN UNPRECEDENTED year for the travel industry. As borders begin to reopen and destinations, hotels and airlines around the world prepare to welcome travelers once again, we’re celebrating travel and looking to the future as we congratulate the winners of our eighth annual Leisure Lifestyle Awards. This annual survey honors the best in the world of leisure and lifestyle travel, awarding goods, services, destinations, hotels, airlines and cruises.
Best Western Hotels & Resorts opened its third Aiden by Best Western. The Aiden brand is designed to give travelers boutique, modern, stylish and locally inspired stay experiences. The new property is situated in Warm Springs, Georgia, adjacent to the Warm Springs Hotel and Event Center.
United Airlines’ environmentally friendly efforts lessen the impact on local U.S. communities.
THE BEGINNING OF AUTUMN in America offers a time to savor the last precious moments of summer against the countryside’s mosaic of reds, yellows, oranges and purples. Before long, the chill of winter will enter the air and the trees will grow barren. This is not news to most of us. Indeed, leaf peeping has become ubiquitous. Most states have 24-hour toll-free hotlines to keep you informed of nature’s progress ... and then there’s the traffic. It seems the entire population of New York City and Boston climbs behind the wheels of cars on congested New England roadways. Thus we’ve tried to avoid the mainstream routes so you can truly appreciate the kaleidoscopic splendor. After all, a fall foliage road trip provides more than a mere drive. It also incorporates picking apples, tasting cider and hot doughnuts and leaving your vehicle behind to take a much-needed scenic walk to a lonely waterfall, where autumn’s colors reflect off the water.
Through Sept. 7, guests at M Resort Spa Casino in Las Vegas can enjoy the No Resort Fee Summer promotion. The resort will waive daily resort fees on all reservations, and guests can also take advantage of summer rates beginning as low as $75 per night. Book online or by calling 877 673 7678.
Since 1970, Goway Travel has been committed to providing customized travel experiences for world travelers. Few things are better evidence of this commitment than being awarded the 2019 Trazees award for Favorite Tour Operator. Goway Travel heartily thanks the readers of Trazee Travel for this honor and for their confidence in Goway’s work in creating travel memories that’ll last a lifetime.
Many travelers turn to Instagram for travel inspiration, even now as many still remain at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Inkifi, a company that creates products from users’ own photos using environmentally friendly products, compiled a list of the world’s most Instagrammed hotels.