IT WAS JANUARY IN CHICAGO. Needless to say, it was frigid, especially on Michigan Avenue, close to Lake Michigan, with the winds off the lake absolutely chilling. The thought of my late-afternoon spa visit at The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago warmed my soul as I ran between various areas of downtown Chicago for business meetings.
Overall, my entire overnight visit to the recently revitalized and iconic Chicago property was cozy, comfortable and a warming contrast to the extremely cold outdoor temperatures.
In July 2017 The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago debuted its multimilliondollar refurbishment, inspired by the bold architecture of the city and showcasing panoramic skyline views and an exceptional permanent art collection. My suite’s multiple rooms each boasted stunning views out to the lake and recognizable Chicago landmarks like the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier. My favorite piece of artwork was Roy Lichtenstein’s Wallpaper with Blue Floor Interior in the ground-floor lobby.
Other hallmarks of the redesign include the Flying Wave, a floating structure made of four types of handblown glass in the lobby; more than 25,000 square feet of renovated event space, including The Ritz-Carlton Ballroom; and the addition of Torali, Italian – Steak, a modern steakhouse concept on the 12th floor.
But The Ritz-Carlton Spa was top of my mind that afternoon; it also recently underwent a facelift. Elements of stone and walnut complement a soothing color palette, a reflection of the nearby shores of Lake Michigan. Hydration-inspired treatments provide nourishment and revival, including a high-powered antioxidant facial, a full-body glow treatment and targeted muscle recovery massages for athletes. The facility includes five treatment rooms, a men’s and women’s steam room and a brand-new nail salon; the products used are exclusively ESPA natural skincare.
I’ve visited several ESPA-branded spas and facilities that utilize the brand’s products. Each time, I’ve been pleased with the after-effects, seeing both short-term and long-term, lasting results. My experience at The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago was no exception.
ESPA products work from the inside out, combining holistic well-being philosophies with the work of biochemists, skin experts, dermatologists and aromatherapists. Products combine plant actives, marine actives and essential oils into all-natural options that work naturally with your skin for immediate benefits and lasting effects.
My therapist was waiting at the spa reception check-in desk when I arrived, and she personally escorted me to the locker room. With the spa, pool and fitness center centralized in one location, it was a bit busy. I quickly changed into my luxurious robe and made my way back to the lobby, where my therapist again waited to lead me to the treatment room. Reception separates the changing/pool area and the treatment rooms.
I was scheduled for an 80-minute custom facial, beginning with a skin analysis. Overall, I’m lucky. I don’t have major skin issues — my normal skin isn’t generally too oily or dry, and I rarely have serious breakouts. Blackheads are relegated to the normal T-zone, but I still bristled slightly when my therapist mentioned extractions. But as much as they hurt, they are necessary for the skin, so I agreed. She was quick and, overall, it was relatively painless — extractions were needed only on my chin and around my nose.
One area of contention I do have is my dark under-eye circles, which you know if you’ve read my Spas articles with any regularity. When I mentioned this to my therapist, she made a suggestion — one I’d never heard before despite a fair number of facials in which I’d brought up the same subject. As the skin around the eyes is thin and covers lots of blood vessels, she suggested I may rub too harshly to remove my makeup, essentially “bruising” my under-eye skin. I am more aware of my scrubbing techniques now, and I definitely notice a difference.
My facial, designed to purify, hydrate, brighten and smooth my complexion, also involved a deep brush cleanse; a facial exfoliation; a face mask; and a head, neck and scalp massage. One word: decadent. My therapist described each step to me and every product she used, but I must admit I can’t remember all the details. I was totally relaxed during the treatment, which obviously benefitted not only my skin but also my psyche.
With business done in Chicago, it was time to gather my bags and head to O’Hare International Airport for my night flight to Philadelphia. I arrived home just a little more dewy and fresh-faced than I left.
The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago
Water Tower Place
160 E. Pearson St.
Chicago, IL 60611
tel 312 266 1000
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I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
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