A fresh take on Chicago

Twenty floors above Chicago’s Magnificent Mile the letter P is redefined. – perfection, pummeled, pampered, pleasurable, posh and all at the 5 star Peninsula Hotels spa.

Voted the best of the best hotels by Zagat’s 2003 survey, the high quality of service and attention to detail comes as no surprise to savvy travellers.

The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited is renowned for their emphasis on impeccable staff training and creature comforts, leaving nothing to the imagination. And The Spa is no exception.

At this urban oasis, The Spa, at ‘The Pen’, as it’s affectionally referred to, on the 19th and 20th floor of a stately building, the first impact is the several astonishing floral arrangements with leaves and stones set in clear glass containers together with bamboo stalks and strange exotic flowers dramatically shooting up against the stark background of this sleek designed space, clearly paying homage to their Oriental origins.

The entrance reeks pure luxury. Light flows through the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the plethora of designer labeled shops, grand historic architecture and rooftop decks. From here, there’s a view of the indoor, half-Olympic length pool, a space with 25 foot high ceilings. Directly above are the four massage rooms, two facial rooms, a six point Vichy shower room and private manicure/ pedicure stations. Behind the blond oak wood reception desk, director Danielle Devaux makes sure that there is no waiting for pre booked appointments. Amazingly all seem to be on time.

The significant 14,000 foot area includes a large fitness centre with a schedule of a variety of exercise techniques from Hatha Yoga to Pilates, from private trainers to state-of-the-art cardiovascular and VR2Cybex weight equipment, which attracts both men and women, guests and local members. The treatments are a marriage of East meeting Midwest with a definite Asian influence. The client base is 60% female and 40% male. After having one of the treatments, the ‘rest area’ with white, comfortable chairs to sink into, is the perfect spot to consider partaking in this lap of luxury before edging back into the busy pace of this bustling city. An array of fruit drinks sits on various counters but it’s the jugs of water filled with floating slices of cucumbers that is so refreshing and original. Each day there are different fruits or veggies that float in the purified water.-slices of apples, oranges etc.

Down a sweeping curved staircase are the changing rooms. No ugly metal here. The blond wood and bamboo floor theme is carried through even to the lockers. Ample counter space in the women’s section allows for the several lotions, potions and hair dryers. Even the shower stalls have small ante-rooms where you can change. Various towels, large and extra large, and mats are draped on the door so as not to be mistaken for used ones. The attendant is omnipresent. Shampoo, conditioners, and soaps are all from the Ready Care product brand.

After changing into a pure white terry and waffle weave lined robe, it’s upstairs again where Cynthia, a woman of ample size and gentle demeanor, leads her client to her room, not like most massage cubicles. Her hands are magic as she feels for tightened muscles and works on my shoulders, back and neck before massaging the scalp. The non-scented massage oil and Zen music are the perfect antidote to any stress. This being early morning, Cynthia asks about the day’s agenda before attacking the hair and head. Not wanting a really bad hair day, she washes the oil off her hands before the ‘dry’ massage.

Next is the 30 minute facial with European born and trained, Elzbieta

The June Jacobs Spa Collection of skin care products are exclusive to The Peninsula Spa. Not only do they smells wonderfully but really do what they promises. The products soothe, repair and revitalize with the finest ingredients, herbs plant extracts and botanicals found around the world. The first application is the wonderfully scented Mandarin Polishing Beads which sweep away dead skin and unplugs clogged pores leaving the skin soft and radiant. After a short massage, this being only a 30 minute facial, she applies the Papaya Purifying Enzyme Masque with its whipped smoothness and delicious aroma. It seems it would be equally heavenly over ice cream. Among the listed facials is The Super Revitalizing Facial with deep cleansing and designed to energize the skin with products that are age fighting with anti-oxidants.

There’s a full Spa Cuisine Menu starting with The Peninsula Spa Breakfast of fresh juices, low fat yogurt, multi grain pancakes, egg white omelet or cold buckwheat noodles with pencil asparagus. Also a Japanese Breakfast is available. Meals later in the day include poached North Atlantic cod, steamed bass, seared sea scallops, grilled turkey paillard and braised tofu with bok choy to mention a few.

Don’t expect conventional manicures and pedicures. Feet and hands are pampered with essential oil soaks and customized clay masks to exfoliate the skin.

Both facial and body treatments were each 30 minutes however, listed are treatments up to 2 hours. However, with the skilled, certified technicians, one doesn’t need hours to accomplish the means to an end.

Some of the ‘menu of services’ include –all in US dollars.

THE SIGNATURE TREATMENTS include the 90 minute Thai Massage with acupressure, stretching, done on an Asian floor mat. $180

The 90 minute Super Revitalizing Facial $180 Half hours is $70
Sanctuary for the Senses is the ultimate for stress relief and last for 2 ½ hours and includes a hot towel wrap.$295
Other notable treatments are European Deep Cleansing Facial $110
Triple layer Vitamin Facial $160,
Warm Japanese Mint Aroma Wrap and De-stress Facial $130

BODY TREATMENTS include Lavender Salt Glow $70
Green Tea Body Therapy $120

Breakfast menu is $27
Main courses start at $17-$29.

Other skin care line available is Jurlique Skin Care from Australia.
For more spa information Phone 312 573 6860