The best relaxing Midwestern resorts and hotels for a winter getaway.
The Abbey Resort, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Distance 77 miles Travel time 2 hours Don’t miss The avani massage
The Abbey manages to keep wintertime business bustling with its pampering Fontana spa offerings—facials, massages, body wraps and a full salon (nails and hair).
The resort has been right on the Lake Geneva marina for over 50 years and features recently renovated rooms and bathrooms as well as large, comfy beds. But here, the spa’s the thing—at 35,000 square feet, it includes separate women’s and men’s locker and relaxation areas; each wing also has a dry sauna, a quiet room and hot tub, and opens out onto a large, heated, enclosed glass atrium replete with plants and sunlight.
This coed “main” area offers lap swimming, another dry sauna and hot tub, and a bar that serves snacks and drinks. Standout spa services include the relaxing avani massage ($120, 50 minutes) and hot-stone massages ($195, 75 minutes), body coffee wrap ($120, 50 minutes) and the purifying facial ($175, 75 minutes). Therapists and aestheticians are friendly and attentive, and the spa facilities are undergoing a renovation that will be complete in January of 2014 (spa will remain open).
Distance 175 miles Travel time 3 hours Don’t miss The Mystic Sage Stone Ritual
Rocking chairs, a fireplace and a guitarist strumming soothing music await at Eagle Ridge, a sprawling 6,800-acre property that grew from golf resort to pampering paradise with the addition of a 6,000-square-foot spa four years ago. At the Stonedrift Spa, change into a supersoft robe and slippers and head to the relaxation room, outfitted with a fireplace, armchairs and an array of muffins, cookies, fruit and cheese.
In between stuffing your face with the free feast, indulge in the spa’s newest treatment, the Mystic Sage Stone Ritual ($170, 80 minutes). You’ll be rubbed with organic peppermint (uplifting) and lavender (relaxing), which will soothe your muscles and ready you for a hot-stone massage (included in the ritual). Warm oils will instantly pacify you; then your therapist will rub you with hot stones, promoting a deep meditative state.
Afterward, return to your cozy room outfitted with cable TV, a king-size bed, huge windows and plush terry-cloth robes. Later, you can explore the resort, which offers ice skating, sledding, skiing, swimming in the indoor pool, hiking and ice fishing. You don’t even need to leave Eagle Ridge for dinner: Dig into great steaks and local produce at its Woodlands Restaurant & Lounge.
In Galena (about a ten-minute drive from the resort), continue to unwind by sampling housemade jams at Galena Canning Company (106 S Main St, 815-777-2882). If you’re not too chilly, share a sundae at American Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor (102 N Main St, 815-777-3121) and do some non–chain shopping on Main Street.
Distance 145 miles Travel time 2 hours, 45 minutes Don’t miss An enclosed rooftop lounge offers coed hot-tubbing
Kohler Waters Spa, Burr Ridge, Illinois
Distance 20 miles Travel time 26 minutes Don’t miss Circle of Tranquility (self-guided water rituals)
When you hear the word Kohler, you’re more apt to think of ritzy bathroom fixtures than decadent spa treatments. But the same 140-year-old company that makes toilets and bathtubs beautiful brought a similar gusto to the hospitality world when it converted the plumbing company’s old employee dorms into a full-service hotel and—later—the Kohler Waters Spa.
Come prepared to relax 24/7, because the spa experience begins right in your room. Whether you’re “slumming” it in the lower-price point American Club ($219/night) or living large in an expensive Immersion Suite in the Carriage House (with perks like a mini-bar, sitting area and signature bath products from Kohler Waters Spa; $368/night), every room comes with a company-made whirlpool and shower, pimped out with bells and whistles like colored lights, multiple nozzles and built-in benches.
Downstairs in the spa, dozens of services await. Try the popular Great Lakes stone massage ($153, 50 minutes), in which hot stones coated in aromatic massage oil melt away muscle tension and knots. Or book the Vichy shower–equipped wet room for a relaxing Acoustic Bath ($100, 50 minutes), a full-body exfoliation and bathing ritual with sound and music vibrations.
Beyond the spa, there’s plenty more on tap—cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and skeet shooting and dog sledding. Foodies should hit the jacket-required Immigrant Restaurant for a blow-your-wad, out-of-this-world five-course dinner (about $85), with specialties such as a duo of Berkshire pork and a chilled carrot and coconut curry soup. Frugal folks can get a taste of the high life by sampling a cheese flight and vino in the attached Winery Bar. For lunch, snag a table by the fire and dig into a bowl of chili at the charmingly rustic River Wildlife, a members-only club nestled in the nearby woods (hotel guests can purchase an entry pass).
After a blissful weekend filled with equal parts eating, playing outside and spa-ing, you won’t be surprised to hear that Kohler is ranked as a Forbes Five-Star Resort Hotel and the Midwest's only AAA Five Diamond Resort. We have three words for you: Book it now.
775 Village Center Drive, Burr Ridge, IL, 630-323-7674, americanclubresort.com; packages start at $363—Liz Plosser
Grand Geneva Resort, Geneva, Wisconsin
Distance 80 miles Travel time 1½ hours Don’t miss The frequent wildlife sightings (deer, owls, etc.)
Even frozen and gray, the hilly landscape and barren trees at Grand Geneva hold a stark winter beauty. And the resort’s got plenty to keep you busy, including 18 downhill ski slopes, a terrain snowboard park and five miles of trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
But if you’d rather not freeze your butt off, opt for a quick dash from the lodges to the warmth of Well Spa, where you can spend time in the Himalayan salt whirlpool between pricey but posh treatments. Two to try; the nature's embrace body wrap ($185, 80 minutes), during which your body will experience a dry brush exfoliation and then slathered with skin-softening moisturizer under a warmed blanket; and the Well Spa facial ($115, 50 minutes), where a combination of exfoliants and masks are customized with essential oils to target your skin’s needs.
Continue cocooning by cozying up in your suite (which has a gas fireplace and private patio) and opting for room service from Ristorante Brissago—order something warm and hearty like Pappardelle con Pollo (grilled chicken with artichoke and sundried tomato, $26). It’s just the thing to munch on in your bathrobe.
7036 Grand Geneva Way, 800-558-3417, grandgeneva.com; $99/night —Judy Sutton Taylor
More to explore
Pheasant Run Resort & Spa Just an hour outside of Chicago, Pheasant Run offers a multitude of spa treatments, from massages to body wraps, at Spa Vargas Wellness. Plus, check out Zanies Comedy Club and six restaurants and lounges, all at the resort. 4051 E Main St, St. Charles (800-474-3272, pheasantrun.com). $89/night.
Lakelawn Resort The Calladora Pick Me Up massage and Dr. Spiller's Signature Silk facial (protects skin against factors that accelerate aging) are some of the standouts to look forward to when the spa at this resort, located just a few miles west of Lake Geneva, reopens in spring. In the mean time, take advantage of the indoor pool, outdoor ice fishing and sledding hills. 2400 E Geneva St, Delavan, WI (800-338-5253, lakelawnresort.com). $89/night.
French Lick Resort Casino Yes, it’s a casino hotel. But there’s more in the cards here. The spa is a 27,000-square-foot haven of relaxation, complete with 24 treatment rooms, mineral baths and a massive fitness center. 8670 W State Rd 56, French Lick, IN (812-936-9300, frenchlick.com). $99/night. —Danielle Braff