Archive for the ‘Spas’ Category

Last gasp of summer vacations within four hours of Chicago

 

Before becoming engulfed in everything fall from cool nights to school schedules, take a few days for one last summer break. Within four hours of Chicago there are restaurants and resorts with lake-side views, good spas and shopping, plus scenic boating and biking choices.

Gaze out from Peninsula State Park after hiking, biking or taking a trolley ride there. Photos by Jodie Jacobs

Gaze out from Peninsula State Park after hiking, biking or taking a trolley ride there. Photos by Jodie Jacobs

 

Door County, WI

About 3.5 hours north of Chicago is a finger-like peninsula that sticks so far out into Green Bay on one side and Lake Michigan on the other that there are almost too many scenic views for one trip.

The Door, as visitors and residents call it, begins halfway up in the fleshier part of the finger but the vacation destination begins at the Sturgeon Bay knuckle and continues  up the finger to Gills Rock. Some folks even cross the choppy waters north by ferry to Washington Island, an interesting day trip when time allows.

To make the most of your vacation, first nail down where to stay. The sailing, hiking, biking and the Door’s specialties of art gallery hopping and lighthouse touring can wait. But accommodations fill quickly.

Before deciding, you should know that the Lake Michigan side is known as the “quiet side” because the small towns are nestled further apart among the forests. The Green Bay side is dotted with small bustling villages, restaurants, shops and inns.

But it doesn’t take long to cross The Door’s farmland in between so neither side is a bad choice. Both sides have state parks.

To stay amid the action, look at places on the Bay side from Fish Creek to Ephraim to Sister Bay. For quiet side accommodations, look at Baileys Harbor.

The best way to find lodging is to go to Door County, click Availability or Stay. If still not sure call the bureau at 800-527-3529 because they are very helpful.

“One of our primary things to do is help people find a place to stay,” said Communications Director Jon Jarosh.

The web site lists lots of activities but if you want a map and brochures stop at the Visitors Bureau after where WI Highways 57 and 42 connect at 1015 Green Bay Rd. on the south end of Sturgeon Bay.

 

Galena, IL

Downtown Galena is a historic and yummy place to be.

Downtown Galena is a historic and yummy place to be.

 

Tucked into the northwest corner of Illinois about three hours from Chicago are the scenic rolling hills of the Galena Territory and the historic town of Galena, home to Ulysses S. Grant with tie-ins to Abraham Lincoln.

Indeed more than 80 percent of Galena has historic district designations.

But a trip here isn’t just about going back in time. Situated on the Galena River and near the Mississippi, it’s a picturesque river-town edged with steep, photo-op streets.

Shopping its main street is delicious because there are wine-tasting places and yummy ice cream and candy shops.

Nearby, are the stage coach trail, fort and scenic vistas of Galena’s Jo Davies County. There is usually balloon or Wine or other festival taking place in the area.

Accommodations here range from charming B&Bs and inns to resorts.

If interested in combining golf, spa treatment or hiking, a good place to stay is the Eagle Ridge Resort on the outskirts of town at  444 Eagle Ridge Drive, Galena and at (800) 892-2269.

If interested in a Labor Day Weekend stay check out its special events and guest rate package.

To learn more about the area and find other lodging choices visit Galena.

 

Lake Geneva, WI  

Boats pull up at piers around Geneva Lake.

Boats pull up at piers around Geneva Lake.

 

Closer to Chicago is the town and lake where some of the city’s elite used to vacation and where some urbanites still have homes and cottages. It’s Lake Geneva on Geneva Lake and the small towns nearby.

From Chicago’s northern suburbs, the drive is about 1.5 hours but don’t try to make it faster than the posted speed limit. Some of the small towns along the route add to their coffers with speeding tickets.

However, Lake Geneva is an easy, fun getaway for folks who like to hike, bike, golf or enjoy water sports.

A great way to hear about the estates around the lake is to take the mail boat which pauses, sort-of, at some piers for postal deliveries.

Because the Lake Geneva area has been a vacation destination since before the turn of the last century, there are lots of lodging choices from contemporary to vintage and from resorts and B&Bs to inns and condos. To fit in golf or a spa treatment, consider the Grand Geneva outside of town.

For accommodation availability visit Lake Geneva and enter your arrival and departure dates.

 

So, instead of looking at the calendar with dismay that summer is just about gone, fit in a getaway. You deserve it.

 

 

 

Three spas that will help you manage the holidays

Thanksgiving is just the beginning of our annual holiday binge days

Thanksgiving is just the beginning of our annual holiday binge days

Of course the holidays practically shove yummy temptations in your face so what is a fun, food and party-loving person to do to not gain what feels like 100 pounds between Thanksgiving and January 2?

Well, aside from either feeling deprived when out or staying home, there are ways to curb the appetite such as eat a favorite raw fruit or protein snack before heading out the door.

However, another choice is to move your annual January SOS trips to fitness centers up a month or two to November or December.

But instead of merely thinking local work-out place, take it to the next level. Seek out a spa that does more than massages and facials. You need one that also has a nutritionist on staff and trainers or work-out gurus whom you can consult.

No Junk Food? Will I survive? A couple of days later the answer was a resounding yes!

No Junk Food? Will I survive? A couple of days later the answer was a resounding yes!

You may have a good place near you. But you have a better chance of listening and following nutrition and workout advice when away from home and away from familiar temptations and distractions

Here are three spas with very different atmospheres. Each of them is worth traveling to any time of year but they all take nutrition and individually tailored workouts, seriously.

Heartland Spa

The most casual of the three spas,  even  likened to an away camp, is The Heartland, about 90 minutes south of Chicago in Gilman, Ill.

Leave the designer clothes at home when coming here. You don’t even have to worry about bringing fresh workout clothes. Shorts, Ts, baggy sweats (top and bottom) are handed out upon arrival and replaced when left outside the room’s door after wearing.

A highly lauded destination spa since the mid1980’s, Heartland covers a range of healthy body and mind issues from lifestyle discussions and fitness classes to body assessments and diet consultations.

Inspiring messages accompanied healthy snacks.

Inspiring messages accompanied healthy snacks.

Situated on a former dairy farm, the spa is small so guests tend to get to know each other, particularly because they gather in the small dining room at the same time. Healthy snacks were always available in an inspiration-filled hallway.

Everyone gets the same meal unless there is a dietary restriction. However during a recent visit, lunch was a delicious Italian roasted chicken breast on top of roasted vegetables topped with golden melted mozzarella. Dinner was tomato lentil soup, a yummy grilled chili salmon with sweet pepper salsa, garlic mashed potatoes, delicate asparagus and a three berry crepe for desert.

Calories and fat content are listed on the side. Meals and snacks each day are vegetarian with an add-on of chicken or fish totaling 1400 calories for women and 1500 for men. Activities here are mostly in the spa’s facilities with a few hikes along the farm roads.

Lake Austin Spa

About 35 minutes from downtown Austin, Texas, Lake Austin Spa Resort was named the Number One Destination Spa in the United States in Conde Nast Traveler’s poll in 2010 and 2011.

Dress is whatever guests want to wear. Activities are on the resort’s 19 acre property but with additional choices along the lake and on the lake.

Meals are nutritious and offer several options that often include burgers, salmon, pork loin and sea scallops. Diners can eat alone or at a communal table. Calories and fat grams are listed but choices are up to the guests.

Nutritionist Terry Shaw will work with guests to design meal plans and holiday eating approaches to take home.

Miraval

Desert, mountains, accommodations and philosophy make MiravaL a retreat

Desert, mountains, accommodations and philosophy make MiravaL a retreat

Spread across a desert landscape outside Tuscon, Ariz., Miraval is the SpaFinder Magazine Crystal Award winner for 2011. The spa ranked fourth in Travel + Leisure Magazine’s 2011 World’s Best List.

However, it is Miraval’s understanding of healthy eating, the right workout program and mind-body connections that makes the spa a popular destination.

The spa reflects the philosophy of Integrative Health and Healing Director Dr. Andrew Weil.

Dinner is sit-down but lunch is an attractive buffet with calorie and carbs listed. Guests can also have lunch with a registered dietician.

The spa’s desert location and meditation areas give Miraval a retreat atmosphere. Guests are comfortable wandering the grounds in robes or workout clothes.

Photos by Jodie Jacobs

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