When “The world is too much with us… late and soon, as English poet William Wordsworth said with a poem that continues with “we are out of tune” you know it is time to take a break.
A good place to get back in tune is to plan a girls’ getaway where the view out the balcony door stretches across water and hills, where stress is forgotten over cocktails and delicious food and tension is massaged away by experienced hands.
My sister and I found such a place when we chose Grand Geneva Resort and Spa in Lake Geneva, WI for our annual spa getaway.
This year, my sister flew into O’Hare from Dallas so we could drive from my home in a northern suburb of Chicago. It took about an hour which is the same amount of time for someone flying into Milwaukee’s airport.
The resort is just on the eastern outskirts of Lake Geneva so we first parked downtown for a bit of boutique shopping then headed to the Grand Geneva to unpack and unwind. FYI, the lake is called Geneva Lake and the town is Lake Geneva.
The resort has lots of accommodation options ranging from deluxe rooms and suites to condos. We loved our deluxe double on the third floor of Building 3 with a view of a lake on the property.
BTW Grand Geneva has 1,300 acres that include ski hills in winter turned into an adventure spot in summer, golf, horseback riding and plenty of paths to hike and bike.
I liked the lap pool in the spa and fitness facility across the lane from our building. My sister liked the fitness center where she could work out with the type of equipment she used back home.
While waiting for our spa services in the women’s locker room, we heard happy chatter from girlfriends enjoying the spa’s whirlpool. Another waiting area open to males and females, was a quiet relaxation space with good fruit juice, crackers and cheeses.
We booked massages for one day and mani-pedi services, the next. Definitely recommend both.
The resort had two top notch dinner restaurants, the Geneva Chop House and Ristorante Brissago. Both have good food and good service. The night we ate at the resort we were in the mood for Italian flavors and loved our choices of a pumpkin bisque, Osso Bucco and eggplant parmigiano.
The resort’s Sunday morning brunch in its Grand Café was tempting but after a weekend of eating we ordered light breakfasts from the menu.
We left on Sunday but heard there was a shuttle that went into Lake Geneva on Monday for a tour of the town that included lunch. Maybe will do it next time.
I’m thinking the resort would be a good place to visit next Valentine’s Day or birthday or anniversary or Mother’s Day.
But regarding our experience, best of all was that everyone at Grand Geneva seemed to really care about the guests.
When needing some getaway time check in at the newly remodeled Marriott Lincolnshire. The resort’s 25 million dollar re-do has the excellent Spa at Lincolnshire, the really good Three Embers restaurant for breakfast and dinner, a nice, casual Wrights Brew& Bistro for lunch or dinner and a convenient Starbucks Café off the Lobby.
BTW, Three Embers replaced The Wharf with a fine menu of locally sourced dishes and a redesigned space that includes a wood-burning grill and a chef’s table. The butter has a wonderful, honey flavor from the chef’s on-site beehive and the pastry’s chef’s yummy rolls to spread it on.
Pack a swim suit to for a dip in the pool or hot tub. The pool entrance is nicely positioned near the rooms’ hallways and elevators so guests don’t have to walk by the lobby.
Don’t forget workout clothes for the redone fitness center or some laps around the resort. Rooms typically have a lake or golf course view.
If interested in good musical theatre and time allows, get tickets for the resort’s famed Marriott Theatre. Currently, “Ragtime,” is playing through March 18. Next is Oklahoma April 11-June 10, 2018, which celebrates the legendary musical’s 75th anniversary.
The theatre is connected to the resort on the main and second levels so it won’t be necessary to brave whatever nature is serving up outdoors.
Now, pick a date to escape. There are special deals for theatre, romance, spa and restaurants.
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.
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.
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
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.
Instead of trying to lose weight and feel better after the holidays arm yourself with expert advice and a wellness plan at a destination spa
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.