Sunday, March 6, 2011

WWD Chicago -Womens Wear Daily- Worldwide Media February 20th 2004, Page 8. Chicago Strikes Gold With New Spa by Kristen Larson

Chicago-situated in a 20s era building once owned by L Capone, there is nothing disquieting about the newly open salon duo spot and Chicago's Tony Gold coast neighborhood

With windows facing Lake Michigan, the view from the Spa, located on 1400 N. Lakeshore Dr., looks just as peaceful as the soothing treatments and atmosphere found inside. And that's just the idea, noted Emilio Rivera, the Spanish born owner who designed the 1100 square-foot Spa with the idea of creating a relaxing vibe for the guests even for they are professionally relaxed, cleaned and buffed. Rivera, who often sports Prada Suits and Gucci loafers, is co-owner with Scott Wilker, former art director.

Rivera said too many spas today feel corporate, and he wanted to really move away from them." It's about feeling like you're going to your best friend's home for the day and you feel relaxed once he arrived. Relaxation starts from the inside out, so setting a mood as soon as customers walk in the door is important," said Rivera, 35, whose inspiration for the decor came from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel spa in Paris in the American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin.

To fashion a cozy spa environment, the walls are painted a cheery lemon; personal details like oil printed pillows, chandeliers, a built-in pedicure station with an overstuffed couch, fresh flowers, calming music and scented candles are featured too. The spas adjacent to the 3200 square-foot salon, which opened almost 3 years ago. The decor here is complementary with floral couches, French antiques and fabulous artwork.

" When we opened the salon, there was such a huge demand for the spa, we wanted to make the treatment rooms as calming and relaxing as possible," Rivera said." I like the elegant places that aren't stuffy."

There are three treatment rooms for facials and massages, and each of the rooms' ceilings are draped in white sheer panels for a soft, peaceful effect.

The spa specializes in seasonal treatments, such as the pumpkin revitalizing body treatment and pumpkin facial for colder months, and eggnog facial for the holiday season, and the strawberry-raspberry champagne pedicure for Valentine's Day. A popular treatment is the personal touch spray tan, made from sugarcane. The spa uses French Matus products, as well as the herbal-based line Dr. Schwab. The spies retail area sells the Matus and Dr. Schwab products in addition to a large selection of Illume candles. Retail sales account for about 35% of the business, and services make up the remaining 65%. Prices range from $80 to $200 for facials; $95 for body treatments; $40 for half-hour massage up-to $210 for 90 minute massage, and $50 for airbrush tanning. Manicures and pedicures start from $22 and $42 respectively.

For customers on the run, treatments can be doubled up to save time, such as facial and massage ensemble or a facial with manicure and pedicure.

There are five aestheticians, each of whom have a minimum of 20 years experience-something Rivera said is important in order to deliver the best customer service.

" My aestheticians are well traveled and they go to France to learn the latest techniques," he said. "The service is very much focused on a person-to-person."

Standard offerings while at the spot include daily homemade cookies and desserts, cappuccino, champagne and wine. But for customers who are a bit more demanding, the spa can have lunch delivered; smoked salmon with crème fraîche and capers from the claimed Ambria in the Belden Stratford Residents Hotel isn't a problem.

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