March 17, 2008
A work in progress
I've been to the Aspira twice now, once a year for a girlfriends spa weekend. Note: we go in March/April so the hotel & spa are not very crowded. From the photos I've seen, this place is hopping in the summer which might change the experience quite a bit.
Scheduling is difficult, not everyone knows what they are talking about, and it can be hard to get the appointments you want (all due to inexperience or indifference I fear), but once you are there, the experience is great.
The massage therapist know what they are doing and are incredibly helpful and knowledgeable. I had my first "energy treatment" this year and was blown away by therapist Jennifer; it was kind of odd, but opened up a whole realm of possibilities that these treatments could be more than just relaxing. Highly recommended, and I'd ask for Jennifer because I think it's the kind of thing where experience is important. (It's extremely esoteric, but worth investigating.)
The scalp treatment is a must, as is the Hamman (my friend has had this twice). They have added, I am told, a customized massage which will broaden their offerings; currently most of them are relaxing, pampering as opposed to theraputic. (I had the Ying Yang on Friday and the Four Palms on Saturday. On Sunday Ray Lynn, who did my scalp treatment which included some neck and shoulder massage noted the obvious knots in my upper back which clearly hadn't been noticed by the three massage therapists who had worked on me during the weekend. A clinical or swedish massage probably would have remedied this, but I couldn't fathom ordering up yet another massage! I just thought someone should have mentioned it earlier.)
The spa areas are very nice. Plenty of places to relax and unwind. They need to do a better job when the spa is quiet of making sure everyone is using their "spa voices" and not intruding on the peace and quiet enjoyed by the most of the people there. They lack a steam room, aromatherapy room, or swimming pool attached to the spa. I used to go to the Fontana Spa at the Abbey in Lake Geneva which has a fabulous spa set-up with more room and amenities in their spa, but it's not as nice and new as Aspira. Outside of the spa, enclosed with more lounging chairs is another whirlpool. Last year they turned it on for us in April. Absolutely fabulous experience. We ordered some snacks, sat in the steamy water while the air temps were in the 40s I'd imagine. Definitely a cool experience. (This year they wouldn't put it on for us.)
Spa hours are a sticking point. They are not really set in stone and everyone I spoke with had a different answer as to when the spa was closing for the evening. After a treatment, I just want to veg out and relax which is not always possible when you are worrying that you are holding up the staff.
There is a wonderful little restaurant attached to the spa (dine in your robe) which is nice but under utilized. Food was good, service good.
It's kind of unfortunate that I have anything bad to say about the Aspira because I had a great time. If their staff was more experienced, chances are everyone would know what a fabulous place this was and it'd be impossible to get appointments....thus killing our spa expereince. But I guess you take the good with the bad. It's unpretentious in attitude, relaxed, in kind of a clueless way....maybe it's just Wisconsin?!
The Osthoff itself is amazing, a one of a kind hotel, well worth the visit itself. Elkhart Lake is quaint. Very picturesque. It's very quiet and very relaxing all around. (Be forewarned that the vacant hallways in the winter months can remind one of "The Shining"....eerily reminiscent actually.)