Aspira Spa at The Osthoff Resort sits on the edge of Elkhart Lake in Wisconsin, sacred to the original First Nations tribe of Potawatomi Indians who lived here for more then 10,000 years. The spirits and powers of the lake continue to inspire, nurture and heal the small village of Elkhart Lake, home to a population of 1,000, who embrace their heritage with pride and a deep concern for their neighbors. Lola, L. Roeh, the General Manager of both The Osthoff Resort and the Aspira Spa is a high energy force, not to be taken lightly. She is to be admired as a visionary who followed her passions in creating the property’s Aspira Spa, a soothing sanctuary for the senses that draws on the seasonal organic bounties of the land and the healing powers of Mother Nature.
Aspira means “infused with spirit”, and many of the holistic treatments on the spa menu are rooted in the ancient healing wisdom of indigenous people from this region, and around the world. Several include the gathering, heating and applying of sacred waters drawn from Elkhart Lake. Loving and caring, well trained, hands lead guests on wellness journeys that induce higher levels of relaxation as they nurture, nourish and rejuvenate the body, mind and spirit
Shannon Roeh, Lola’s daughter, manages the spa with the support of a loyal staff; both she and Lola consider extended family. She believes “Aspira’s strength is in our organic approach to the spa experience. We consider this organic philosophy in everything we do, from our product to our environment, and most importantly, our intent and caring approach to our guests”.
After changing into a robe, I enter the round meditation sanctuary. In the center, a waterfall spills over natural stones into a pool. I sink into a cushioned banquet, focusing on the circle of flickering candles that rim the room; this simple ritual brings me into the moment, clearing my mind of distraction.
When it is time for my first treatment, which we have decided will be a combination of two rituals on the spa menu, Mindy leads me to a luxurious spa suite with a fireplace, couch, round soaking tub, shower and massage table. I discard my robe and stretch out for my journey back in time. My Purifying Wild Chamomile and Ancient Cedar Body Treatment begins with a cleansing of my body with a specialized shampoo and a light loofah brushing to prepare my skin for the exfoliating action of the cedar. Throughout history, Indigenous tribes used native cedar and wild herbs to purify, protect and bless. Native cedar, gathered from the property, has been pulverized and mixed with oils into a scrub which is then applied to my body with long smooth strokes. An aromatic blanket of warm cedar is placed on my back for a few minutes which leaves me smelling like the clean scent of cedar. After showering off the residue of the scrub, I climb back on the massage table. for the spa’s signature Chakra Balancing Massage which Mindy combines with a little body aligning Reiki. Although lunch can be served in your private suite, the weather is glorious, and I opt to munch my delicious grilled salmon salad on the spa terrace by one of the pools.
Aspirer’s signature Chrome Lift Facial, based on ancient healing modalities of color therapy, uses light and a cupping tool. Marena my therapist, begins with a thorough cleansing, a light exfoliation … and a few needed extractions. A combination of color chromo therapy, lymphatic drainage, stimulation of my facial reflex points, and a series of natural masks are used .to tone, and uplift the contours of my face, eyes and neck; the visual results are impressive, and I have no doubt the recommended series of treatments would work age-lifting wonders.
I return to the spa the next morning for yet another Aspira signature royal treatment. Rebecca today’s therapist, prepares for my Elderberry Facial which will incorporate the fruits and flower extracts from the elderberry plant into each step .., from the steaming infused with elderberry tea to the exfoliation cream that is a blend of ground dried elderberries … to the mask of chamomile flowers.
At the end of my time with her, she leaves me with a few spa tips to share: “Honor yourself. Be open to new experiences. Let go of the past and of everything else that does not serve a purpose”.
My last treatment is with Lori, a gifted healer who works with Cherokee healing techniques, Reflexology, Reiki and Craniosacral modalities to balance and align one’s body, mind and spirit. Lori begins her days greeting the sun at dawn and gathering waters from the sacred lake which will be used to fulfill the individual needs of each client. She blesses the sacred waters with tobacco in the four directions of the wind before they are gathered into two vessels, and then at the end of the ritual, delivers the used waters back to the lake.
Lori tells me: “I was drawn to the energy of the land and all that Lola has created. Respect for all spaces is a daily practice within the spa and welcoming each guest with a personal ceremony. The success of my vibrational healing work is only complete with opening the heart of a guest to allow a flow of love and light”. To know at day’s end that I have been able to assist just one more person along their way is the gratitude I seek”.
Before leaving, spa director Shannon Roeh shares her thoughts: “Our everyday life becomes so scrambled and hectic that we lose sight of ourselves. We have to remember to stop and take the time to listen to our bodies and give them what they need … whether that be therapeutic relief, nourishment from the foods we put into our bodies, spiritual healing or simply relaxing for a moment. Wellness begins from within.
My only regret is neither having had time to experience the entire spa menu … nor the time to take two of the many classes the spa offers: “The Art of Movement” and “Cultivating Stillness”. Elkhart Lake, The Osthoff Resort and Aspira Spa are on my “not-to-be-missed list” of special places in America.
For More Information: www.aspiraspa.com
Photos by: Manos Angelakis