Recently, I had the good fortune to visit The Heartland Spa and Fitness Resort in Gilman, IL, a destination spa-hotel 90 miles south of Chicago. My ‘old’ friend, Ilene Weber, flew in from Boston to join me when I mentioned that I had been hearing great recommendations about The Heartland. But we fussy ladies wanted to personally discover if the Spa, a former dairy farm, lived up to its reputation- with its various exercise and fitness classes, spa massages and facials, special events, food, staff and overall ambiance.
I loved the Heartland’s approach where everyone is casually dressed. Actually, the staff dresses each of the 32 guests the whole time you are there. Each day, clean shorts, pants, t-shirts and sweat shirts are placed in front of your room or on your bed. I literally packed some make-up (necessary so I wouldn’t scare anybody at mealtime), tooth- brush and paste, and changes of underwear. Ok, we admit we took our own hair products, too. We didn’t even need those heavy overnight bags if we didn’t want to carry them. And I mustn’t forget the “Robes” which somehow made us feel comfy and completely at home. I do believe that is the general attitude the Spa accentuates.
From the welcoming reception area, we were escorted to our room – which was beyond fabulous as it was the best of the best rooms! Two beds, chairs, a picture-perfect view of the lake, and a Victorian overall feeling made us feel right at home. There was plenty of room in the updated bathroom to place our meager makeup and toothbrushes, too.
Mealtime is a communal affair. Each guest initially wears a name tag label. Everyone was friendly and we actually met several people whom we plan to meet later on. I like the idea of rotating tables and meeting new people from all walks of life. Some people were retired, some in college, some had busy careers – and I was delighted to see several men enjoying themselves amongst the majority of women. Most people arrived as families or twosomes; some also came solo.
The total calorie count was 1,500 for all three meals and two snacks served daily. Ilene, who’s a dedicated eater, actually found she didn’t need that extra sweet dessert she often talked about. The food was excellent, colorful with hues of orange/red/green in the vegetables, and creative with herbs that gave exotic flavoring to chicken and salmon dishes, especially.
The Spa areas are a major draw here at The Heartland. What’s not to like about a calming massage with mystical music in the background? One massage is included in the 2-night package; the 3-night package comes with a facial and a buff and butter service; the 5-night package includes two 40-minute massages and a Heartland facial. I also opted for another extra - The Heartland’s Signature Botanical Bliss, which combined a sea salt body scrub with a Botanical mud wrap. After that I was as clean (and smooth) as a whistle, and I felt like a million dollars.
I found the ambiance at The Heartland Spa comfortable and comforting. This is not a jet-setters spa with multi-billion dollar equipment and fancy, formally dressed men and women. Whether you’re a guest for one night or seven, you are surrounded with warmth and acceptance. And what could be better than that… And a big thank you to The Heartland Spa staff who sponsored our spectacular 2-night weekend stay. You did a great job, as we enjoyed ourselves immensely.
This is far enough away from the big city to be relaxing, but not too far to be accessible. It is a wonderful get-away that is renewing and I highly recommend it.
The Heartland Spa & Fitness Resort is at 1237 E 1600 North Rd, Gilman, Illinois 60938. Phone number is 800-545-4853 www.heartlandspa.com
Photos: Courtesy of Heartland Spa & Fitness Resort