The Peninsula Chicago’s Spa Review - With ESPA, a Partner to Perfection

Faced with an epic winter on an unhospitable planet, Chicagoans have survived by digging out, stocking up and staying put. And with no relief on the horizon, those eager to shed their winter pallor are best off dashing over to the Peninsula Spa for some relief and rejuvenation.    


The Relaxation Room at The Peninsula Spa provides the perfect setting for a stress-free day. The Peninsula Spa has been ranked the #1 Hotel Spa by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler and Best Urban Hotel Spa by the readers of SpaFinder magazine.

What’s so special about The Peninsula Chicago’s Spa? Just about everything. But let’s narrow it down to a top five list, in honor of the hotel’s five star rating:

-          The Rare Air Up There.  The 15,000-square-foot Peninsula Spa is located on the top floors of the five-star Peninsula Chicago, 108 E. Superior St.  Floor-to-ceiling windows flood the space with natural light and offer spectacular views of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. Stay for a spa service, a half-day spa experience, or a full-day spa journey which includes complimentary use of the spa, steam room, relaxation area, fitness facilities, swimming pool, and a Naturally Peninsula spa cuisine lunch complete with signature tea ceremony.  


ESPA products wink through the glass at the Peninsula Chicago Spa (photo by Rachel Greene)

-          From Europe with Love.  The Spa is the only place in Chicago to experience the CACI Ultimate machine, popular in Europe and normally found in medical spas. The computer-aided CACI facial treatment system combines the effects of crystal-free micro-dermabrasion, firming micro-current, lymphatic drainage, LED light therapy and an advanced collagen-based hydrating mask. Results?  Firm and tone skin, fine lines and wrinkles appear smoothed, and tired skin appears rejuvenated.  This non-invasive, pain-free treatment lifts and firms sagging skin and restores immediate radiance.


Bring home the best of the best with offerings of the ESPA line.


-          ESPA’s Lore.  The Peninsula Chicago Spa (along with Peninsula Spas in Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, New York, Shanghai and Tokyo) have partnered to perfection with Britain-based luxury spa company ESPA.  The ESPA product line is both effective and therapeutic, with all products 99 percent free from synthetic color, fragrance and parabens. ESPA’s founder Susan Harmsworth has even been honored by the Queen of England – a sentiment seconded by anyone who has been on the receiving end of an ESPA-developed massage technique or luxurious ESPA product. No wonder ESPA has won 125 awards in the last few years – starting from the ground up with even their factory grounds getting the nod from the eco-org Soil Association.  It bears repeating that ESPA products are free from a laundry list of nasties including synthetic color, fragrance and parabens, phthalates, DEA, TEA, mineral oil, SLS & SLES, silicone, propylene glycol and petrolatum.


ESPA Pro Serum ($85)- combines the exceptional nourishment of a treatment oil with the active benefits of multiple plant extracts to deliver naturally beautiful skin. Enriched with nourishing Omega (3,6 & 9), Vitamins (A & E) and proactive natural extracts Turmeric, White Lupin and Sunflower this advanced formulation helps brighten and even skin tone, enhance elasticity, firm and protect against premature aging.

 -          The Ultimate Lifestage Facial.   With a delectable spa menu of treatments to choose from, the Ultimate Lifestyle Facial is one of the spa’s current crowning achievements.  The 90-minute experience moves at its own pace and rhythm without regard to earthly time. Consider it a spa vortex, with the perfect storm convergence of a deep brush cleanse, skin radiance mask, steam extraction, specialized age-defying and lifting facial massage techniques, and the application of a second mask: ESPA’s Professional Lifting and Smoothing Mask with seaweed extracts, argon oil and menthol.  Special care is taken with the manipulation of facial pressure points, along with deep smoothing, stretching and lifting movements to reduce tension.   The CACI Ultimate machine is also on hand for your facial, for those wanting to supplement their esthetician’s prowess with state-of-the-art European technology.


ESPA Mandarin Lip Balm ($28 )- Nourishing, conditioning lip balm infused with sweet Mandarin. Deeply nourishes lips to leave them soft, smooth and supple.

-          Beyond the immediate gratification of the Ultimate Lifestage Facial, be sure to visit the spectacular line of ESPA Lifestage products that wink and beckon so provocatively from the Spa lobby. Remember to leave with a goody bag for yourself that’s as generous as your purse strings can support.   It’s a great way to extend the in-hotel facial into a year’s worth of at-home treatments.


ESPA Pink Hair and Scalp Mud ($69)- An intensely nourishing dry hair treatment to soothe, smooth and nourish. Using mineral rich red clays, this unique conditioning treatment mud mask leaves hair soft and smooth. Vitamin C-rich watercress and aricot kernel oil soothes and nourishes your scalp, while the red clay stimulates circulation to help boost growth and strengthen and promote healthy, glossy, manageable hair. Perfect for all types especially dry, weak, heat or chemically treated hair.

During a recent visit in milder-weathered times, ESPA founder and beauty globetrotter Susan Harmsworth stopped by the Spa for her visit to Chicago in five years.  She was quick to dispatch some convention-defying advice, including not to start using products too young – it speeds up the aging process.  She also insists that only 2 percent of us need a dermatologist – instead we can rectify many self-induced predicaments by getting more sleep, drinking less caffeine, and spending less time under the all-hours electronic glow of TV and email screens.


Susan Harmsworth MBE, CEO & Founder ESPA International. Susan Harmsworth has been a driving force in the world of international beauty for more than 40 years, starting as a young beauty writer for British Vogue and most recently being honored by the Queen of England as a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition to her life-long service in the spa and beauty industry.

And when it comes to skin care products, Susan is a big fan for going beyond a moisturizer, which is more of a one-trick pony that simply keeps moisture from leaving the skin. Instead, Susan’s team developed a serum/oil combo to feed the skin at a cellular level.  ESPA Optimal ProSerum is new in America, but a top seller in Europe, with enriching vitamins like A & E, as well as Omega 3,6 & 9. The ingredients are so carefully selected, sourced, and naturally fragrant that they deserve a roll-call of their own:


  • Tumeric – to enhance skin radiance, brighten and even skin tone.
  • Rose Hip and Echium Oil – to promote healthy and beautiful looking skin.
  • White Lupin – to powerfully increase elasticity and skin firmness.
  • Kalpariane Seaweed Extract – to lock in vital moisture.
  • Sunflower Seed – to actively strengthen skin and protect.
  • Vitamin E and Evening Primrose Oil – to protect and regenerate skin cells.
  • Balloon Plant – to lovingly calm and comfort.

Visit ESPA Skincare for more information. To schedule an appointment for your perfect spa escape call  312-573-6869 or visit The Peninsula Spa.

PHOTOS AND CAPTIONS by The Peninsula Hotel unless otherwise noted

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