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Girlfriend Getaways

Whether you decide to experience the natural beauty of the North Shore, the fine dining in Stillwater, or the arts scene in Chicago, we'll tell you where to go and what to do.

Girlfriend Getaways
Photo by Thomas Strand

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Kohler’s Five-Star Spa Experience

let’s just get it out of the way:  the worst part about Kohler is coming back to reality. The moment your massage therapist gives you the tap to let you know it’s time to bring yourself out of your bliss coma on the table; when the valet tucks your bags in the trunk. Parting is such sweet, sweet sorrow. I say that because one should be prepared for that moment at the end of your visit, wherein you’re sent squinting into the harsh light of everyday life.

But before the endings, there are unmissable, unforgettable beginnings and middles. And often, those beginnings and middles in Kohler World are caps to experiences in the Real World: Kohler is the place you go to celebrate finishing a marathon. A 40th birthday. A friendaversary. Or, in my case, having a baby.

A long traverse across Wisconsin’s beer belly lands you square in Kohler village, the company town built just outside Sheboygan near the headquarters of the plumbing and fixture manufacturer. You’ll know you’re there when you see rows of neatly manicured homes, with yards that look as if each blade of grass has been measured with a ruler and stragglers clipped, posthaste, by garden gnomes with tiny pairs of shears.

courtesy of Kohler Co.

As the mother of a five-month-old, I absolutely luxuriated in my first introduction to the American Club—it’s the only five-star resort in the Midwest and is owned by the Kohler Company—when the punctilious doorman and receptionist traded me my many bags for a mimosa. What a life! After a jaunt to eat pork-belly buffalo “wings” and an overstuffed Reuben at the hotel’s pub, the Horse & Plow, I came back to discover the staff had worked their magic in my absence, performing turndown service. Someone had cleaned up after ME. Why, I had so much time on my hands, I decided to take a bath. (When in Rome, right?) Sinking into the deepest tub I’ve laid eyes on, I watched as the water poured from a ceiling fixture and the tub lit itself up in calming tones, and immediately felt my shoulder blades relax down about four feet.

This Kohler brand of preciseness is what makes the place a priceless respite from the rest of the messy world. It allows you to stay in the moment, appreciating all the details you missed as you hurried through life B.K. (Before Kohler). When I dined in the hotel’s Wisconsin Room, the electric-yellow yolks of my eggs Benedict flowed across my plate like a sunrise; flower blossoms exploded with vibrant pinks and purples in the gorgeous garden outside the windows.

Then on to the resort’s spa, where I experienced the new Citrus Reviver, a Vichy shower treatment that includes a full-body exfoliation, done with frozen mitts and cold stones as hot water pours over you, and a lotion massage. It fired all my senses (and even confused them a little), but I left feeling relaxed and refreshed. With access to the spa’s waterfall pool, whirlpool, cold-plunge pool, and sauna, I could have spent the rest of the day lounging. Truly, a total reboot from the last five months of raising my first child—a joyous, but decidedly non-luxurious, experience.

Don't Miss!

The best part of Kohler is not being on a schedule. That said, there are a few highlights to consider (details at americanclubresort.com):

Yoga on the Lake

Sun salute while looking toward Wood Lake in this 1,400-square-foot, heated-floor yoga studio. Drop-ins welcome.

Craverie Chocolatier Café

The café serves sandwiches, soups, and smoothies, but be sure to save room for dessert. Led by chocolatier Anette Righi DeFendi, the Craverie’s candy cases are full of beautiful (many are hand-painted) and delicious sweets. The Terrapins (turtles) are their signature candy, but don’t miss the Rare Gems, chocolates paired with powerful fruit flavors such as pomegranate, sour cherry, and orange-ginger.


Kohler’s four public courses are among the few that the pros also play—a golfer’s bucket-list dream destination.


This art-deco industrial building gives home-décor enthusiasts a peek into the nation’s largest plumbing-ware manufacturer’s foundry and kilns. The three-hour tour shows visitors how everything from glass sinks to cast-iron tubs is made. Closed-toe shoes required—you’ll get safety glasses at the door.

Kohler Design Center

This three-level display of Kohler products past and present can be a little overwhelming, but infinitely inspiring. And don’t miss the nearby Ann Sacks show room where you’ll find stylish tile to go with all those Kohler fixtures (annsacks.com).

Hydrotherapy Hot Spot

Glacial waters at Grandview Lodge on Gull Lake is a spa in the classic sense: arrive an hour before your appointment to take a sauna or steam; indulge in hydrotherapy services such as the Thermal Waters soak with a customized blend of essential oils, or the Glacial Rain, which includes a Vichy shower to open up your chakras. Or maybe it’s something more exotic, like a four-handed or ashiatsu massage, or a Hungarian herbal mud wrap. You can’t go wrong. You can only go limp. • grandviewlodge.com

Urban Retreat

The spa in this posh, downtown Minneapolis hotel offers full-body treatments such as the Tropicale: saltmousse, a pineapple wrap, and body balm, plus an 80-minute lomi lomi massage, for starters. Remember to bring workout gear (if that’s your thing) and your swimsuit to take advantage of the gym and sauna/whirlpool facilities, too. • ivyspaclub.com

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