At Ease: The Great Twin Cities Spa Guide 2009

We’ve been waxed, sculpted, softened, and primped (life is <em>hard</em>) in order to bring you this essential bit of knowledge: You don’t have to venture far to escape. We’ve rounded up the most innovative and undeniably relaxing day spas to put you on the path to bliss. How you get there—<em>fanny facial, anyone?</em>—is up to you.

Ivy Spa Club

201 11th St. S.

Escape for a day (or two) to this high-style hotel spa, where a fitness center, steam room, and organic cuisine make it a destination—even for downtown dwellers.

Great For:
romantic couple’s retreats, or invigorating body treatments that incorporate natural ingredients like avocado, ginger, or pine.

Top Service:
The decadent Diamond Radiance Facial firms, tones, and brightens skin for a red-carpet-ready glow that lasts for days ($200).

ReVamp! Salonspa

2910 Hennepin Ave. S.

Baby boomers from across the country come to Christopher “The Makeover Guy” Hopkins’s Uptown salon for head-to-toe transformations.

Great For:
group spa parties, if you’re not in the market for a mid-life makeover.

Top Service:
The Oprah Makeover includes a haircut and color, eyebrow shaping, makeup application and lesson, and silhouette analysis to determine the most flattering clothing styles for your body ($300).


4279 Sheridan Ave.

Exclusive product lines, innovative treatments (like a facial for, yes, your fanny), and sought-after stylists make this a top spot for the Cities’ well-heeled.

Great For:
eyelash perms and eyelash extensions.

Top Service:
A step-by-step eyebrow-shaping session with owner Leah Simon-Clark or one of her staffers will transform your face ($30 and up).

Five Two Six

526 Selby Ave.
St. Paul

This Cathedral Hill salon, spa, and gallery is a hotbed of contemporary local art and a hot spot for the neighborhood’s fashion-forward beauty buffs.

Great For:
unwinding with a hot stone massage after hitting the shops on Grand Avenue.

Top Service:
the spa’s targeted, 20-minute MicroZone Treatments for a quick beauty fix (banish that breakout before a big night out) or facial in a flash ($25).

Bella on the Bay

474 Second St.

In the warm and cozy confines of this renovated historic home in downtown Excelsior, you’ll never have to say you’re sorry for napping post-treatment in the serene relaxation room.

Great For:
releasing stress and muscle tension with a Vichy hydrotherapy massage, in which seven shower sprays are applied to your chakras.

Top Service:
The signature Belladone body-contouring treatment promises to shape figures and burn fat using massage and caffeine-enriched moisturizers ($125).

Denny Kemp Salon Spa

605 Central Ave. NE

A popular destination for well-groomed urbanites who appreciate Kemp’s scissor skills and modern art collection, which adorns his namesake salon-spa.

Great For: those looking for cool cuts and colors, and a short list of spa services, in a super-sleek setting.

Top Service: The Shu Uemura Art of Hair Ceremony, a traditional shiatsu-inspired scalp massage using custom-blended oils ($50 and up).

Solimar Wellness Spa

1121 Town Centre Dr.

Its generic, suburban office-park location belies this spa’s inviting interior and progressive service menu.

Great For:
curling up by the fire with a cup of tea after one of the spa’s myriad massages—whether its Reiki or reflexology, couples or cranio-sacral.

Top Service:
The Body and Soak Journey, which begins with a relaxing massage and ends with a soothing soak in a therapeutic hydrotherapy tub ($143).

Spalon Montage

Three metro locations: Edina, Chanhassen, and Woodbury

Spalon devotees keep coming back to this posh place for the customer service, seasoned staff, and head-to-toe beauty offerings.

Great For:
the whole family. From kid’s haircuts to mom’s manicure to dad’s “back attack” treatment, there’s something for everyone at this spa.

Top Service:
The all-inclusive Perfect Facial starts with a stress-relieving back treatment before addressing dehydration, fine lines, and wrinkles ($170).


Sunbear Spa

2207 Third St.
White Bear Lake

This luxe medi-spa in an expansive renovated theater near White Bear Lake makes an idyllic setting for a girls’ getaway or personal pampering.

Great For:
organic facials as well as more serious skincare, including photofacials, peels, and microdermabrasion.

Top Service:
Prepare for your big day with a bridal beauty plan, customized for you by a special events coordinator. (Price varies.)

The Refinery

321 SE 14th Ave.

Coeds and grownups in the know flock to this unfussy Dinkytown institution, where three floors are dedicated to salon and spa services.

Great For:
repeat relaxation. Purchase packages of six Swedish, Thai, shiatsu, or hot stone massages at deeply discounted rates.

Top Service:
The 15-minute, no-nonsense Brazilian waxes are legendary. Notice we didn’t say painless ($30).

Spot Spa

401 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, 612-331-4182
1600 W. Lake St.
Minneapolis, 612-823-7768

The emphasis is on well-being—not bells and whistles—at this intimate spa, an oasis from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Great For:
gentle but effective holistic facials, and exotic bodywork like Ashiatsu, an adaptation of an ancient form of barefoot massage.

Top Service:
The customized Spot massage combines deep tissue, Swedish, Esselen, Hawaiian Lomi Lomi, shiatsu, and acupressure techniques ($45 and up).

The Marsh

15000 Minnetonka Blvd.

The spa here is just one component of this venerable health and fitness center, which tends to attract an older clientele.

Great For:
staff-created integrated wellness plans, which can include everything from acupuncture to glycolic acid peels.

Top Treatment:
Watsu, a floating water massage based on Shiatsu, leads to deep relaxation, pain relief, and increased circulation ($49 and up).

Juut Salonspa Southdale

Southdale Center
Edina (and six other metro locations)

Though you can find a half-dozen Juut spas around the metro, we’re partial to the sleek, two-story Southdale location, where mod white leather benches, meditation crystals, and loads of natural light have a cool and calming effect.

Great For:
nail services, massages, and hydrotherapy treatments that balance the body’s chakra system.

Top Treatment:
Add the new Perfecting Plant Peel, a non-irritating, natural glycolic peel to any facial for only $25.

Phresh Spa Salon

937 Grand Ave.
St. Paul

You’ll feel right at home in this family-run spa, located in a Victorian house with uncommonly spacious rooms.

Great For:
manis/pedis in the sunny room overlooking Grand Avenue—perfect for bridal parties and group events.

Top Treatment:
customized facials using the Eminence organic skincare line, microdermabrasion, and peels ($50 and up).

Fusion LifeSpa

18142 Minnetonka Blvd.

Owners Tim and Donna Duffy, a designer and aesthetician, respectively, seamlessly integrate beauty and wellness at their Asian-inspired, holistic health spa.

Great For:
time-honored treatments, such as facial-rejuvenation acupuncture and private bathing rituals in a Japanese soaking tub.

Top Treatment
: The two-hour revitalizing Red Flower Nature Ritual includes a steam shower, organic exfoliation, body wrap, deep-tissue massage, and therapeutic bath ($185).

Sanctuary Salonspa

1201 Harmon Pl.
Minneapolis (and three other metro locations)

At the sunny downtown Minneapolis location of this Aveda lifestyle spa, double doors lead to a newly remodeled treatment area—and bliss.

Great For:
a well-deserved break from cubicle land. Nip in over lunch for a 25-minute massage or express facial.

Top Service:
Endermology, a non-invasive, high-tech treatment that’s Heidi Klum’s choice for body-shaping and cellulite-smoothing (from $80).



Relaxation destinations worth the drive


Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, 877-772-2070,
» The spa at Osthoff Resort features global and Native American–inspired treatments including Chinese yin yang facials, Sacred Waters massage, and Balinese body wraps. Serenity-seeking visitors can also take classes in yoga, controlled movement, and meditation.


Green Lake, Wisconsin, 920-294-3347,
» This Frank Lloyd Wright–style sanctuary was built among the wooded grounds of the Heidel House Resort. After an Inner Journey massage using energy points, you can wander the spa’s indoor labyrinth, a path designed for contemplation, mediation, and self-discovery.


Kohler, Wisconsin, 920-457-7777,
» The wizards at this upscale spa in eastern Wisconsin use water to re-mineralize and replenish weary bodies. The Warm Hydro Wrap eases sore joints and bones with a water-filled blanket, while the invigorating Citrus Scrub is followed by a hydrating Vichy shower.


Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, 888-735-8181,
» One of the most tranquil spots in the Midwest is located just beyond Wisconsin’s largest—and often loudest—tourist destinations. Think of Sundara as a serene water park where you can enjoy a purifying bath ritual or escape winter in a heated outdoor infinity pool.

Grandview Lodge

Nisswa, Minnesota, 866-801-2951,
» Tap into the restorative powers of glacial waters pumped from hundreds of feet below the earth at this Gull Lake retreat. A full menu of services includes the Thermal Waters Treatment, which combines an aromatic bath with massage. Afterward, cozy up before the spa’s  fieldstone fireplace.

Waves of Superior

Tofte, Minnesota, 877-468-7772,
» Nestled between Lake Superior and the Sawtooth Mountains, the North Shore’s only spa takes its cues from the surroundings. The hot stone massage uses smooth lakeshore rocks, and the in-suite bath rituals are sure to soothe  sore muscles after a day of hiking or skiing.

Spa Ettiquette 101

Will I have to get naked? How much do I tip? A trip to the spa need not elicit more stress than a day at the office. This cheat sheet will help you navigate your experience so you can relax and recharge in style.

Arrive Early

Most spas recommend that you arrive at least 15 to 20 minutes prior to an appointment so that you can fill out an intake form and get settled before your service. Others suggest you make it a full-day affair. “We encourage guests to come as early as they like to enjoy our whirlpool and sauna,” says Pam Margolis, president of Ivy Spa Club in Minneapolis.

Turn Off Your Cell

No ringtone mixes well with the sound of flowing water or Tibetan singing bowls. In order to maintain a peaceful environment, many spas have adopted no cell-phone policies. “We have designated areas where guests can use the phone, but we encourage them to turn phones off in common areas,” says Catherine Krull, spa director for Juut Salonspas.

Have a Snack

No one wants the post-Thanksgiving dinner feeling while lying on the massage table, but experts also warn against visiting a spa on an empty stomach. “If you’re getting bodywork done and your blood sugar is low, you can become lightheaded,” says Krull. She suggests packing a light snack of granola or dried fruit if you are coming in for a full day of services.

Disclose Your Meds

If you have a medical concern or are taking any medications, tell your practitioner. “Most spas will ask prior to the appointment, but if they don’t, clients should offer the information,” says Michelle Shuster, manager of Fusion LifeSpa in Deephaven. “In the case of waxing, for example, skincare medications and retinols can affect how the skin reacts to wax and peels.”

Get Naked?

Experts agree on on the all-important issue of getting naked: Undress to your comfort level. “With massage and body treatments, naked works best,” says Shuster, “but if you’re uncomfortable you won’t enjoy the service and that’s the whole point.” Rest assured most spas have stringent draping policies so that clients are never exposed during a service.

Speak Up

If you feel discomfort or anxiety (Room too warm? Pressure too hard?) during a service, it is essential to let your treatment provider know—even if you’re covered head-to-toe in pure blue-green algae straight out of Iceland’s Blue Lagoon. “We never leave our guests unattended so we can easily make adjustments,” says Margolis. “Our main concern is the guests’ comfort.”

Leave a Tip

Here’s a tip: Leave a tip. It is common practice to leave gratuity in the service industry and spas are no exception. Ten to 20 percent is the acceptable range, say the experts, provided you were happy with your service. If you’re a regular and don’t want to disturb your post-pampering tranquility by paying the bill, settle up at the front desk before your treatment.

Edited by Elizabeth Dehn. Contributors: Ali Brady, Phoebe Larson, and Courtney Lewis