by Alisa Bay
I fell in love with the Heartland Spa several years ago when I booked a weekend stay at the resort in Gilman, Illinois. While it wasn’t upscale or fancy, the former dairy farm, turned bed and breakfast retreat, was all that I hoped it would be. With its warm country charm, delicious food offerings, relaxing spa services, and variety of fitness classes, I knew I found my home away from home.
When I heard that Heartland Spa owner, Harold Lebovic, decided to sell the Gilman location and re-open in Lake Geneva, Wisc., I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. How would the new Heartland Spa compare to what I experienced in Gilman? Would it feel like home? Rather than wondering, I decided to book a weekend getaway. And, who better to experience it with than my BFF, Andrea. Two weeks later, we hopped in the car and were on our way to Lake Geneva.
Of course we did our homework first, researching online before booking, so we knew where we were headed. But we had no idea how lovely the accommodations would be. Located within the Bella Vista Suites, right on the shores of Lake Geneva, the new and improved Heartland Spa has a completely different ambiance than the rustic dairy farm in Gilman. The hotel has some “bling” and is beautifully appointed with a brightly lit lobby featuring complimentary coffee, tea and hot chocolate. All the rooms are spacious suites with balconies and Jacuzzi tubs. We were definitely happy campers.
After unpacking, we headed downstairs for orientation. Andrea and I each received a canvas bag with a folder of information outlining everything we needed to know about our stay starting with a schedule of all activities, the chef’s menus for each day (including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks; all of which were part of our two-night, all-inclusive package), an outline and description of spa services, and a list of local attractions should we want to explore the area. We were also invited to choose a Heartland Spa T-shirt as a welcome gift, something we weren’t expecting, but were very happy to have.
Next up was a guided tour of the facility. In addition to the spa area, the place features an indoor pool, a whirlpool hot tub, a fitness center, a yoga studio, a Himalayan salt sauna, the Heartland café, and several rooms throughout the hotel that are used for various health and wellness presentations. Very impressive, for sure.
With some downtime before dinner, Andrea and I decided to have our massages, which were included in our getaway. When we finished and met up with each other in the lobby, we both agreed that the massages were among the best we had ever experienced. We especially appreciated the fact that both of our masseuses asked what type of pressure we wanted and whether or not there were certain parts of our body that we wanted them to work on. When we were done, we were floating on air. Ahhhh, heaven!
After a quick shower, it was time for dinner. To be honest, Andrea and I were both a bit concerned that Heartland’s 1,500 calorie per day cuisine would leave us hungry. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every meal was not only delicious, it was nutritious and plentiful. Our first night’s dinner, which was asparagus and leek soup, followed by roast breast of turkey with an orange citrus glaze, brown rice pilaf and steamed broccoli, was absolutely scrumptious and set the stage for all of the yumminess to follow. Whether it was breakfast, lunch, dinner or daily snacks, we were never disappointed with Heartland’s food. And, we especially liked The Heartland’s dining protocol of having all of the guests eat their meals together, at the same table, and at the same time. It gave us an opportunity to meet some wonderful women during our stay.
The Heartland’s evenings don’t end with dinner. Each night, guests are invited to enjoy an evening activity which could be a class, a presentation, a discussion or a movie night. Andrea and I decided to attend Acupuncture Happy Hour, where we learned about acupuncture, how it’s used, and its healing power. Interested in knowing what it felt like, I volunteered to experience acupuncture for myself, something I don’t think I ever would have done if I weren’t at Heartland.
After a great night’s sleep (the beds were extremely comfortable, by the way), we woke up and went to breakfast, another wonderful meal, and took advantage of all that Heartland Spa has to offer including a lake shore walk, an aquacize class, yoga, a skincare presentation, a pound class, and something I had never heard of before called “Creating Flow,” where we got to put our artistic talents to use. The next day was more of the same: excellent meals, various fitness classes and a walk by the lake. I have to say that the expressive dance class, which was taught by a dynamic woman who was chosen for the TV Show, So You Think You Can Dance, was one of my very favorites. The weekend flew by much too quickly.
So, what did I love about Heartland Spa? Everything!
I loved that there was something for everyone and that we could do as much or as little as we wanted. I loved the staff and the way in which they took care of their guests. From the moment we arrived, it was obvious that the Heartland Spa team was genuinely interested in our needs and ensuring that our visit exceeded our expectations. I loved the food. Every meal was delicious and presented beautifully. I loved the location and the accommodations. The lobby is beautiful and our rooms were spacious and comfortable.
While I will always have a special place in my heart for the quaint dairy farm in Gilman, Illinois, the new and improved Heartland Spa in Lake Geneva did not disappoint. Andrea and I will surely be back, but next time, we’ll stay even longer.
For more information about Heartland Spa, visit www.heartlandspa.com.