Girls Getaway – The Heartland Spa
As a mom of two (very active) young boys, with another on the way, I could use a break. My friend Samantha, who also parents to two active young boys and blogs at The Peanuts Gang, felt the same way. We recently had the opportunity to spend two days at The Heartland Spa, an all-inclusive spa and health resort among the cornfields of Gilman, IL, a small town 90 miles south of Chicago.
The Heartland Spa was ranked the #1 spa in Illinois in 2011 and #9 out of 800 spas globally by Spas of America. Oprah Winfrey even stayed at The Heartland Spa and was there when she found out she would be playing Sofia in The Color Purple! Check out that story and more about The Heartland Spa in the news here.
Location: 1237 E. 1600 North Road, Gilman, IL
Parking: Free parking in the attached lot.
Check in and check out: Check in and check out vary depending on the dates of stay and packages. Our check in was at 2:30 pm on a Friday and our check out was at 5:00 pm on a Saturday. For a full weekend stay (Friday-Sunday), check in is 4:00 pm and check out is 12:30 pm.
Price: Prices vary depending on the package purchased.
- 1-night Stress Buster Stay – $399/person or $600 for 2 people (includes $80 spa credit per person)
- Weekday 2-night stay – $587-$940/person (includes $80 spa credit)
- Weekend 2-night stay – $670-$1000/person (includes $80 spa credit)
- 3-night stay – $858-$1350/person (includes $90 spa credit)
- 5-night stay – $1400-$2200/person (includes $240 spa credit)
- 7-night Get Healthy Getaway – $2500-$3150/person
Accommodations: The standard room is included in all value packages. There is an additional fee for other rooms.
- Standard room – twin beds with a private bathroom and shower.
- Manor room – $10/person per night upgrade fee. One king or two double beds, a large shower and/or bathtub, armoire, table and chairs.
- Estate room – $50/person per night upgrade fee. Two queen beds, heating/cooling controls, glass sliding doors with mock balcony, shower and bath tub with vanity sink.
Bathrooms: In addition to the bathrooms in the rooms there are private bathrooms in public areas of the resort.
Food: Meals and snacks are included in the cost of your stay. The Heartland Spa offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, two scheduled snacks each day. Additionally, beverages (water, juice, iced tea, coffee, hot cocoa, and hot tea) and healthy snacks (fruits and vegetables) are available in the Manor throughout the day.
The food served is nutritious and low-fat. A menu is set out each day so guests can see what will be served for each meal and snack and nutritional information is included.
Meals are served in the dining room in the Manor. Accommodations are made for vegetarians, vegans, and those with other dietary restrictions. The chef or a chef’s assistant is available to discuss the food with guests and during each meal they visit the dining room to check on guests.
- The Heartland offers a full schedule of activities and guest speakers each day. These are included in the cost of your stay. Although the schedule is different each week, the current week and weekend schedules are available online so you can see the types of activities offered and you can view the schedule before your stay. The activities page gives descriptions and fitness level for each activity.
- Pool and hot tub with locker room and showers.
- State-of-the-art exercise equipment and a weight room.
- Studio for aerobics and fitness classes.
- Yoga room for classes and demonstrations.
- Clothing, exercise items, spa items, and gifts are available for purchase at the main desk.
- 50% off the Day Package – 8-hour stay (9:00 am – 5:00 pm) which includes the use of spa and fitness facilities, lunch and snacks, your choice of a massage or facial, manicure, pedicure, and all classes and presentations.
- Happiness Coaching Weekend – November 30-December 2, 2012.
- Jane Austen Weekend – January 11-13, 2013. Special rates start at $540/person.
- Singles Weekend – coming soon
Groups: Groups of up to 32 can be accommodated and group discounts are available.
- Bikes and paddleboats are available for use.
- T-shirts, sweatshirts, and a robe are provided for use during your stay.
- There is a 1/3-mile wooded path around the lake for walkers or joggers.
We paid: The Heartland Spa provided me and Samantha with a complimentary one-night stay. The regular price for a 1-night stay for two people is $600.
Samantha and I arrived for our Stress-Buster Escape at a little after 3:00 pm on Friday. We were welcomed into the Manor and filled out some paperwork. The host told us about the orientation at 4:30 and gave us a schedule of all the activities during our stay. We brought our bags to our room and found some clothes laid out – 2 t-shirts, 2 sweatshirts, and a robe for each of us.
After settling in we relaxed in the sitting room before our orientation, and I made Samantha pose for a picture.
We met for orientation where we received a tour of the resort and then met in the Wood Room for information about the services offered and an opportunity to meet the other guests staying for the weekend.
The Heartland Spa is a quaint, old-fashioned bed and breakfast, but with a state-of-the art spa and exercise facilities and a wide range of classes and presentations. The main floor of the Manor includes the Wood Room (which has the only tv in the resort), a sitting room, the dining room, and the main desk/gift shop. The rooms are large and comfortable and guests are encouraged to read, talk, or just lounge. Guests are asked to wear only indoor shoes, socks, slippers, or bare feet on the main floor of the Manor; cubby holes are provided in the hallway for outdoor shoes so guests don’t need to run back and forth to their room before going outside. Guests are asked not to use cell phones in the common areas of the resort, although e-readers are perfectly acceptable.
Guest rooms are small and simple. Ours had a dresser and two twin beds, and a small bathroom with a shower. (I never even used the shower in our room; the pool locker room had showers and I wound up using those instead.) The rooms do not have television sets, and the phones they have call only within the resort or to 911. Wi-fi is available in the Manor though. The idea is that you don’t spend much time in the room (& we didn’t) because you’re too busy with other things.
We attended the orientation at 4:30 and received a tour of the resort facilities and met with other guests, staff, and presenters in the Wood Room. Everyone was friendly, relaxed, and eager to help us have a fantastic stay.
After a bit of relaxing, it was time for dinner. The dining room is beautiful, with large windows with a view of the lake. The tables are accommodate 4-6 people this is a great opportunity to meet new people. We dined with other guests, including a presenter who was going to be speaking about The Power of Mindfulness: Living in the Moment. It sounded fascinating, but our stay ended before her presentation. The food was very good. For dinner we had soup followed by chicken with mozzarella and vegetables. There was dessert too – banana ice cream.
After dinner was more relaxing (ahhhh….) and a dip in the pool and hot tub (just feet for me because I’m pregnant). The and we made sure to be in the Wood Room for the evening movie, 27 Dresses. A huge bowl of popcorn was available in the dining room, as well as the beverages available throughout the day.
The Heartland Spa offers a personal wake-up call at 7:00 am, but you can choose not to get the wake-up call. Samantha and I both woke up before the wake-up call and were anxious to explore the resort some more. There is a “Greet the Day” walk at 7:15, but Samantha opted to borrow a bike for a bike ride instead, and I decided to walk on my own to explore the resort and take some pictures. I even saw the sun rise!
I walked around the labyrinth behind the buildings, and took a short walk down the wooded path around the lake.
After my walk it was time for breakfast – a large buffet including oatmeal with lots of topping options, egg white frittata, muffins, fruit, and homemade granola. Samantha had a mani/pedi scheduled after breakfast and I decided to relax in the sitting room with a book, something I haven’t really had a chance to do in… oh, about five years!
I had a mani/pedi scheduled just after snack time (fruit frosty) and Samantha was on her way out just as I headed in. She seemed very relaxed & had decided to add a facial to her schedule. My mani/pedi was wonderful; the nail technician was very friendly and pleasant and she did a great job on my nails. During the pedicure I enjoyed the massage chair and had a fantastic experience.
Lunch was served shortly after my spa services and we enjoyed a large salad with a toasted whole wheat pita and socialized some more. I took a short nap after lunch and then spent a little time floating in the pool. After a snack of an apple cookie I attended a Stretch and Relax Yoga class. The instructor noticed my very pregnant belly right away and helped me to modify some of the poses to be more comfortable.
Unfortunately, after yoga it was time to start packing up to head home. As much as I missed my husband and kids, I would have LOVED to stay longer. I relaxed more in the 24 hours I stayed at the Heartland than I probably have in years. Samantha and I got a picture together (in our Heartland shirts, of course) outside near the lake. I was really happy with how I spent my time at the Heartland, but I wish I had a bit more time for some more classes (the Aqua Motion class I would have enjoyed conflicted with my spa service time), and I would have liked to try out the paddle boats they had in the lake.
Things I didn’t like:
- There aren’t any options for meals. Breakfast was a buffet, but for lunch and dinner everyone is served the same meal (although accommodations are made for those who are vegetarian, vegan, or have dietary restrictions). I feel like I should mention that I tend to be a picky eater so I prefer having lots of options, but the food was very good and healthy.
Things I did like:
- Every stay is all-inclusive. It was great not having to think about paying for meals, renting bikes, or paying for classes.
- Spa credit is included in your stay as well!
- The food was healthy and delicious and there were healthy snacks and beverages available throughout the day.
- Free wi-fi is available in the Manor for those who can’t fully escape technology.
- The Resort is limited to about 30 guests at a time. This means you get to know almost everyone there and nothing is ever crowded. Samantha and I had the pool and hot tub to ourselves, and we were able to stretch out on the couches during movie night.
- Schedule your spa service early. Appointments can be made a week beforehand.
- Bring comfy pants and shoes, but don’t overpack. Heartland Spa provides t-shirts, sweatshirts, and a robe for use during your stay.
- Bring a friend! Or don’t! Most of the guests were there with friends or family members, but there were people there by themselves too. I loved being there with a friend and having someone to talk to and hang out with, but there’s definitely enough to do and plenty of ways to relax alone and focus on yourself. With communal meals and activities, the Heartland Spa is a great place to make friends too.
- If you can’t do an overnight stay try an 8-hour stay. With the current special it’s 50% off so it’s only $150 for lunch and snacks, spa services, full use of the facilities, and all the activities and presentations being offered that day.
Samantha and I received a complimentary Stress-Buster stay at the Heartland Spa. All opinions are my own.