A Walk to Remember

In Green Lake, WI, Heidel House Resort serves as a tranquil retreat set amid 20 picturesque wooded acres on the shore of one of the state's largest lakes. Last fall, the resort gave guests another reason to visit with the opening of Evensong Spa, which was created in part to help the property remain competitive. "Most resorts considered to be competition to the Heidel House type of resort already had a spa, so we really needed to fill that void," says spa director Jill Hackbarth. The other reason was to give the resort a winter amenity. According to Hackbarth, the resort is located in a seasonal area that is flush with summer activities. The idea was to offer an option that would draw guests to the resort when golfing, fishing, and other warm weather pursuits were unavailable.

Put on the drawing board nearly four years ago, the spa was a long time in coming. Abbajay and Associates, a spa consulting company based in New York City, was brought onboard to conceptualize the spa and was responsible for doing the market analysis and feasibility study as well as designing the product and service offerings. Helping to ascertain what treatments are popular in the Midwest, the market analysis and feasibility study were ultimately used to determine the number and type of treatment rooms. Hackbarth was then brought on several months prior to the spa's opening.

 The women's locker room provides another area where guests can relax before and after their treatments.
The women's locker room provides another area where guests can relax before and after their treatments.

"We definitely wanted to carry a variety of skincare lines that were going to complement each other and provide a number of options," says Hackbarth. As a result, the spa carries Naturopathica because it takes a natural, holistic approach to skincare and is free of chemicals and preservatives. The spa's core skincare line is the aromatherapy-based Decléor, which was chosen for its ability to deliver a sensory experience. For anti-aging, the spa offers Carita, a line intended to appeal to the growing baby boomer market. SkinCeuticals was selected to provide a more preventative and clinical approach by helping eliminate environmental factors that can wreak havoc on the skin over time. "We're really approaching skincare from every angle," says Hackbarth.

Because stress relief remains a top priority for most guests, the menu reflects that mindset with a host of nurturing options. Although the Aroma Swedish Massage is a guest favorite, the Inner Journey Massage ($125, 50 minutes; $175, 80 minutes), a customized treatment that offers a taste of different massage techniques, is another popular treatment. "Most people are focused on eliminating stress from their lives, from their bodies, from their minds, from their spirits," says Hackbarth. "That is a big draw, obviously." To further enhance the wellness experience as well as set itself apart from the competition, Evensong Spa features an indoor labyrinth for meditative walks and personal reflection. Guests can embark on a spiritual journey using the labyrinth as a means to transformation.

The spa's extensive array of products helps boost retail sales.
The spa's extensive array of products helps boost retail sales.

Just 10 months old, the spa caters to a large number of guests from the Chicago area. "I think with the spa being brand-new, we're also getting a lot of Wisconsin locals who are just coming to see the spa, experience it once to check it out, and will hopefully do a good job for us as far as word-of-mouth goes," says Hackbarth. "I think in the long term, we will probably have a good share of our resort guests." According to her, it was originally projected that the spa would garner 90 percent of the resort's clientele. That has yet to be the case, but the spa is proving to be a draw to day-trippers, which include numerous women's groups.

While the spa has yet to reach capacity, Hackbarth is gearing up for high season. She expects to increase the staff from 20 to 40 employees. She also anticipates boosting the number of part-time employees. Everyone, however, benefits from the spa's retail commission program, which provides therapists with their own goal to earn a higher retail commission per pay period. "Their own goals are more achievable than a company goal because they are based on their own sales history," says Hackbarth. "Receptionists also receive commission on retail they personally recommend." If recent numbers are any indication—the spa has a year-to-date retail to services ratio of 33 percent—the program is proving successful.

Hands and feet are treated to manicures and pedicures in the spa's nailcare area.
Hands and feet are treated to manicures and pedicures in the spa's nailcare area.

As for the future, Hackbarth is focused on launching a fitness program. Health and wellness lectures are also on the agenda. Fitting well with the healthy theme, the Café is already serving up a variety of nutritious appetizers, salads, sandwiches, wraps, and smoothies. For those who like a glass of vino with their meal, wine is also on the menu and can be enjoyed during a pedicure.

Although there is no membership at this time, the spa does offer locals a 20 percent discount in the off-season to thank them for their support. The spa also recently introduced a package in which spa-goers can purchase four to six massages at a 20 percent discount and then schedule them at their convenience. According to Hackbarth, the package is based on requests and can be applied to other treatments.

A Jacuzzi with cascading waterfall is an ideal spot to soak in the spa's soothing ambience.
A Jacuzzi with cascading waterfall is an ideal spot to soak in the spa's soothing ambience.

With high season fast approaching, Evensong Spa is poised to surprise and charm long-time fans of Heidel House Resort. Adopting the motto, "Take Good Care of Your Self," the spa is putting guests on a path to a healthier lifestyle with words to live by.

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