Chuan Spa uses the elements to create sublime spa experiences
By Abby Hart
The study of yoga promotes the idea of mindful, intentional practice—the practice of coming back to the mat, of wellness and self-love through sweat and mind-body connection. The idea of self-care in the form of massage is another vital expression of wellness and can often have benefits beyond soothing muscles and providing a sense of relaxation. I tried a signature treatment at the Chuan Spa at The Langham Hotel Chicago to find out if the benefits measure up to the cost.
Chuan is Chinese for “flowing water,” and the signature treatments of the spa incorporate the five elemental forces of earth, wood, water, fire and metal. One’s element changes depending on a number of factors, such as diet and time of year.
I selected the Body Elements massage and facial package ($265 for two hours, Monday-Thursday, $290 during weekends and holidays). Though the price is on the steep side, the package offers a considerable savings over booking the treatments a la carte.
The luxe spa experience began as soon as I stepped off the elevator and through the elegant “Moon Gate” arched entrance of the spa. The receptionists politely greeted me and provided a short questionnaire to determine the element for the signature treatment. That day, my ruling element was earth, which is related to the spleen, stomach and muscles as well as to a tendency to worry and be anxious. Clearly, this spa day could not have come at a better time.
Guests should plan to arrive an hour early to relax and enjoy the spa’s amenities, and even earlier if they plan on breaking a sweat in the fully-equipped fitness studio or taking a dip in the 67-foot indoor swimming pool. Make time to try the Chuan Bathing Ritual, which includes a Himalayan salt sauna, a chamomile steam room and a sage, rosemary and mint herbal sauna—ideal for awakening the senses, clearing the respiratory system and preparing the body for deeper relaxation.
As luxurious as the spa facilities are, the treatments were the star of the show. The Chuan Harmony massage blended Swedish massage techniques with traditional Chinese acupressure to create harmony of qi, the body’s natural life-force. The spa therapist explained that by applying pressure to certain points on the body, the massage would stimulate the body’s energy channels, or meridians. The acupressure awakened muscles and organs that are often overlooked, and provided a revitalizing sense of connection with the whole body.
The service also included deep breathing exercises at different intervals, which helped re-center my mind and anchor the energy and flow of breath in my body, very similar to such exercises in a yoga class. I left the massage more connected to my breath, body and the energy flowing through it, with my earlier tension and anxiety completely melted away.
The Kerstin Florian organic aromatherapy facial that followed the massage produced radiant results. The slightly off-putting smell of the vitamin- and protein-rich spirulina algae mask aside, the service was enjoyable from start to finish and included a thorough cleansing and skin examination.
The Chuan Spa experience was spectacular and exactly what my tired mind and body needed. I would definitely return to try another treatment, such as the hot and cold Chuan Stone Therapy Massage or perhaps an acupuncture session.
Though there might not be room for a high-end spa visit in everyone’s budget, there are plenty of options for a fabulous spa experience in the city, at a variety of price points. Whatever services you choose, you owe it to yourself and your well-being to commit to the practice of intentional wellness and relaxation.
Abby Hart is a freelance writer and editor. She lives in Chicago with her husband and dog.