SPA REVIEWS: Spa Space in Chicago

Chicago's Spa Space bathroom

Endurance Tactics

Over the years, Tessler has made it a point to avoid straying from her original business model. For Spa Space, this means forgoing many trending beauty offerings and sticking to tried-and-true spa treatments. This spa owner prefers to concentrate on the services she’s sure her staff can provide “with impeccable results.” She’s learned her lesson from past experimental forays.

“We used to do a bronzing treatment, but it was the type of service where about 20% of the time, the client would scratch herself or the technician would miss something,” she says. And an attempt at providing an organic facial fell short of Tessler’s financial expectations: “We discovered there wasn’t as much interest as we had anticipated, at the price we had to charge.”

Targeting a male audience was an initial goal of Tessler’s, given Spa Space’s office-surrounded location and her initial market research indicating a dearth of male-oriented offerings in the area. The spa started by providing private rooms for men’s nail services. (Although the same was extended to women, Tessler has found this option key to making men feel more comfortable.) The menu features an extensive array of male-friendly treatments, including a Glycolic Facial (40 min./$80); a variety of massages specialized for runners and golfers; a Sports Pedicure (60 min./$55); and a Man Hands Manicure (30 min./$25). Today, men comprise more than half of the spa’s top clients. “Overall we see more women than men,” Tessler says, “but men are more likely to return.”

Not so coincidentally, couples have long flocked to Spa Space for tandem massages and other romantic offerings like the Strawberry & Champagne Pedicure (60 min./$60) and the Wine & Roses Body Treatment (90 min./$160). (Private suites for two are available; wine is BYO.)

Corporate group business has resumed as Spa Space’s goldmine, thanks to the spa’s entirely separate menu for companies seeking everything from fun ways to host a working lunch or large-scale client-appreciation event to full spa rentals. Always at the forefront of Spa Space staffers’ minds? “How to accommodate groups without bothering individual clients,” Tessler says. Mid-sized treatment rooms that can accommodate a few clients, with sliding partitions to make them versatile, have come in handy. Tessler often partners with nearby eateries to provide food for group events, or for individuals who want to eat between treatments—a nice complement to the spa’s extensive in-house selection of delectable treatments such as the Vanilla-Almond Pedicure (50 min./$55) and Peppermint Patty Body Treatment (90 min./$160).

It’s safe to say that life as a spa owner has been anything but dull for Tessler—and she wouldn’t have it any other way. “You would think that after 11 years there would be a pattern,” she says. “But every day there’s a new surprise.” It beats hitting the snooze button.

Spa Space

Year opened: 2001
Square footage: 7,500
Facility: 14 treatment rooms; mani/pedi lounge with 10 stations; couple’s pedicure suite; his-and-hers locker rooms, each containing a relaxation lounge and steam/rain showers; private, large hospitality suite for groups; retail boutique
Number of employees: 75
Average ticket: $77
Product lines: Anthony for Men, Epicuren, Essie, Kiehl’s, Kobo Candles, OPI, Sharp’s for Men, Skinceuticals, Sonya Dakar, Vibraderm, Voluspa
Most popular treatments: Swedish (60-120 min./$95-180) and deep-tissue (30-120 min./$55-180) massage

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong is a freelance writer and co-author of the forthcoming lifestyle guide, Sexy Feminism.

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