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Nurturing the Body and the Soul

Productivity and relaxation go hand in hand when you include spa and other wellness extras in your event agenda.

By Lianna Matt McLernon

A massage room at Minneapolis’ Halo Healing Therapies CO. CREDIT Meghan Doll Photography

An event planner’s checklist includes things like keynote speaker confirmation, parking vouchers, conference program editing, and sponsorship signage. And those elements can all come together to make a good event—a great one, even. But to make it brilliant, consider augmenting your schedule with spa and wellness perks.

“A lot of people think spa services are a luxury or [think], ‘If I have extra money, I’ll get a facial,’ or, ‘I don’t really need to have a massage because I work out,’” says Ann Zimmer, spa director of Omni Viking Lakes Hotel’s Idlewild Spa in Eagan. “It’s not only good for your body, but it’s [also] good for mental wellness.”

It’s the ultimate win-win. Your guests feel spoiled, and they will be well-rested to engage in the itinerary you have planned. For example, your attendees may receive a facial that helps them relax, release muscle tension they didn’t know existed, and go into their next meeting refreshed and focused. They might get a massage or acupuncture to alleviate the aches and pains that come from slouching in an office chair all day. Or they might simply receive the nudge they need to put down their phones and reconnect with themselves in a sauna. 

A gathering space at Omni Vikings Lakes Hotel’s Idlewild Spa in Eagan CREDIT Omni Vikings Lakes Hotel

WELLNESS IN ABUNDANCE 

Just as an esthetician recommends different skin treatments to different clients, spa and wellness center staff can tailor group offerings to the event. An easy way to integrate a wellness activity into a complex schedule is to buy gift cards, and some centers will even give you volume discounts. For another option, places like NE Wellness Center or Halo Healing Therapies Co. in Minneapolis can bring massages to their clients. The former sets up tables and chairs for clothes-on massages in public spaces, while the latter brings its optionally CBD-infused massages to attendees’ hotel rooms. 

More coordinated excursions are also available. Spas like Lontis Day Spa & Salon in downtown Minneapolis have spa party packages for guests to mix and match services. Minnesota Meetings + Events recommends checking out the body wrap and reflexology foot treat- ment in Package B, but you’ll get a special spa gift no matter which package and services you choose. 

While Accolades Salon Spa in St. Paul doesn’t have specific services for groups, your attendees are bound to find things they like, whether it’s the hot stone massage or hibiscus peel facial. This business is home to a salon, too, so to give your attendees the freedom to really feel their best, you can consider vouchers that can be redeemed for hair services. Also on the east side of the Twin Cities, you’ll find Awaken for Wellness, a spa and wellness center with a St. Paul location that features float tanks, massages, and a sauna. Travel a little farther east to the Woodbury location to experience a salt room and sauna. 

Also consider the Anda Spa, located in the Hotel Ivy in downtown Minneapolis. Its luxurious offerings always include time in the Quartz Spa and Aura Lounge for relaxation, detoxification, and hydrotherapy—and its gem fixation makes for some beautiful interiors. Don’t forget to check the weather, either. If it’s nice out, you may be able to book a forest bathing session, a Japanese practice that combines deep-breathing exercises with natural beauty to calm participants. 

A COMMUNAL EXPERIENCE 

So often we think of spas as a form of self-care, and that’s certainly true. However, it is commonly thought of as a solitary activity, which is not always the case. 

Located in Minneapolis, the Watershed is the city’s first communal bathhouse. “So many cultures have a communal bathing tradition, and there’s a reason for this,” founder Nell Rueckl says. “The level of healing that occurs when you are in a group versus individ- ually in these settings is amplified. … One does not need to have a conversation or verbally connect with an individual, but the feeling of safety and community is healing in itself.” 

To further emphasize this, Watershed offers yoga therapy, and its sister business, Spot Spa, in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis, can hold group sessions of vibrational sound therapy or acupuncture.

Not all places are as community-forward as Watershed, but that doesn’t mean they’re not built for relaxing together. Just for Me Spa in Stillwater has an LED Light Lounge and Himalayan salt room that each seats up to eight guests. The spa also offers overnight accommodations, catering, and an 800-square-foot meeting room with a 70-inch interactive whiteboard.

On the other hand, NE Wellness Center can host a larger group of about 20 due to a business partnership with a venue down the street, says Clinic Manager Kamie Slegers. Smaller groups can still receive services at the new center, which include float tanks and a more accessible layout. Besides the community acupuncture—a core service of
NE Wellness—Slegers says, “We teach wellness classes on different things like sleep, health, nutrition, wellness, and lifestyle. We also do small yoga classes. The space has a backyard, so we’ll have yoga and acupuncture classes back there, and we can host food trucks.”

Idlewild Spa and Läka Spa at The Hotel Landing in Wayzata feature gathering spaces in their spa areas and follow the Nordic rituals of warming, cooling, relaxing, and repeating, which can make for an extra Minnesota touch for out-of-town visitors.

At Idlewild, attendees enjoy an outdoor whirlpool year-round, a sauna, steam room, Himalayan salt relaxation room, and a general relaxation space with chaise lounges and a gas fireplace—the same space can be rented out and serviced with light refreshments and drinks. Here, your attendees’ spa appointment is not just an in-and-out errand—any spa client is welcome to stay if they wish.

Massage tables at Läka Spa at Wayzata’s Hotel Landing CREDIT Hotel Landing

“There [are] a lot of groups that will have spouses or significant others who are coming with them [who use the spa],” Zimmer adds. “Also, we have some groups where they’ll bring in their top performers and then give them the option of having one or two services from the spas as an incentive for them.”

As for Läka, its relaxation lounge has floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the woods, and guests can start or end their experience by going to The Hotel Landing’s restaurant, ninetwentyfive, created by acclaimed Twin Cities Chef Lenny Russo. The eatery also offers private and semiprivate dining areas for parties of four to 160.

Wellness practices in the lineup of events can be customizable experiences depending on the goal of the meeting, explains Sarah Gunter, director of operations at The Hotel Landing. “Is it something [where] they’re coming in for a corporate retreat and they’re here to relax and network—more social? Or is it where they’re coming in for meetings and maybe just want to get a massage after a day of meetings?” 

A ONE-STOP SHOP 

Minnesota North Woods resort spas are the perfect way to turn your event into a retreat with colleagues. Two favorites are Grand View Lodge’s Glacial Waters Spa in Brainerd and the Waves of Superior Spa at Bluefin Bay in Tofte. Glacial Waters was recognized as one of the best spas in the country by Spas of America, and services include body, massage, and nail treatments. Grand View’s campus features even more amenities, including outdoor activities like boating, swimming, and golfing; eight dining venues and an ice cream shop; luxurious cabins and lodging options; and robust event capabilities, including 22 customizable spaces.

Waves of Superior Spa’s attendees can opt for the surfside hot stone massage, signature body wrap treatments like the sugar scrubs, and other experiences including an indoor heated lap pool, hot tub, sauna, and indoor and outdoor relaxation areas along the shoreline of Lake Superior. The spa is also home to eight rentable rooms with capacities ranging from 36 to 90 for private gatherings.

For a weekend retreat within arm’s reach, consider Treasure Island Resort & Casino in Welch, which is a little less than an hour southeast of Minneapolis-St. Paul. Its Wave Spa isn’t lacking, with massages, facials, and body wraps, and the location has a bounty of dining, decorating, and event support services—even a private charter cruise option. 

GIVE YOUR GUESTS SOME LOVE 

Adding spa or wellness offerings to your event isn’t as essential as planning the lunches or the lodging, but it can provide just as much of a boost for your attendees’ well-being—perhaps even more so since many don’t always give themselves this form of self-care.
“Wellness is going to keep growing and growing,” predicts Gunter, noting that companies and individuals are spending more money and prioritizing the sector, year after year. “It’s so worth it. It’s what people need to do for themselves. [With] the environment of what’s going on out there right now, it’s important to take care of yourself.” And whether we’re talking about preparing your attendees for another day of workshops or simply living life to the fullest, don’t you agree? 

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