Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Spa at the JW Marriott

The invite from the JW Marriott in Chicago for an overnight and spa visit couldn't have come at a better time. It was just after the final weeks of winter when everything just feel blah. And at a time when I had been working like crazy and really needed an excuse for a getaway. Also, nearly all our getaways during our almost 25 year marriage have been with the kids in tow - so this time hubby and I made it into a little weekend alone. 

So, we headed downtown during the last weekend of March, hitting the Good Food Festival at the UIC Forum on our way there. We checked in mid-afternoon and were greeted by this:

And also this. It was a lovely welcome. I probably could have just hung in the room all weekend soaking up the silent time away from our houseful of boys. But...it's hard to go to the city and not take in as much as you can. Oh, and I had a spa appointment that I was looking forward to, as well.

My spa appointment was for a 50-minute massage and one I was really looking forward. Don't laugh -- ok, you can laugh. It's pretty absurd. My most recent massage was in January at a post-holiday party for a non-profit board that I sit on. The group thought it would be fun to go bowling. So, we played a few frames, overindulged in authentic catered Mexican cuisine and then had a chance to get a chair massage. Well, the massage chair was set up in the lounge. And for most of the night, it was quiet and dark in there. Well, by the time it got to be my turn, I think there were some complaints that the NFL playoff game wasn't on. So, as I went in for my massage, they turned on the t.v. and the room filled with rowdy, liquor-filled football fans. The massage chair happened to be in a corner right beneath the big screen. So, as I closed my eyes and tried to relax, the game went into overtime and everyone in the room went crazy. The game was blaring above my head. Not exactly the most tranquil setting. LOL. Sometimes I feel like I'm being followed by a hidden camera crew or unknowingly been insterted into an SNL skit. So, this time I was excited to get a massage and do it right.

The greeter in the reception area took me for a little tour when I arrived of the rooms where I could prepare for and relax after the massage. The massage therapist was wonderful - working the areas I requested without too much pressure. 

I then retreated to the relaxation room where I enjoyed cucumber water and some amazing roasted marcona almonds and thumbed through fashion magazines. I got lost in a wonderfully serene zone and hubby finally texted to see if I'd gotten lost. Had we not had dinner reservations that night, I probably would have lingered just a little longer.

Our dinner reservation was right inside the hotel at The Florentine. We sipped wine and savored such wonderful dishes as Mozzarella di Buffalo and braised pork shank. (More will be posted on dinner at the Chicago Foodie Sisters blog.)

The evening ended with a relaxing bubble bath. Then we were up early the next day to do some exploring. The valet parking allowed us a few hours beyond check out, so we checked out and checked our bags and went on our way for a bit. The JW is located in a great spot - close to theaters, shopping, the financial district. We decided to do a walk over to Millennium Park, stopping on the way for lunch and a pint at the legendary Berghoff Restaurant. We also popped in to check out the Chicago Cultural Center and the Pritzker Military Museum & Library. 

The JW Marriott - and its Central Loop location - makes for a great getaway for those living in the burbs, like me. A train ride on Metra to the Van Buren station is just a short walk from the JW Marriott, so if you'd rather not have to worry about parking, that is another option. For tourists, it's a great location that is close to so much that you'll want to see and do while in this magnificent city. And, the spa is a must - do whatever you can to fit it into your itinerary. I've utilized the spa at a couple other Marriott properties and it's a luxurious addition to the stay that brings it pretty close to perfection.

Keep the JW Marriott in mind for your summer travel plans - can't believe summer is just around the corner! 

P.S. The lobby and open areas are pretty stunning.

JW Marriott
151 W. Adams
Chicago, Il 
(312) 660-8200

***The J.W. Marriott provided a complimentary one-night stay and spa service. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Berghoff in Chicago

Boasting liquor license #1 after prohibition in the city of Chicago, this old school dining spot is legendary in Chicago. If you're a fan of German cuisine, it's a place you'll want to add on your itinerary on a visit to the Windy City.

The restaurant opened in 1898 as a men's only salloon where the food was secondary - a free corned beef sandwich with a stein of beer. It was during prohibition that it became a full-service restaurant serving soda.

There's a large menu of German specialties - sauerbraten to Spinatkn√∂del to sausages, but I usually go for the basic but delicious wiener schnitzel. The tender, battered veal cutlet comes served along with German fried potatoes and a vegetable.

No visit is complete without sampling the brews. If you're not sure what to try, go for the flight where you can try out the five most popular beers on the menu. Find more info at theberghoff.com.

An old menu hangs on the wall at the entrance to the restaurant.

Prairie Guest House, Fishers Indiana

On a recent media trip in Indianapolis, I spent a little time in Hamilton County, staying at the Prairie Guest House Bed & Breakfast in ...