GILMAN, Ill. — Driving up the two-lane county road that
leads to Heartland Spa in rural Gilman, you realize this may not be a typical
Farms, farmhouses and ranch-style houses are interspersed
with harvested cornfields and plots of timber. Across the road from the spa, a
farm tractor is partially pulled into a machine shed, a chisel plow still
One might wonder what a spa in the middle of corn country —
Iroquois County bills itself as “the buckle of the Corn Belt” — could possibly
offer in the late fall and early winter.
An underground tunnel that insures guests can move to all
the spa services without venturing outside plus an indoor, 84-degree heated pool
for water classes are just two of those offerings.
And like the farmhouses that surround it, although the
weather outside might be chilly, the inside is warm, welcoming and relaxing —
and full of things that are good for the body and soul.
“You don’t have to dress up for dinner,” said Raelene
Honeycutt, fitness manager and program coordinator at Heartland Spa.
The spa brings a Midwest sensibility to the spa experience
while offering a full menu of fitness, health, wellness and pampering services.
“Some guests are coming in because they need a jumpstart
into fitness and health routine, some because they’ve hit a plateau, and they
need a restart, some don’t want to do a lot of the fitness and that’s absolutely
fine because they can enjoy the salon and massage services or just relax and
read,” Honeycutt said.
She said the spa has seen an increase in those who take
advantage of Heartland’s “unBootcamp,” a seven-night visit that combines a
fitness assessment, a personal nutrition assessment, fitness classes that may
include anything from yoga to Pilates to Zumba and aqua aerobics, presentations
on various health and wellness topics, pampering sessions and life coaching. The
end of an unBootcamp day includes a movie with popcorn.
“There has been more of an emphasis on people taking a full
week to jumpstart their fitness to where they can get a grasp on things, take
time to focus on the fitness and health and wellness side of their lives, and we
felt like the week was something people needed so they could take advantage of
that whole time,” Honeycutt said.
The Midwest location of the spa appeals to individuals and
groups from as close as Chicago and the suburbs, as well as Bloomington,
Champaign and Peoria, to nearby Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan.
“People don’t have to add on the trouble and the cost of
plane travel,” Honeycutt said.
The setting is conducive to relaxation. The 32-acre property
features trees and timber, a three-acre lake and spaces for outdoor fitness
classes. Bicycles are available, and Honeycutt said the spa has classes outside
as long as weather permits.
The manicure and pedicure room looks out over the lake,
which has a walking path around it with four meditation stations. Walls of
windows provide what Honeycutt calls “the best seat in the house” for guests
during pampering sessions.
The unBootcamp may sound intimidating, but it’s not – hence,
“We call it unBootcamp because we don’t twist your arm to do
classes. Everything is voluntary,” Honeycutt said.
The unBootcamp is popular with those who want to get a start
on their New Year’s fitness and health resolutions, but some want to gear up
“The Sunday after Thanksgiving, we have four returnees from
last year’s unBootcamp. They booked before they left last year. They wanted to
get a head start before the hustle and bustle of Christmas,” Honeycutt said.
The staff of 70 is a big reason for return visits.
“Our staff is intuitive, and we work together. It’s a small
facility, and we understand what someone is going through. We understand the
reasons people choose a destination spa vacation, a healthy relaxed vacation
versus something they have to get worked up about, whether it’s packing the
right clothes for dinner or just how they’re going to look,” the fitness manager
Clothing is provided for the visits, and guests can take
advantage of that, bring their own clothes or mix the two.
As far as nutrition goes, nobody needs to fear that their
morning cup of coffee will be banned. In fact, water, coffee, herbal tea and hot
chocolate is offered at a refreshment station all the time, along with fruits,
vegetables and even dates, for a sweet treat.
“We serve about 1,500 calories, which includes breakfast, a
healthy snack, lunch, another healthy snack and dinner,” Honeycutt said. “Nobody
has to feel deprived, but what we serve is nutritious, low fat, low sodium.”
For those who can’t get away for a week, the spa offers
single-day, two-night and three-night packages. The spa packages include
presentations, as well as fitness and pampering.
Topics include everything from nutrition information, body
composition and health, meditation to reading food labels.
In keeping with the Midwest tradition of hospitality,
Honeycutt said the appeal of Heartland Spa is due to several factors.
“Our atmosphere is casual and unpretentious. It’s helpful
for wherever anyone is at in life, whether they need to manage stress or they
need to increase their fitness activity or learn more about nutrition or just
rest, relax and be pampered,” she said. “This is for anyone and everyone.”
For more information on the spa, visit www.heartlandspa.com or call (815)