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Oh Wellness!

by By Elise Hofer | CS magazine | February 7, 2011

Don’t you dare call it a spa. Valeo, the new personal care and fitness facility at the JW Marriott Chicago on Adams, has earned the title of “wellness center.” And after one visit, it’s easy to see why: Instead of your standard (and predictable) wraps and rubdowns, Valeo (meaning “to be well, strong, powerful, influential” in Latin) takes a passionate and preventative approach to customized health care, relaxation and beautification. And hotel guests, members of the center and visitors are reaping the benefits.

The brainchild of wellness industry vet Katie Hurley—the founding force behind Kiva Day Spa in the ’90s—Valeo really is an innovative addition to our city’s wellness scene. “Our personal care consultants design unique experiences to help each guest define wellness in their terms, on their timeline,” says Hurley. “The only ‘signature’ experiences at Valeo are the ones we help our guests author for themselves.”

A standout amenity of the 20,000-square-foot space is its Clarity Chambers. Somewhat similar to a traditional Turkish bath, Valeo’s his and hers heated chambers are used for “cleansing, purifying and bodywork,” according to Hurley. She recommends coming in 30 minutes before your scheduled treatment to meet with your consultant and unwind.

For my first experience, I opted for an 80-minute bodywork session with a structural therapist. After moments of assessing my muscles he had pinpointed the problem areas and was fast at work, proving two things in the process: Valeo has vetted its professionals thoroughly, and its East-meets-West techniques aren’t a bunch of hybrid hooey. I do not say this lightly: It was one of the best massages I’ve ever had.

Also fresh to the Valeo team is fitness steward Shea Vaughn. A certified yoga and Pilates pro (and mother to Vince), we can’t wait to take one of her SheaNetics classes that start April 1. 151 W. Adams St., lower level, 312.660.8200, valeochicago.com