Aurora Ohio Spa Walden 5 Diamond Spa


Time and privacy might be two of life’s greatest luxuries, and they are artfully integrated in the experience guests receive at Spa Walden.

When Bonnie Barenholtz, who owns the Inn at Walden with her husband, Manny, first had the idea of creating a spa here, she knew she would incorporate those two principles.

Spa Walden opened last spring, and today, guests are indulged not only by services such as massages and facials but by the setting itself.

What: An intimate, elegant day spa (or overnight spa, if you stay at the Walden Inn). There are 23 overnight suites at the inn and four villas off-site.

Where: 1119 Aurora Hudson Road, Aurora.

Call: 330-995-9SPA (9772)

Prices: Sixty-minute massages and 60-minute scrubs are $125; prices higher for longer services.
At many day spas, you change in a common dressing room or locker room. Here, a spa guest is led to a private suite, where a bubbling Kohler tub awaits. You are given a plush robe and a half-hour to soak in the bath salt-scented water. Then you can just drink tea and read Vogue while lounging on a pillow-strewn window seat, awaiting the massage therapist.

“We’ve arranged it so people can’t help but have to relax,” says spa director Jenessee Taylor. Taylor used to work for celebrity skincare expert Sonya Dakar and moved here from California to take the job of spa director at Walden.

After a massage that lasts a full 60, 90 or 120 minutes, you can have a steamy shower or just continue relaxing for another half hour. Even if your massage is just 60 minutes, you’ll have your suite for two hours.

Bonnie Barenholtz recalls her pet peeve when she’d get a massage, as she has at day spas around the world.

“Afterward, the therapist would say, ‘Take your time getting ready,’ but you’d hear them waiting outside the door with a bottle of water,” she says. Not here — you really can take your time. And bottled water is in the room’s mini fridge.

The architect for the Walden Inn and Spa was John Terence Kelly, the famed Cleveland modernist architect who died in 2007. Donald Doskey did the interior design for both. Golden yellow, deep greens and chocolatey browns — earthy, substantive colors — seem to bring the outside in.

Manny Barenholtz, who also made a point of visiting spas around the country before building Spa Walden, noted that many spas favor stark white colors and marble, typical ways to convey luxury.

But for Spa Walden, he wanted something more soothing and earthy — a look that paid tribute to the greenery that abounds in this part of Aurora, the heart of the Western Reserve. So favored materials include bamboo and natural stone.

“The mission here is grass-roots luxury,” says Taylor. “There’s definitely an Asian inspiration, but we also wanted to incorporate the countryside.”

Another thing that’s different here is that spa guests choose their treatment from a menu, which is based on one of five themes: nourishing, balancing, tranquility, energizing, rejuvenating.

“Once they read the descriptions, people know which one they need,” says Taylor. The selections have been chosen based on energy chakras, but you don’t have to busy yourself with the details. One will resonate for you.

So, if you choose “rejuvenate,” for example, the music that plays in your private suite will create that feeling. Also customized: the aromatherapy scent used in the bath salts, the color of the water in the high-sided tub and the lotion the massotherapist uses.

The products used, though, also change with seasons, just as our skin does, Taylor says.

As at most spas, massages are the favored treatments here, followed by facials (which also incorporate some massage), then body treatments, including scrubs and wraps.

There’s also a hair salon here, and a separate area for manicures and another private area for pedicures, on the level below the private suits.

There are nine private suites, plus three large enough for couples.

After your treatment, you can linger in the spa lounge, across from the centered fireplace. Order a glass of wine or a spa lunch: perhaps a grilled chicken wrap with carrot-ginger gazpacho, followed by mini-chocolate macaroons.

All the attention paid to architecture, service and ambiance details here have been noted. Walden is the only AAA five-diamond inn and spa in the Midwest.

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