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Finding Solace at The Osthoff Resort’s Aspira Spa


This article was originally published on and written for Insider’s Guide to Spas.


It seemed like a perpetual summer, and Elkhart Lake was my liberator. There are some getaways you just know will stay with you forever, and for me getting to experience Elkhart Lake was one of them.

I’ll start at the very beginning: Back in the spring I found a lump in my breast. As you can imagine worry set in, but worry took a back seat to the frustration of attempting to find accessible care for women under 40. I can tell you now, that is no easy feat. Someone out there was looking out for me because I did find help, in the form of an organization called PROJECT RENEWAL . Their mammogram Scan Van was parked right in front of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, a patron saint of poets. The universe was speaking in signs, but this did not ease my worry. An elderly woman in the waiting area noticed my nervousness and held my hand while I waited. She touched my heart. Wherever you are, thank you.

Weeks passed, and I underwent more tests and was scheduled for a biopsy. The emotional ups and downs of each day, waiting for results, and attempting to fight negativity had taken a toll on my mental health. The procedure was scheduled, and for reasons, both logical and illogical, I was terrified. When my editor assigned a trip to Aspira Spa at the Ostoff Resort, I was happily surprised—I would be visiting before my procedure.

This was exactly what I needed. On my first day, I fell in love with the history of the Osthoff Resort. The year was 1886, and upon the recommendation of a physician, Otto Osthoff brought his wife Paulina to Elkhart Lake. (Sharing my name with the founder’s wife was yet another good sign for me.) In attempts to find respite and healing for his wife, Otto began building the haven that stands today. The romantic sap that I am, I can certainly appreciate that kind of devotion.

I walked the halls of the Osthoff Resort, wanting to learn more about the people who’ve visited over the centuries. I soaked up the vintage photos of previous owners and guests. The German entrepreneur certainly knew the specialness of Elkhart Lake. I could feel the history and spiritual energy everywhere, enriched by the people who live here and make it come alive. The energy is felt at the shores and on the waters of the lake—a lake so clear and calm it beckons one to stay just a little bit longer. I kayaked, and for the first time in a long time, I felt tranquil and free. The sun beamed off of the lake and our group glided effortlessly through the friendly waters. Besides getting a healthy dose of exercise and nature, I also got to see the fabulous homes of locals while kayaking.

The peak of my tranquility happened at the lake and at Aspira Spa. I was extremely drawn to the Native American history and influence of Elkhart Lake, and respected that this was once a land belonging to people I could learn from. I was drawn to the lake and the boat dock, finding solace in the healing water and cedar trees. I wanted to be around the power of nature, and it might sound silly, but I was hoping for something to speak to me with wisdom and otherworldliness.

My favorite memory, and one I go back to fondly, was watching the sunset at the lake. While my lake experiences relaxed me, I needed spiritual guidance and body rejuvenation. Aspira Spa was there to provide exactly that.

The spa is very much in tune with its local traditions and pays homage to the earth. Resources for the spa are gathered by utilizing the sacred water from the lake, cedar from the ancient cedars surrounding the lake, elderberry from local elder trees, and herbs from the spa’s very own garden. Aspira Spa is careful to give thanks back to the land in ceremony.

I chose the Elderberry Facial and my esthetician, Rebecca, was perfectly in tune with me. She started me out with a chamomile tea and a foot bath. Whenever a new treatment is added to the spa’s menu its potency and healing roots are top priority. Elderberries are not only indigenous to the area, but a powerful ingredient in skincare—their antioxidant qualities will feed your skin, and gave mine a much-desired glow.

During the facial, crystal lights were placed over my chakras. Sometimes during a spa treatment I have a hard time letting go, and I can be too much in my head—but not with this treatment. I felt the crystals working, and I allowed myself to relax. Because Rebecca thought I needed extra healing, she did a bit of reiki on me at the end. She truly had magical hands and seemed to understand exactly what I needed. From beginning to end the treatment provided more than flawless skin, making me let go of worry.

Spending time in sanctuary before and after a treatment is a must for me, and I was really impressed with the spa’s meditation room. Not because of the way it looks, although that matters, but how it feels. They have built this room with precision; it was designed using the principles of feng shui, as well as the Native American medicine wheel.

Sadly, my time at Elkhart Lake had to end. Each night I relished my time relaxing in my expansive suite that included a kitchen and an inviting living room with a fireplace. I looked out from my balcony onto the resort grounds, taking in every peaceful minute before I had to go back to New York.

The Osthoff Resort is the perfect place to visit alone, with your family, or with your sweetheart. There is so much to do and see, and the town’s local businesses work well together without competing. There is a sense that they are all part of one big family. Elkhart Lake has not seen the last of me. My adventures have pushed me to be brave, and I learned to let the little things go.

Back in New York, my procedure was less scary than I imagined, and my biopsy came back with welcome news. I consider myself lucky, and I remain thankful.

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