Sunday at the Spa

What’s a better gift than comfort and relaxation? I’d argue that there’s none. While some people see it as a luxury, others enjoy massage therapy as a part of their regular health and wellness routine – lucky people indeed.  The waiting room at the Well Spa one Sunday afternoon was filled with new guests and regulars: an athletic looking man, an anxious couple, a mother-daughter duo, and an older woman pouring over a magazine. Everyone was whispering and slowly slipping away from the chaos of their own worlds in the solace of the waiting room, where the Well Spa experience really begins. I was cautious to interrupt people, so I began observing with my eyes behind a tattered copy of People and waited for an opportune moment to approach a guest.

As the sleek, all-black clad therapists cycled in and out to escort guests back to their private suites,  Ashley and Michael’s eyes continued to widen. They smiled and peered over each other’s shoulders at the surveys they were filling out detailing their preferences for the treatment. It was obvious that they had no idea what they were about the experience.

So I just had to ask – “Is this your first time here?” Ashely chirped back. “Oh yes, this is our first massage and we’re going in together.”  It was a birthday gift from Ashley to Michael, who turned 24 on Sunday. “Michael was having some back pain, so I thought this would be good for him.”  A romantic couples massage is a perfect gift, in fact, it’s two great gifts wrapped up in one, as the giver also benefits from his/her own generosity.

Ashley and Michael have been dating for five years and married for three. They’ve lived in Milwaukee all their lives, but they’ve never been to the Pfister Hotel. After their massage, they planned to  continue the birthday celebration at dinner.

As more guests circulated out from the suites back into the waiting room, they moved a little slower, stood a little taller and their skin looked a little fresher. They marched back into the real world, hopefully better equipped to combat harsh realities like the weather, work, and stress. Thankfully this harmonious oasis is open seven days a week.

welcome to the Well Spa
Welcome to the Well Spa

The Bride in Repose

Annie was unlike any bride I’ve ever seen – totally relaxed. Before she endures an afternoon of coiffing and dressing tomorrow, she was getting polished down at the Well Spa. The pale pink polish on her hands and toes matched her demure personality. Annie has to run out to pick up a card box – “Who knew you needed a special box just for the cards?” she shrugs, but agrees to meet me in the lobby to catch up when she returns.

The pomp and circumstance of a wedding can often set even the coolest cucumber into a fine frenzy. Not Annie. Maybe she was blissfully ignorant since she didn’t really start planning for her December wedding until October.

Annie and her flower girl.
Annie and her flower girl.

Everything was put on hold until she finished graduate school though. At least she’s a girl who’s got her priorities in line.

Annie returned promptly with her mother, Fern, who also seemed relatively calm. “Chris and I drove the moms crazy, at least that’s what his mom said,” Annie admitted. “Oh, I am glad you were making her crazy, I thought it was just me,” Fern voluntarily chimes in.

Shortly after, her brother and sister, Jaime and Jeremy, showed up with their own entourage of curious and adorable kids. There was a chorus of questions and plans to accommodate last-minute needs before they dispersed to get ready for the rehearsal dinner. Annie’s dad also popped in to check up on everyone and then retreated to his room after he felt reassured (and relieved) that his help was not needed.

We had yet to talk about a major part of her wedding – the groom. Annie and Chris met in college in 2003 and dated for a while before she moved to Manhattan and he took off to Colorado. A few years later, they met up in Florida and agreed that they wanted to be together. They’ve been living in Chicago for the past five years, and plan to stay there while Chris finishes law school.

Annie did have one wedding detail on lock down. She and Chris booked MeatBute, a Meatloaf cover band, to make a special guest appearance and perform a few songs at the wedding – mainly, a rousing rendition of “I Will Do Anything for Love.” She was giddy with excitement, like a kid talking about Santa Claus, “We heard them in Chicago and were just blown away. But shh…don’t tell my mom, it’s a surprise and no one knows about it.” Nothing like a surprise cover band to kick things up a notch at a wedding.

Throughout our entire conversation, I continually comment, “You’re so calm, I can’t believe that you’re getting married tomorrow.” She looks at me point blank and replies, “What’s there to be nervous about?” Now that’s a blissful bride.

Annie and family getting ready for the big day.
Annie and family getting ready for the big day.





The first thing seized is the nose. The smell is, at once, familiar and exotic: chocolate, ginger, hyacinth, grandma’s house and ocean breeze. This must be the scent of ambrosia.

Next, the eyes take in the organic symmetry of the room: open and clean lines, recessed nooks and uncluttered walls, multiple sitting areas, oversized planters and ottoman.  The space is bathed in comforting tones of caramel and sand. Soft leather.  Textured fabrics. Brushed metals. Polished glass. The décor is resplendent refined, the livable chic of a Park Avenue apartment (or, I should say, how I imagine a Park Avenue apartment).

I’m in the waiting area for the Well Spa + Salon. One woman is waiting with me.  She is in a sitting area closer to the entrance,  pressing the keypad of her cell phone.  She’s cozy on her leather island and I’m comfy on mine.

A tall woman with the angular limbs of a runway model appears from a hallway. She is dressed in slim black pants and a loose black blouse draping from one shoulder.  Her heels snap rhythms against the hardwood.

“Collette?” she asks.  The cell phone woman is ushered from her private island into the salon behind a frosted glass door.

A young guy with a high and fanning mohawk saunters through the waiting room, his oil dispenser hooked onto one of his belt loops. His eyes face ahead of him, but he wears a faint smile, like it’s carrying a lingering joke. More therapists and stylists criss cross the waiting room: a short, dark-haired woman; a tall, pregnant blonde; a thick-hipped brunette; an average-in-every-way soccer mom; a long sculpted ponytail.  They all wear black. They all wear pleasant expressions. They all move swiftly. What’s most notable, however, is how they all make minimal eye contact.  Each passes with the quiet and deliberateness of a river ebb.

As each guest arrives, I wanted to ask a battery of questions, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t bring myself to disturb this shared quietude to ask whether this spa trip was a ritual or a special treat. If there was a specific stressor they hoped to have kneaded from beneath their skin. If they were still searching for a stylist to call their very own. Did the therapists approach each landscape of skin with a different sense of adventure. How do they relax when they’re not shepherding clients into zen?

Years ago, I remember sitting in a nail shop, my feet massaged by bubbling jets and my nails drying in painted gloss. The salon hummed with luxuriating customers until one voice began to peel away the soothing ease.

He was perched in the high chair next to me, his girlfriend next to him. One after the other, to seemingly no one in particular, he lobbed commentary about the warm water, the antibacterial spray to his toes, the antics playing out on television, the storm forecast, etc.  I’m sure the couples’ pedicure was a great idea when his girlfriend first thought of it.

“First time?” I finally asked.

He nodded, broad smile.

“Very different from the barber shop,” I said, smiling back.  “You get to just sit back and relax.”

He looked around. The technicians and their clients were leaning in close to trade quiet conversations, if they spoke at all; a few customers bantered lightly across aisles; some murmured into cell phones; most flipped through magazines, sat quietly or gazed up to the television. Understanding dawned on my neighbors’ face. He leaned back and embraced the quiet.

Once again, here in the Well Spa, I share a rich silence with strangers. It feels sacred. Or, maybe, this “right now” is the blessing. Our intersection of lives might have in common a precocious toddler, a fiesty dog, a new lease, an ailing friend or nothing at all.

I retreat into my notebook, welcoming the ease of not having to fill my mouth with words or drawing reluctant sounds from someone else’s. We are cocooned here, soothed with calming sights and smells, cradled in a suspended stillness.  Though I won’t be guided into the skilled hands of a masseuse or a stylist as I leave the waiting room, I ascend the staircase into the hotel lobby feeling wholly renewed.

I Do: Part Deux – Wedding Photo Contest


Weddings are a big part of our history. From the grandest to the most intimate, each wedding has a special place here at The Pfister. That’s why we’re proud to announce our I Do: Part Deux, Wedding Photo contest.

You are cordially invited to share your Pfister wedding day memories with us for a chance to win some great prizes!

To participate, please upload your favorite wedding photo and story to our Facebook page. The couple with the best photo/story submission will win a one-night “I Do” anniversary package that includes the following:

Submit your story today. 

BREAKING NEWS: Marcus Theatres Mascot Missing Over Weekend

generic Marcus Theatres” src=”×264.png” alt=”” width=”300″ height=”264″ />Stubby, the mascot for Marcus Theatres, click was discovered missing from the Majestic Theatre on Saturday morning. Several unverified sightings were reported throughout the day.

According to reports, Stubby was seen from I-94 in the parking lot of the theatre where he was driven away, cialis possibly against his will, in an unidentified vehicle. He also was seen that afternoon at The Pfister Hotel, incidentally, also owned by Marcus Corporation, receiving services at the WELL Spa, sipping on a cup of Starbucks and taking a dip in the pool. This was reportedly followed by a famous Pfister Mary in the Lobby Lounge.

“He seemed to really be enjoying his time here,” says a Pfister employee. “It’s just my opinion, but it didn’t seem like he was being held against his will.”

Hotel employees say Stubby received a key to the Heritage Suite and enjoyed a restful afternoon nap before heading to the Milwaukee Wave game. At the game, Stubby high-fived fans and went onto the field and tossed t-shirts to the crowd. According to sources, his final action was leading the crowd in a spirited rendition of “YMCA.”

Stubby mysteriously returned back to the Majestic Theatre by Sunday evening. It was reported that he was heard muttering about the Business Journal’s Brand Madness contest. “Marcus Corporation’s Theatre Division was up against its own internal rival, the Hotel Division’s Pfister Hotel. One modest hotel against a massive 700+ theatre division.” Sounds like Milwaukee’s own David and Goliath story. “I’ve always had a soft spot for the underdog,” he reportedly mumbled.

Rumor has it Stubby voted in the Brand Madness contest while perusing a complimentary-use iPad in The Pfister’s Café. Only time will tell if he voted for his home team, or if he switched sides, supporting the historic hotel—the little guy.

Curtis from 97.3 Radio Now, Visit WELL SPA

Check out Curtis from the Connie and Curtis Show on Radio Now 97.3, sovaldi getting a well needed pedicure and manicure.


We love Curtis a lot, but the before video is not for the faint of heart. You may want to pay a little more attention to the after video. Well Spa really pulled a miracle on this one.



Thank you again Curtis for enjoying your services from Well Spa + Salon.

Connie & Curtis can be heard from 5:30a – 10:00a on Milwaukee 97.3 Radio Now.

Elizabeth’s Tips: Three steps to Healthy Feet

Let the team at WELL Spa us help you take care of your tootsies.

Here are three easy steps to healthy feet.

1) Always dry your feet well after showering and check between your toes for cracks and dryness, which allows bacteria to grow, increasing the risk of infection.

2) Be sure to remove nail polish that is older than four weeks, or as soon as the polish starts to chip. Water may get trapped between the nail and the polish, creating the perfect environment for bacteria, fungus and dryness of the nail.

3) Moisturize your feet every night. This prevents problems with dry, cracked heels and peeling cuticles.

Don’t forget! Save 20% on oils and lotions in the Gift Shop including SpaRitual® Sole MateTM Hydrating Foot Balm through June 30, 2011.

Get your Feet in Check at WELL Spa + Salon

It Really Is a Small World After All

The lobby is packed with people. It’s prom season and dozens of couples have appeared to pose for photos together, even though the dance is being held elsewhere. Their dresses are brightly colored: sunny yellows, crisp greens, rich pinks and deep purples – embellished with crystalline drops or lacy embroidery. The bubbly nature of youth is contagious, and all are smiling. Suddenly, appearing at the entrance to grand applause, is a woman in the grandest gown of all: a bodice of pure white, encrusted with pearls, and billowing skirt clutched in one hand while her other hand grips a bouquet of white and purple irises. Rightfully so, a bride has stolen the show.

To my left, at one of the lobby tables just outside the lounge area, an elegantly beautiful woman in a black dress and pearls sits captivated by the parade of dresses. I catch her eye and we start conversing about the various styles, about the young men whose arms sport garters a la 1920s gangsters, and about our own reminiscences of proms 30 held years apart. We discover that we share a common love for ballroom dance, but before we can talk much more, a handsome gentleman appears and whisks her away for dinner elsewhere.

I move on, making my way through the crowd.

As I’m about to pass the bride, she reaches out and grabs my arm – “Hey! You’re Stacie, right?” She points towards the sign that bears my name and a photo, “You’re the narrator person?” Still a little thrown by this new approach to the position, I respond, “Yes” but don’t get any further than that before the bride says, “You know Lauren *****!?” The name sounds vaguely familiar, but it doesn’t register. My face is blank, so she repeats, “Lauren *****! She says she knows you – you guys worked at a camp or something?” and it clicks – ah, yes! I do know this person! Four years ago we worked at an all-girls summer camp together. I then become quite excited. The bride tugs me over to a group of young women in matching purple dresses and – sure enough – there she is, this wonderful person with whom I’d lost touch several years ago. We embrace. It turns out that she’s up from Indiana to be a bridesmaid in her cousin’s wedding and recognized my picture. We catch up briefly before she takes off for the reception – promises are made to keep in touch.

Not more than a few minutes have gone by when I run into someone I recognize from my other job working for a local bookstore. Eyes get bright, and the question “What are you doing here?” is answered by both parties. She’s here with her sisters for a belated Christmas gift from one sister to the others: a weekend at the Pfister complete with massages at WellSpa (“Incredible! It was so relaxing I almost fell asleep, but I didn’t because I wanted to enjoy it.”), dinner at Mason Street Grill, and drinks at Blu. We chat for a few minutes, connecting on a more personal level than we previously had in our other world of knowing one another.

Both of these re-connections then remind me of earlier in the week when, in Racine for a sporting team practice, I discovered one of my teammates had been the person who won the Pfister diamond necklace, given away by the hotel, earlier in the year. Throw in the fact that an artist friend I had lunch with this same day happens to know Shelby Keefe well – and it was as if the fates were simply waiting around the Pfister, intent on placing people directly into my path.

Rainy Milwaukee Night
Rainy Wisconsin Ave

A little later into the evening, while eying up the miserable November-like weather outside, I practically run right into the couple I met earlier while watching the crowd of prom-goers. We pick up talking as though we’d all three gone to dinner together, then make our way up to Blu for a cocktail or two. Anybody watching would have thought we’d known each other for years. As it happens, the Pfister “Pfates” aren’t simply trying to re-connect me, they’re trying to simply connect me. After making new friends this evening, I can’t wait to see who gets put in my path next.

YOUR TURN: What connections or re-connections have you made at the Pfister?

Get your Feet in Check at WELL Spa + Janice Salon [VIDEO]

With warmer weather and the festival season approaching quickly, ambulance their is a pressing need to go and get you feet in check for Flip-Flop season.

Follow Joshua Wolter as he checks his feet into WELL Spa + Salon at the Pfister Hotel.

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Love and Pizza

I saw a lot of bouquets on desks yesterday. That’s the nature of the beast, right? What I really wanted to see, however, was adoring couples and cute gestures and candle lit dinners. So, I went to the Pfister.

I found out that Hallmark needn’t intervene; the Pfister is like your Valentine. I was met with badges, not bouquets. Haggard business folk still wearing their I.D.s from the conference happening upstairs stumbled around the hallway. It dawned on me that this is a fairly common visage and that each of these beleaguered it’s-been-a-long-day-‘ers was working on Valentine’s Day. Sure, most of us worked, it’s not quite that kind of holiday, but knowing the company they were with was a sweetheart of sorts to Milwaukee’s economy it really felt like perhaps celebrating Valentine’s Day at the hotel for work is a bit like courting commerce and to some degree, that’s a good thing.

Also to my surprise and delight, there were a few singles in the lobby bar. Sure, their fingers caressed merrily the keys of their smart phones (for one is never alone with a smart phone) but it was nice to see the independence and irreverence for hearts and flowers taking place.

One single bellied up to the bar and it was clear she had been her own Valentine. A large bag from WellSpa and a terribly refreshed look about her matched her fancy cocktail and made it really feel like love, or at least relaxation and me-time, were in the air.

Just as I was about to give up hope that I’d see any red and pink-clad couples, one walked in…and headed straight for David, the bartender. They were regulars and friends and complete with sparkly red heart-shaped necklace, announced that they were making a special point to stop by and wish him a Happy Valentine’s Day.

Maybe it’s not the holiday so much as what you do and how you assess where your relationships are. I liked being at the Pfister for this holiday for part of the evening because I realized that lots of things woo you and court you in a hectic life. Business or regular people you encounter daily or even you can be your own valentine.

But before I sound too jaded (because I’m certainly not), I have to tell you about the couple, Chris and Heather, who came into the hotel and nestled in at the sofas by the fire (which was, of course, roaring). A glass of wine and a clear glow about them (I learned later they were fairly recently engaged), the pair was the delightful storybook romance I was hoping I’d see.

They made my Valentine’s Day fantasy even more complete when they broke out a deck of cards and started playing a game with each other. As if that gesture of simple, casual closeness and clear interest in one another isn’t enough, when talking to them, I’d learned they had originally planned to be at a local pizza establishment that serves heart-shaped pizzas–now that’s my kind of fancy. The wait for this delicacy was two hours, so they retired to the comfortable atmosphere of the Pfister and the fire to simply…be.

Neither of them was wearing red or pink. There were no frothy fancy drinks between them. Their work-casual apparel didn’t sparkle. But, their easy togetherness in front of the fire set the perfect scene and I have to say, Hallmark couldn’t have captured it if they tried.