More focused on providing an experience than just giving a service, Michigan spas are offering departures from everyday stress to personal renewal.
Indoor infinity-edge pool
An indoor infinity-edge pool complements other therapies and amenities at MGM Grand Hotel’s Immerse Spa and state-of-the-art fitness center. Day passes can be purchased for $30 by non-hotel guests. Photography by Michelle and Chris Gerard

As calendars begin to fill up, there’s a growing need to wind down.

“The physical and mindful benefits of massage have long been known to reduce stress and relax our bodies,” says Debbie Moerschell, manager of Immerse Spa at MGM Grand Detroit. “Currently there’s been a sharp focus on interweaving mindfulness techniques into our procedures to help us reach a whole new place of serenity and calm.”

Spa menus are becoming more diverse.

“Our spa was designed for adults as a place of personal sustainability, creating a departure from everyday stress to personal renewal,” Moerschell notes.

Guests can utilize a fitness center and amenities that include a Jacuzzi, steam room and infinity-edge pool. Available state-of–the-art workout facilities are equipped with cardiovascular, free weights, circuit training and a full hydration station.

“People nowadays aren’t just stressed out; they’re burned out. They’re taking less vacation days each year. Rejuvenation matters.”
— Debbie Moerschell

Spa events, for any size group, are customized to fit the wants and needs of MGM Grand guests and Immerse patrons. This can include mini-to-full service treatments, informational classes (aromatherapy essential oils, reflexology), a moderate workout program or yoga class.

“We are a ‘Healthy Hotel,’ which attracts wellness tourism,” explains Moerschell. “People nowadays aren’t just stressed out; they’re burned out. They’re taking less vacation days each year. Rejuvenation matters.”

Further north, Solace Spa is another destination for renewal. “People come just for the spa experience, for health and wellness in particular and for the beauty of the region,” shares Erin Ernst, director of communications for Boyne Mountain Resort. They also come to partake in one of the latest trends, social fitness, which involves healthy group activities.

“There are a couple of different locations on the property to experience yoga in a natural landscape,” she notes.

While some guests come for the day, others spend the weekend participating in anything from dance fitness to aqua aerobics. Rejuvenating offerings range from reflexology and hot Petoskey stone massage to Swedish and sports massage. Ernst adds massages for couples and moms-to-be are gaining popularity, too.

Yoga class
Photography courtesy Boyne Mountain Resort

Total Package

At The Homestead in Glen Arbor, Spa Amira overlooks the Manitou Islands. “It’s a small spa inside and an amazing spa outside,” says Sallie Krepps, senior manager for spa and wellness. “We incorporate nature into everything we do.”

Today’s spa-goers are looking for something more comprehensive, she shares. “The spa experience is less about going and getting a service. It’s an experience with us and we’re unique in a sense because of our location and the view.”

Open-air massage is in demand.

“Guests don’t want the same massage,” Krepps says. “They want more of a therapeutic massage. We offer a new therapeutic massage that is a combination of different modalities, like Swedish, hot stones and Reiki. It’s specific to the needs of the guests, so that it’s more of a whole body experience.”

Though a typical first-timer might worry that a massage will hurt or be an awkward experience, the opposite is often discovered. “The therapists are very in-tune to people,” notes Krepps. “It takes a special person to do that.”

Learn more at, and

Branching Out

GREEN LIVING, NATURAL HEALTH, and a holistic approach to personal growth and wellness have established deep roots across the state, but familiarity with the kinds of specialty areas, treatments and services available may still be in bloom. Following are just a few more readily recognized and less-commonly known options.

The vibrations/sound waves from instruments including symphonic gongs, Tibetan bowls, bells and drums travel and resonate deeply along energy pathways.

Acupuncture, an ancient form of Chinese medicine based on energy (or chi) that flows through the body, involves the insertion of thin needles into your skin at certain points to unblock your chi and influence energy flow.

Acupressure is a form of touch therapy that utilizes the principles of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. The same points on the body are used, but are stimulated with finger pressure instead of needles to relieve a variety of symptoms.

Acutonics applies specially calibrated tuning forks to muscles and acupuncture points throughout the body. The vibrations/sound waves from instruments including symphonic gongs, Tibetan bowls, bells and drums travel and resonate deeply along energy pathways (meridians) to help ease an array of concerns, from headaches and digestive issues to life transitions and insomnia.

Vichy shower rinse
A rhythmic Vichy shower rinse follows a signature sea salt scrub at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, which also offers Aromatherapy Massage and Table Thai Body Therapy to release tension, relieve fatigue and infuse energy. Photography courtesy Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

Ayurveda (“knowledge of life”) originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. It involves the recognition and balancing of doshas (different energies) through the integration of disciplines like nutrition, exercise, meditation, massage, aromatherapy and herbal medicine.

Chakra Balancing relates to seven main energy centers (chakras) in the body and how imbalance in one or more of these areas correlates to specific body ailments and physical dysfunctions. Each chakra also houses emotional and mental strengths.

Cupping Therapy uses suction cups to encourage blood flow and promote healing to specific areas of the body to relieve back and neck pain, stiff muscles, anxiety, high blood pressure, migraines, rheumatism and even cellulite.

An Ion-Cleanse is designed to remove toxic accumulations in the body through a specialized foot bath.

Meditation is a practice of concentrated focus in order to increase awareness of the present moment, reduce stress, promote relaxation, and enhance personal and spiritual growth.

Reflexology is a therapeutic method of relieving pain by stimulating predefined pressure points on the feet and hands.

Reiki is a form of energy healing that can help alleviate physical, emotional, mental and spiritual stress.

Qigong is an ancient Chinese health care system that integrates physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention. Practices vary from the soft internal styles like Tai Chi to external, vigorous styles like Kung Fu.

Wholistic Kinesiology is a natural healing system that uses muscle testing to pinpoint unique health needs.

Find a general holistic health overview at To learn more, consult your physician.

— Jeanine Matlow and Lisa M. Jensen

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