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The Urbanist

My Big League Spa Day at Trump Hotel

Can some tremendous pampering make me great again?

Illustration by Dan Page
Illustration: Dan Page

The second I put on my plush robe and slide my feet into blinding white slippers emblazoned with “Trump” in gold lettering, I know that my spa day is going to be huge.

The signs had been there for months—going back to at least last November, I’d felt low energy. Crooked. Like a loser. SAD! I needed to do something big-league to snap out of my postelection malaise. Enter the Spa at Trump.

On a clear Wednesday morning, I enter the bustling Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago and ride the elevator to the Zen-like 14th floor. The friendly Kendra sets the stage for my trio of VIP services. Among them: a facial inside something called an oxygen bubble, which reminds me of a cult classic John Travolta movie from the 1970s. I learn it’s actually a tent-like treatment chamber from Natura Bissé—considered the pinnacle of luxury in the beauty world—that pops up at elite places around the country.

“It’s the purest, cleanest air inside,” says Kendra, explaining that Trump Chicago is the first spot in the Midwest to get a bubble. “It will all make sense when you see it,” she adds, somewhat ominously.

Kendra leads me to a plush chair with a grand view of the John Hancock Center and hands me a form that asks what ails me. Stress? Anxiety? Fatigue? Check, check, and check. Let the pampering begin!

After downing several small cups of nuts and yogurt-dipped raisins in the dimly lit relaxation room, I’m ushered into the nail service area for a Hotty Totty manicure and pedicure. Mellow harp plucking sets the mood. I’m told that this fall-themed indulgence includes a scrub infused with brandy made from California-grown Bartlett pears, which I can only assume are the absolute best pears ever. For added relaxation, I’m served a stiff brandy and hot tea cocktail as Eve, my personable nail tech, goes to town on my cuticles. The booze hits me hard, temporarily curbing my worries about what will happen to my health care coverage.

After trimming, filing, and soaking, Eve dredges my hands and feet in a brown sugar scrub as if they were fine pastries. It’s a weird feeling, having your extremities candied. But I can’t argue with the results: My already soft writer’s skin seems even suppler. This is luxury.

My favorite part is chilling in the pedicure chair, where I bullshit with a grandma who lives in one of the building’s condos about Game of Thrones—specifically, the social media uproar over Ed Sheeran’s cameo. Curious about her opinion of the man whose name is plastered on her building, I casually bring up how thin-skinned some people can be these days. “Especially on Twitter,” I say, practically winking. But she doesn’t take the bait. Eh, it’s for the best. It would have been a bummer to be stuck next to a devout Trump supporter for the last 45 minutes of my treatment.

Next is one of the spa’s gemstone massages, where I come as close as a human can get to actually being bathed in jewels. Before we begin, Caren, my very serious massage therapist, shows me the bottle of sapphire body oil, which features crushed pieces of the precious bright blue rock floating inside. “It’s imported from Dubai,” she says. Thankfully, that’s not one of the spots on the travel ban list.

The massage starts with a hot pack on my back and glutes. Typically, during a massage, it takes a good 20 minutes for my mind to stop fretting about whether I left the garage open or a stove burner on. Not today. As soon as Caren starts rubbing the sapphire-infused oil into my skin, I retreat into a deep meditative state. At one point, I feel like I’m floating above the table. The only thing that could have made the experience more luxurious would have been the president’s own tiny hands doing the job. But at $300 a pop, you practically have to be a member of the Kushner family to afford this level of calm.

Next a guy named Luke appears: It’s time for the bubble. Filled with 99.9 percent pure oxygen—free of particles, viral agents, and allergens—it promises to “detoxify, rejuvenate skin, and clear the mind in serenity.”

“Do you want to change?” Luke asks. I’m not sure if he is suggesting that I should or not, so I tell him I’m good to go. Thirty seconds later, still buck-naked under my Trump robe, I’m sharing an elevator with a well-heeled family of three. We get off in the lobby, and I pray my robe stays shut as I navigate through a small crowd to a meeting room overlooking the Chicago River. A pulsating giant white beach ball awaits me.

I walk in, careful not to puncture it with my pen. My drowsiness lifts immediately. I’d heard those urban legends about casinos pumping in oxygen to keep people awake and gambling—maybe this treatment takes a page from Trump’s own properties?

As I inhale the strangely sterile smell, I’m startled to find Jazmine, my petite aesthetician, already inside. She tells me the bubble was created to help athletes recover faster from injuries—and now, supposedly, it boosts the effects of facials. “Everything is penetrating your skin even further because of the oxygen,” she says. “It’s designed to make your skin glow even more.”

Jazmine rubs on a cleanser that feels dry but melts into my skin. Then she administers a mask, which she promises will make my creased and haggard mug luminous. “It is the most luxurious of all of our skin care lines,” she says. Well, of course. Bring it on. (That evening, when I look in the mirror, I’ll feel like I have a youthful glow, but my wife will say I look exactly the same.) After 30 minutes, I’m so relaxed I almost trip as I step outside the bubble and back into my life.

And while I feel a spring in my step knowing I had just about the most relaxing day ever, reality sets in as I hang up my fluffy robe and ponder how I can find a way to join the one-percenters who get this treatment all the time. Hmm, wonder if the Trump administration has any openings?

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