We are pleased to welcome back Saunatimes correspondent Kev O’connell. Today, Kev takes us through the paces at Sky Spa, Chicago’s newest public banya/sauna. Welcome Kev!
Recently some sauna enthusiasts have made claim their city is the Sauna Capital of the US. While I don’t want to debate this unofficial title, I can tell you Chicago has a very strong public sauna presence and could be a destination city for sauna travelers. In prior articles we have already discussed the historic Red Square Spa, Chicago Sweatlodge, and King Spa Korean Saunas. The newest entry is Sky Spa Sauna.
Sky Spa Sauna is an authentic Russian style banya/sauna similar to the other Russian saunas Chicago Sweatlodge and Red Square Spa. The trademark of these saunas are massive Belgian granite ovens filled with thousands of pounds of rock for a heat and steam that not only heats your body but heats through you!!!
The first and most important feature of all saunas is the heat. I was a bit concerned walking into the cavernous wet sauna at Sky Spa. The room was the largest sauna room I have ever been in. Twenty people could fit on the top benches alone and still have room on the 1st and second level for just as many. The massive Belgian Granite oven did not disappoint me. The heat was amazing in every corner of the room. I later found out that they use almost twice the amount of stone in their oven as some of the other saunas (over 8000 lbs of rock inside the granite oven for some kick ass lämpömassa.!!) The ovens sit on a four foot thick concrete slab for support. The dry sauna performed equally to the wet sauna, just with a little less humidity and no running water.
After the intense heat I was in need of a cool down.
My cool down started with one of three ice cold rain showers immediately outside the hot rooms, I then made my way over to a massive 30 X 8′ cool pool. I call it a cool pool because it was about 70-72 degrees. I was able to spend some extended time cooling down and chilling in the cool pool.
One of the best features that sets Sky Spa apart from everyone else is a large year round outdoor pool with a large pool deck. It may not be a unique feature on July 7th, but imagine January 7th in Chicago being able to go outside in sub -zero temperatures and take a relaxing swim after rolling in the snow on the pool deck. You can see why Sky Spa has done it right!!!
Some other features I liked was a private party room with your own personal Himalayan Salt Cave Sauna. This room has private bathrooms, showers, relaxation areas, and is quite reasonable. Three hours is around $150. The room can easily accommodate 10-15 people and you still have access to all the other saunas and facilities. You can have food/beverage service in the private room, pool deck, or the full service restaurant inside of Sky Spa. I had an ice cold Russian beer, some Russian smoked fish, and a chicken kabob that was fantastic. Dining next to me was a large group of young millennial guys from Siberia who were also enjoying some of their favorite foods. The service was phenomenal and there was also a strong presence from several of the owners.
I was extremely impressed with everything they did at Sky Spa, the facilities were spotless, service fantastic, and saunas were 2nd to none! The clientele is very Russian and Eastern European, but don’t let that stop you, it demonstrates that Sky Spa is “The Real Deal”. Although I was in a small industrial park in Buffalo Grove IL, for 4 hours I felt like I was at a luxurious Russian Resort on the Caspian Sea.
My take: Highly recommended for families and couples (swimsuits are required in all public areas including saunas) Great Heat!, I can’t wait for winter and cooler weather to use the outdoor pool. The spa is connected to a large private fitness center (Sky Fitness) but Spa customers enter through a small door on the side of the building and fitness members are not allowed to use the spa unless they purchase a separate spa entry. The neighborhood is mixed use office and industrial with several nice hotels within 5 minute drive. O’Hare International Airport is a 20 minutes south of Sky Spa. Location is very good for anyone coming from the north, 5 minutes from Interstate 294.
Did you enjoy Kev’s review of Sky Spa? Check out his appreciation of the slow chill, here. And, read about his experience with his Morzh sauna tent here. And here, Saunatimes Glenn joins Kev at Chicago Sweatlodge.