Lotions, potions — and relaxation

Breanne Gilpatrick

Lotions, potions — and relaxation

Profusion of Evanston spas in last 6 months tied to political tensions, but ‘sometimes you just need a good massage’

By Breanne Gilpatrick

The Daily Northwestern

Jenny Hubert has been visiting health spas since she was 14 years old. Hubert, a Highland Park resident, said she

frequents spas about four times a month.

“Just taking care of yourself is important,” Hubert said. “I’ve always had an interest in beauty and skin care.”

Hubert now is an employee at Egea Spa, 1521 Sherman Ave., one of several business offering health and wellness services to open in Evanston in the past six months.

Chris Pappas and his wife Katherine Pappas, a Northwestern alumna, own Egea with another family. The spa opened in October and is named after the daughter of an ancient Greek physician known for using hands-on treatments to care for her father’s patients.

Chris Pappas said he and his wife used to live in Evanston and thought the residents seemed interested in the massage, facial and body wrap services the business would offer.

“We like the fact that Evanston is a very nice community,” said Chris Pappas, who now lives in nearby suburb Park Ridge. “It’s a community where people seem to be very concerned about their health and wellness and seem to be inquisitive about how to feel better.”

The desire to be near a more educated clientele also convinced Jarmen Kordou to open her salon and spa in Evanston. Kordou opened J. Antou Salon, across the street from Egea at 625 Grove St., in November. She said Evanston residents are very aware of their health and the environment and are receptive to her spa’s focus on natural products.

Spa use is a growing trend throughout the country. There were about 155.8 million spa visits in 2001, according to the International Spa Association’s 2002 Spa Industry Study. About 68 percent of these visits were made to day spas like Egea and J. Antou Salon.

Politics, war and technology all have made life more hectic, which has drawn more people to spas, Egea’s Katherine Pappas said.

“Things have sped up,” she said. “And one of the effects of that is people seem to have programmed themselves more and that creates a lot of stress.”

History graduate student Jessica Roussanov said she goes to spas near her home in Chicago every other month. She said it’s her way to escape the stress of everyday life.

“Sometimes you just need a good massage or a facial,” Roussanov said. “It’s a nice break.”

The general fitness industry also has seen major growth since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said Bill Howland, director of public relations and research for the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association. Cities like Evanston are seeing many spas and health clubs open at once because people like to have spas close to home, Howland said.

“You’re not going to have people going into the center of the next town just to go to a club,” he said. “As a result you can actually have a number of clubs in a given market. And you might say ‘Hey, this is pretty congested.’ But traffic patterns are such that it is simply an issue of convenience.”

Dick Peach, president of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, said the increase in the number of young professionals should continue to fuel spa industry growth in Evanston.

“It’s like any other business,” Peach said. “They come and go and are trendy. They see their day and they disappear, but I think health spas are going to be around for a while.”