Why You Need a Girls’ Weekend & My Sundara Inn & Spa Review

Nothing refreshes your soul like a weekend away with good friends. Throw in a trip to the spa, no parental responsibilities, and you’ve got yourself one rejuvenated group of women! Since college graduation, my four closest college friends and I try to gather for a girls’ weekend each year. We’ve had marathon shopping trips, trips to resorts in MN and WI, staycations, one day long gatherings, three day long gatherings. We’ve announced pregnancies. We’ve been pregnant. Every year it felt like there was a new baby being born, and our time together was a momma’s opportunity to sleep in!

Finding a weekend that works for all of us has been tricky! We have had to schedule around regular life and work responsibilities, hailing from two different states, and 13 kids between the four of us. While everyone may not always attend each year, I am thankful for the expectation of this tradition. Thankful for the continued friendship with these ladies I’ve now known for almost half my life. Thankful for our families and husbands that allow us to get away for girl time. Thankful for the adventures – good, bad, creepy, and funny!

The chance to hang out in person with friends is so invaluable. Do you make time to connect or reconnect with those important to you? My father-in-law and his college besties still gather every August for their “Super Stag” weekend. Considering they graduated in the 70’s, that’s a lot of guys’ weekends!   

Finding Our Inner Spa Voices

For our destination this year, we headed to award winning, Sundara Inn & Spa in Wisconsin Dells. It’s a good 3.5 hour drive from the Twin Cities. While we didn’t stay at Sundara, we opted to save some money (and use it towards spa treatments) and stay at the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Wisconsin Dells. We spent all day Saturday at the spa, arriving at 10am and leaving at 9pm closing time.


When you arrive and check in, you are politely reminded to use your “spa voices” –  something my friends and I joked about during our time. You’ll immediately notice the interesting wall feature – reindeer moss panels. How unique looking and tranquil is that?


Photo courtesy of Sundara Inn & Spa

After reviewing your spa treatments, you are escorted to the women’s lounge where you’re given a plush robe and sandals, and a locker to store your belongings. I’d recommend arriving early so you can take your time getting checked in, relaxed, and then join in the optional tour which runs every 15 minutes. (At first all the spaces look the same, but you’ll eventually figure out the layout.)

There are so many lovely relaxation spaces, that I wish we had more time to enjoy them. Some of my favorite spots to lounge were the Relaxation Room, Radiance Room, and Purifying Bath Ritual Room. All the common spaces, with the exception of the Signature Pool Deck and Cambrian Oasis (doesn’t the name just sound relaxing?), abide by the “spa voices” rule – only quiet-conversation and no cell phones!  And yes, I did see several spa patrons get asked to put their phones away. It’s so tempting to take a group photo in the infinity pool!  I get it!   

Photos courtesy of Sundara Inn & Spa

In each of the relaxation areas, you’ll find that it’s stocked with a make your own granola bar, an assortment of waters, hot teas, and the spa house drink: jaggery tea. Seriously, this tea is the bomb. Jaggery powder is an unrefined sugar. This tea is so lightly sweetened, and when combined with the other warm tea offered (cannot remember the name!), makes for a delish drink. You can find jaggery powder at India Spice House in Eden Prairie. Sundara’s jaggery tea is so popular, they even posted the recipe on their Facebook page:

Jaggery Tea Recipe for You
• 2 Cups water
• 3 Tablespoons Jaggery
• 7 Leaves Holy Thai Basil
• Lemon Juice to taste
• Pinch of salt

1. Bring water to a boil, add jaggery and basil leaves.
2. Add pinch of salt and lemon juice.
Mix well.
3. Serve warm.
4. Enjoy   

Spa Services Experience

Have you ever fallen asleep during a pedicure? Sat in a salt room? Or gone through a five-step bath process? Yes, yes, yes!


Sundara Signature Pedicure – $95, 60 mins.
Are you able to fully relax during a pedicure? I normally get distracted by the salon odor, conversations, and cringe from the exfoliating and clipping going on with my feet. But, this one at Sundara was SO good that I fell asleep! A weighted eye pillow, heated neck wrap, aromatherapy, and foot massage just put me out.   


I’m pretty hard on my feet. With the combination of high impact activities, and what I later discovered, ill-fitting workout shoes, my nails had taken a beating. The nail technician did an absolute amazing job ‘fixing’ my problem nails, and the polish job lasted for well over a month before showing any signs of chipping.


Salt Room Therapy – $25 when added to any service, 45 mins.
Salt rooms, or ‘halotherapy’ are believed to help with detoxifying and supporting the immune, lymphatic, and nervous systems. I was experiencing seasonal allergy symptoms, so thought this would be the perfect add-on. You enter a room filled with salt crystals – on the floor and salt tiles lining the walls. You can choose to sit on a side that blows out more salt-infused air (ok, I made up that term), or the other side with a lower dose of salt. I could taste a hint of salt on my lips, so there was something happening! The room is partitioned into semi private sections (I think 6-8 people can be in there at a time?) with very comfortable reclining lounge chairs. Feel free to bring reading material or take a nap!


Sundara Signature Massage – $170, 50 mins.
I’ve had a lot of massages, and this one didn’t jump out as one of the best I’ve received. Nothing to complain about really, just that I’ve had better ones before.


Purifying Bath Ritual
Technically this isn’t a service you schedule, but one you can do at any time during your Sundara stay. This is a self-guided treatment intended to help cleanse the skin and ready the mind for your spa experience. We were SO busy getting pampered and relaxing :), that we didn’t find time to do this until the very end of the night. Definitely try to do it first thing if you can! While in a swimsuit, you rotate through five steps:


  • Step 1: Exfoliation – Using the Sundara Sandstone Body Polish, you stand under a rainfall shower and exfoliate your entire body. The polish is made from sand excavated from the site and is scented with peppermint and ginger. Go on, breathe in the refreshing aroma!
  • Step 2: Body Mist & Steam Room – Spray your body with this soothing body mist before stepping into the steam room.  
  • Step 3: Cooling Rainfall Shower – Set to a specific temperature, this shower cools your body down.
  • Step 4: Slide into the essential oil-infused hot pool with jets.
  • Step 5: Plunge into the cool pool to help with circulation

You can go back and forth between any of these steps, but that is the recommended order to complete your bath ritual. And for us, what a perfect way to end our day at the spa!


Dining On Site

We ordered lunch at the swim up bar in the Cambrian oasis area. Portion sizes were ample. Dinner was in the Nava Restaurant on the second floor.  Heads up: You will be the oddball if you are wearing normal people clothes! Yes, all you cute, young couples dressed up in your semi-formal outfits will feel very out of place! The rest of us (groups of ladies) are all sitting in our Sundara issued robes. No seriously though, on our tour we were told that most guests show up to dinner in their robes.


Photo courtesy of Sundara Inn & Spa
Wellness Activities

I appreciate Sundara’s commitment to holistic wellness. However, I will say the two fitness classes that we attended were very much for the beginner. I went to a gentle flow yoga class. While it was in the very picturesque Woodland Reflection Room, I found it a bit too choppy and not as mind clearing as I had hoped. We ended with a view of several deer in the woods just outside the wall of windows, so I guess that was a nice ending!


My friend checked out the water yoga class, also a bit of a disappointing experience. It was held in the tiny swim up pool area. I wonder if it is normally held outdoors when the weather is warmer.


I decided to stop in the fitness studio to squeeze in some strength and cardio. The room was pleasantly well stocked with multiple sets of weights, good working stationary exercise equipment and fitness machines.

Final Thoughts

We loved our spa day at Sundara. Even though it may seem expensive, you really are making it an experience with all of the amenities and details found throughout the spa. It was a great place to recharge, relax, and unplug. This adults-only spa is a place for both men and women – we were actually surprised at the number of couples we saw. Whether you’re due for a spa day, or looking for a special getaway, we would definitely recommend Sundara Inn & Spa. I’m ready to go back!

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Carolyn Wieland

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