Solaia Luxury Salon & Spa at Indigo

January 2018 View more

Getting a massage on the beach or in a beautiful mountain setting just might be the ultimate luxury experience, but it’s something typically reserved for once-in-a-lifetime vacations or trips to exclusive destination spas.

Amanda O’Connor aims to bring the beach and the mountains to clients at her new venture, Solaia Luxury Salon & Spa. Located on the ground floor of Water Street’s Hotel Indigo, Solaia opened in late November with a concept unlike any place else.

Yes, customers can get a haircut, pedicure or other traditional service. What’s new here is the addition of virtual technology and video walls to create spa packages that transport clients to distant places for relaxing, immersive experiences.

“You can have your massage on a beach, on a mountain, in the snow or under the stars,” says O’Connor, who is CEO of Solaia.

Customizable packages such as the African Adventure, Tahitian Timeout and Tuscan Grape Getaway feature a bite of themed food, as well as skin and hair care products with scents of a faraway region or distinctive place. Meanwhile, scenes from the adventure play out on walls of oversized televisions surrounding clients in treatment rooms.

A customer who chooses the African Adventure, for example, gets a taste of plantain chip with mango chutney while zebras gallop into an African sunset on four 50-inch television screens. Before a pedicure, a client might don virtual reality goggles for a three- to five-minute video “safari.”

These video clips, which O’Connor and partners created especially for the new salon, lend a unique ambiance to the treatments. Prices for a full day of spa treatments range from $300 to $500, O’Connor says, but a la carte options are available for less.

She is also the owner of two other salons called Soleil Salon & Day Spa: an Aurora location opened in 2005, while a sister salon in south Naperville opened in 2014.

O’Connor was thinking big from the time she opened her first salon. “I wanted it be as huge as I could imagine,” she says, providing a hint of her entrepreneurial passion.

At 16, she left high school to launch a modeling career. Not long after, she found out she was pregnant and became a single mom to her son, now 25. O’Connor is now married and also has two daughters, ages 5 and 7.

She earned a nail technician license and worked at area salons before opening Soleil. When another firm’s lease for the Water Street space fell through in late 2016, she jumped at the chance to try a new business concept—an idea that was planted when customers embraced fireplace and beach scenes that play at her other salons.

“I’ve lived the majority of my life knowing my destiny and what I need to accomplish,” she says. “I’m kind of a jump-off-the-cliff person. I have to have stress in my life to thrive.”

The high-end salon is ready to welcome women in need of a pampering retreat, but O’Connor wants men to feel equally at home.

“We didn’t create a place decorated with feathers and glitter,” she says of the interior by Michele Pelafas, a designer and artistic director who specializes in salons. Instead, the vibe throughout the 2,700-square-foot space is contemporary and elegant, with modern gas fireplaces and thickly upholstered pedicure thrones in a soft, gray fabric.

Solaia will serve customers from the community, as well as Hotel Indigo guests, who can choose to have treatments in their rooms if they prefer.

Solaia Luxury Salon & Spa
120 Water Street, #126