Even though I have my own salon it doesn’t mean I don’t like to pamper myself. I like to get a pedicure about every three weeks, and I try to go to different salons, which isn’t hard to do given that Chicago is home to some of the best salons and spas in the country. Getting a pedicure helps me relax – and it gives me an idea of what other salons and spas in the area are doing. I also encourage my staff to get services at different salons and spas, and we meet regularly to go over where we’ve been and what our competition is doing.

So when NAILS asked if I’d be interested in getting a service at a salon in my area and write about my experience I didn’t hesitate to say yes. It wasn’t hard picking a salon either. Spa Ariel had just opened across the street from my daughter Taylor’s preschool, and I had been thinking about checking it out.

Although I regularly make pedicure appointment haven’t really found a salon that offers a pedicure that meets my standard. Maybe it’s because I do nails for a living, but whenever a nail tech is working on my feet, I’m almost always tempted to take the nail file from her hand and file my nails myself. Or else I get a good pedicure but a lousy polish job that chips after just one week. So I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Spa Ariel, especially since it had only been open for about three months.

The spa is located in the city’s South Loop, which is currently undergoing a major revitalization, and is owned by twin sisters Patti and Sherry Norcross. Patti is a manage therapist while Sherry is an esthetician. The sister designed the space around a Moroccan theme and it’s visible in the dark, natural woods, exotics colors, and rich fabrics and furniture throughout the spa. The spa offers nails, facials, waxing, body treatments, and massage, but no hair services. Four part-time nail techs handle all of the nail services.

I took a seat at a pedicure throne and was promptly ask to turn off my cell phone. There’s a strict cell phone policy here, and they enforce it. Then Mary Patterson got to work. She’s been a nail tech for 14 years and has been at the spa for about a month.

Mary gave me one of the best pedicures I’ve ever had. Not once did I feel like I had to keep an eye on her to make sure she was doing a good job. Everything was great, from the massage and warm towels to the filing and polish job. I was surprised the service was so inexpensive, however. I paid $55 for my pedicure, which I thought was on the low side for a spa in the area. One nail tech even approached me and told me she thought the spa’s prices should be higher. And although I love my service, I also expected better customer service, especially since many of the spa’s employees came from well-known salons in the area. Still, I’d be willing to go back to the spa and get another pedicure. That’s how good my service was.

LaShaun Brown-Glenn is the owner of Nails Naturally in Chicago

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