Mario Tricoci has done it again, and this time he has spared no expense in the nail department. With 16 manicure tables, 11 pedicure chairs, and three special 2-in-l chairs, the spa in the heart of downtown Chicago boasts the Illinois-based salon and spa chain’s largest nail department to date.

Salon Name: Marie Tricoci Hair Salon & Day Spa

Location: 900 North Michigan Ave., Chicago

Owners: Cheryl and Mario Tricoci

Square Footage: 17,259

Years of Ownership: one at this location (opened September 1999), 35 years in the salon business

Number of Nail Techs: 22

Specialties: 2-in-1, a simultaneous manicure and pedicure in a spa throne, glycolic foot treatments.

Other Services: full-service salon offering everything from hair to makeup to spa services.

Compensation Structure: straight commission plus benefits, including medical, dental, 401 (k), vacation, and continuing education.

Notes: Mario Tricoci owns and operates 21 Hair Salon and Day Spas in the greater Chicago land area, Kansas City Mo., Leawood, Kan, and Columbus, Ohio, plus four Tricoci Too Makeover Centers in Chicago and Overland Park, Kan. In addition, the company recently merged with Elizabeth Arden Salons, bringing the total number of locations to 130.

KEEP IT LIGHT AND CLEAN: In a city where fancy spas and fabulous retail stores abound, Mario Tricoci’s year-old salon on Michigan Avenue has raised the bar. The design is the first thing you notice upon entering Mario Tricoci Hair Salon & Day Spa, located on the lower level of the Bloomingdale’s building. The feeling is light and clean, using satin-finished stainless steel details and soft-green glass in a wide-open space. Designed to create an environment that allows clients to relax, the architecture consists of a network of open spaces that are connected visually, creating Zen-like views of other areas of the salon.

From the downstairs salon to upstairs inside the spa, the entire location has a buoyant feeling, thanks in part to a mixture of natural materials, such as rough-cut limestone, and translucent materials, such as sandblasted glass. Helping to keep the spa atmosphere clean and healthy, there are also added touches in the landscape elements, such as living rows of lemongrass and displays of the herbs and flowers that are ingredients in many of the products that are used at the salon.

A LITTLE PIECE OF ISTANBUL: The heart of the spa is the Turkish Chamber, featuring the Hammam Room (or humid chamber) where guests go to relax and purify their skin, hair, and body. Surrounding the Hammam Room are various, other rooms including a needle shower (an invigorating shower of fine jets), a steam room, a Vichy shower, whirlpool, and sauna. There is also a Quiet Room, where guests can stretch out and relax after or between treatments.

In addition to these fabulous spa treatments, there are also 36 hair styling stations, 26 hair color stations, six massage rooms, four facial rooms, a spa dining area, a makeup studio, and a custom-blended scalp treatment bar. And we haven’t even gotten to the nail department yet.

NAILS AT LARGE: The nail department at 900 North Michigan Avenue is the largest of all the Mario Tricoci nail departments. With a total of 16 manicure tables, 11 pedicure chairs, and three 2-in-1 manicure/pedicure chairs, nail department manager Gloria Williams-Jiles has a lot to think about, including hiring and training a large staff of nail technicians, pedicurists, and assistants.

“We make sure that all of our employees are trained in all of the services that we do,” says Williams-Jiles. “They train one day a week and assist on the other days until they are ready to go on the floor. And we always offer continuing education. This way all of our employees can be knowledgeable on all the latest products and techniques.”

One of the interesting things about how the nail department is run is the different positions that are available within the salon. There are nail technicians, advanced nail technicians, pedicure specialists, and advanced pedicure specialists. The salon and day spa decid­ed to introduce pedicure specialists, who focus solely on foot services, because of the increasing demand.

“Many salons offer hair color specialists or cutting experts,” says Bobbi Kulczycki, nail department director for all 21 of Mario Tricoci’s salons. “This program takes that philosophy to the spa level. Our pedicure specialists receive special training focusing on the feet and become true experts. They learn the newest ingredients used in pedicures, from pumpkin to glycolic products to aromatherapy, and how to recommend what is right for each client. In fact, they even take special classes from a podiatrist on how to diagnose common foot problems, and make referrals when a doctor’s exam is necessary.”

The way the nail department is set up is similar to many spas that have attached salons: Artificial enhancements are only done downstairs at the salon, while pedicures are only done upstairs in the spa. “This is to keep the odors from the enhancements out of the spa area,” says Williams-Jiles, noting that manicures can be performed either upstairs or downstairs. “Likewise, we only perform pedicures upstairs because we think of them as a spa service.”

Hand and foot services available at Mario Tricoci include such natural treatments as a milk manicure and pedicure, pumpkin manicure and pedicure, sea salt manicure and pedicure, aroma manicure and pedicure, facial for hands and feet, reflexology for hands and feet, sport pedicure, paraffin wax, and glycolic treatments for hands and feet.

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