Milwaukee Journal SentinelWet And Mild
Mequon’s Sybaris a warm haven for chilly couples

On a recent Saturday afternoon, the wind chill outside was down where thermometers fear to tread. But inside our room at the Sybaris Pool Suites in Mequon, my wife and I were simmering comfortably in a hot tub getting relaxed, refreshed and wrinkled.

I was on the job. I was carrying out an assignment difficult for any reporter to turn down – spend an afternoon with my wife, Vicki, at the Sybaris, 10240 Cedarburg Road, Mequon, and write about what it was like.

Is this a great country or what?

When I called Vicki to tell her about the assignment, all I could get out of her was something like, “Whoomp, there it is! Whoomp, there it is.”

And my co-workers, especially the women, showed a mix of emotions that ranged from congratulatory pats on the back to eye-blazing jealousy to frowns of suspicion about what I must have done to finagle such an assignment.

In case you’re not familiar with the Sybaris, let me explain:

Sybaris Pool Suites were started in 1974. Of the chain’s four suites, three are in Illinois – in Downers Gove, Northbrook, and Frankfort.

According to the brochure, Sybaris is “carefully designed to create an atmosphere of comfortable intimacy…An oasis of luxurious privacy dedicated to romantic marriage.”

“Romantic marriage”: That’s the key – some might call it near-oxymoronic – phrase. Only couples are allowed.

Sybaris, “is not a hotel and is not be used as a hospitality suite,” guests are informed by the Inn’s literature.

The room we stayed in offered a lot of assistance to putting some romance in our marriage. There was a refrigerator, microwave, coffeemaker, and many other things you often find in motels. There is no phone, although cellular phones are available at the desk.

But there also were two wine glasses, a corkscrew, gas fireplace at the foot of the bed, stereo, television and a VCR outfitted with four romantically themed videotapes, two of which were X-tremely romantic.

But the main ingredient in creating a Sybaris experience is water. The Majestic Swimming Pool Suite has a 21-foot swimming pool with an overhead waterfall, a steam bath built for two, a whirlpool, two vanity/sinks and a Sitz bath in the bathroom. There’s even water in the bed.

We spent our first 15 minutes touring the room. With each new revelation, my wife blurted out, “Oh my God.”

We went for a dip in the pool. We tested the waterfall. After a few minutes, I felt like the proverbial frog in boiling water as the almost too-hot water worked its way through my frozen limbs.

“I want one of these,” Vicki said.

We checked out the steam bath. I’ve always loved steam baths. I sat there concentrating on the sweat running down my face, listening to the steam go on and off and on again.

I wasn’t relaxing anymore. I was being turned into a viscous mass. My bone structure was slowly being dissolved.

“I want one of these,” Vicki said, this time a bit more lazily.

We turned on the six shower heads in the steam bath’s ceiling to revive us and left to investigate the room’s other facilities.

Enhancing the bedroom area’s ambience are its unusual lighting arrangement and its mirrored walls. Even the ceiling has a strategically placed mirror.

There are recessed lights in the ceiling and recessed lights under your bed (to help you find your shoes?). There are even recessed red lights in the ceiling above the bed, surrounding the strategically placed mirror.

The fireplace the foot of the bed and all those lights are operated by a control panel embedded in the bed’s headboard. Flick a switch, the fireplace blazes. Slide one lever that way, the lights under the bed glow. Slide another switch the other way, the red lights lend a Felliniesque aspect to your stay.

There’s also an electrical outlet in the headboard that’s handy for any small appliances you may have brought. Maybe you like to drink frozen daiquiris in bed. Go ahead, bring your blender.

The only small appliance we brought with us was my wife’s blow dryer. But she didn’t need to. The folks at Sybaris provide a built-in one in the bathroom, along with a healthy array of soaps, shampoos, lotions, and other toiletries. Even toothbrushes.

And towels. There are two towels by the swimming pool, two by the steam bath, two by the whirlpool and two whole stacks of towels in the bathroom. There are even two fluffy bathrobes. Mine was a bit small.

The swimming pool and the steam bath are separated from the bedroom area by a glass partition. The whirlpool however, is right next to the bed.

Safety is evidently a concern. Near the door, right next to the whirlpool, is an emergency button that when pressed issues a distress call to the office, in case you swam too many laps around the pool.

So we soaked ourselves in the hot tub. And we soaked some more. We drank coffee from the coffee machine. We sipped wine from the wine glasses they provided.

We didn’t worry about work. I hardly gave a thought to writing this story. I wasn’t going to take any more notes. And we certainly weren’t worrying about some kid knocking on the door saying, “Mom, when you’re done in there can you fix me breakfast.”

We just soaked our tired bones in the hot tub and felt the steam bathe our faces. We definitely were relaxed. But not sleepy. Something tells me the rooms at the Sybaris aren’t for sleeping, especially in the afternoon.

I glanced at the clock. It was 2:08 p.m.

A tune crept into my head as I wiggled my toes in the whirlpool jet:

The weather outside is frightful,
But the hot tub inside’s delightful,
Since we have a couple hours to go,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

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