Pillow talk, Midwest girlfriend getaways

I never bring a pillow when spending the night away from home, unless my destination is a campsite or a floor, and I don’t recall a too-soft or too-hard hotel pillow ever ruining one of my vacations.

Perhaps that is too much tolerance, judging from the number of people who will lug their favorite pillows onto airplanes or into motel rooms.

Now a Chicago hotel operator also is acknowledging the power of the pillow to improve or restrict a good night’s sleep. The Hotel Burnham, a historic boutique hotel in downtown Chicago, has a pillow library for its guests. They are free to use pillows of various fills and sizes – no charge.

There are 5-foot-long body pillows, filled with goose down. There are buckwheat hull pillows, designed to lessen stress, through acupressure.

The PillowPositive is meant to reduce snoring, because of the way it positions the head. Small pillows filled with flaxseed are available to soothe the eyes.

The straightforward down pillows in this library come in more than one size and shape. The biggest appears to be a 26-inch Euro square.

“Great sleep is such an important part of a good visit,” says Chris Johnson, the hotel’s general manager. “Patrons really appreciate us going that extra step to ensure that they are comfortable.”

If that’s not enough, guests can pay $10 to slip an “herbal dream sachet” into their pillowcase. Various herb/flower mixtures are created by herbalist Jim Long; names range from “Healing Comfort” to Colorful Siestas.”

“For most people, herbal dream sachets will bring about a change in dreaming, add color to black-and-white dreams or quiet restless sleep,” contends Long, of Blue Eye, Mo., who also has written a book about herbal dream pillows.

If none of that interests you, consider this: Pets are welcome here, and they can sleep on beds of “hypoallergenic fleece with cedar chips.” Kitty can use a disposable litter pan, “which we service,” and will get a treat upon arrival. (Human guests can partake in a one-hour, complimentary wine reception.)

Room rates for AARP members begin at $165 per night. There is an assortment of package deals; one that caught my eye was “First Love Package,” starting at $210 per room and including a bottle of sparkling wine, chocolates, continental breakfast and parking.

That’s not unreasonable for downtown Chicago, plus the property is a historic landmark that has won architectural awards. It is on State Street, across from Marshall Field’s; call (877) 294-9712 or go to www.burnhamhotel.com for more details.

Notes about special weekends for women have begun to accumulate on my desk. Here is information about three; please drop a line if you know of or have experienced others that are worthy.

In Galena, Ill. – at the state’s northwest corner – the 10th annual Ladies Getaway is Sept. 12-14. The area is known for its scenic hills, abundance of antique and art shops, historic lodging options.

The getaway is the result of brainstorming by women who operate stores, restaurants or inns in Galena. They will offer discounts, small gifts, product samples, workshops, music and makeovers. Most, but not all, events are free.

Weekend package rates have been put together by at least a dozen bed-and-breakfasts, resorts and motels. They include ghost tours, afternoon teas, massages, manicures, chocolates or full breakfasts – depending upon the property.

To get a free brochure with more details, call (815) 777-9050 or go to www.galenachamber.com/ladiesgetaway.

If you need more time to plan, consider the Women’s Getaway Weekend that will be Nov. 21-23 at the Olympia Resort, Oconomowoc. The property has a particularly nice European spa that is good for lounging in small groups.

Retailers are brought in to set up temporary shops at the resort. There also is an extensive coffee bar, as well as cocktail drink specials.

The price per person – $227 for two in a room, $194 for triple occupancy and $177 for four in a room – covers two nights of lodging, including tax; a 30-minute spa service; two drink coupons, champagne brunch on Sunday and unlimited access to spa facilities (sauna, whirlpool, Roman baths, steam room, eucalyptus room, fitness center). There also is a swimming pool; for the ambitious, there will be aerobic classes.

For more, call (800) 558-9573 or go to www.OlympiaResort.com.

Too late for this year, but perhaps worth remembering in 2004 is the annual getaway for women at the 260-acre Indian Lakes Resort, west of Chicago, at Bloomingdale, Ill. The distinctive property has a Frank Lloyd Wright style and was created by one of the architect’s students.

This weekend’s “Pow Wow with Your Gal Pals” promotion was $90 per person, per night, based on double occupancy. Taxes are not included.

The fee included a welcoming gift, $30 dining certificate, a wine tasting party, shuttle service to Stratford Square mall and discounts on golfing.

Facilities and amenities are extensive. For more, call (800) 334-3417 or go to www.indianlakesresort.com. Although this is an annual event, we are told that similar getaways sometimes are scheduled during other times of the year.