Back in the day, I was all about taking trips to Mexico and the Dominican Republic with my girlfriends. Now, I’m lucky if I can break away for one afternoon. That’s why I was over the moon with excitement when I discovered Ameristar in St. Charles. I immediately called my girlfriends.
The goal was simple: find a spot with a pool, spa, good food, tasty cocktails, shopping and nightlife. What we stumbled upon exceeded our expectations with the hidden gem Ameristar. Now, I know Ameristar is really no “secret” to St. Louisans…I mean everyone knows it’s there. It’s hard to overlook the glitzy building stationed across the St. Charles river. The reason I call it a “hidden gem” is because of the unexpected surprises offered to visitors. I would have never considered going to a casino for the weekend, but Ameristar is the perfect destination for fun girls getaway with everything you could ever possibly want and need for a stress-free St. Louis staycation.
I’m going to be sharing my experience staying at Ameristar and my top recommendations for a carefree and luxurious getaway. Just grab your girls, your favorite pair of shades, and a bathing suit. Get dad to take the kids on for a couple days and get ready to have some fun. No passport necessary.
Unwind at the Ara Spa
Named by St. Louis Magazine as one of the best spas in Missouri, Ara spa is truly a magical place that creates a personalized experience for each one of its guests. Ara offers VIP treatments, a luxurious steam room, sauna, hydro-pool, fitness center, Vichy Shower, spa boutique and two pools which we’ll touch on in a bit. You don’t have to book a room at the Ameristar in order to enjoy a day at the spa. Just book a treatment, and you’ll have open access to all spa amenities and pool for the entire day.
There are several relaxing treatments to choose from at Ara spa, but I decided to go with the soothing Dream Weaver and Seasonal Body Treatment. The Dream Weaver was a calming 25-minute hot oil head and face massage. The nourishing oils were used to gently massage my forehead, temples, and scalp relieving me of some tension and congestion I was experiencing earlier that week. The oil used contained keratin which is great for dry hair (which I have) and helps to smooth and bring out a healthy shine. A cooling eucalyptus towel was placed on my forehead as well which I learned can easily be made at home when you need a little zen time to decompress. Simply take a clean cool towel and apply 10% oil and 90% water and voila!
Shortly after the dreamy Dream Weaver, I went in for my Seasonal Treatment in the Vichy Shower. The treatment is broken up into three steps. First, you receive a scrub which is like a facial, but for your entire body which is then rinsed with the Vichy’s seven relaxing shower heads. In the second phase, a mask is applied and then covered with a warming blanket. A foot massage is also offered. Finally for the third step, you’ll receive a moisturizing treatment for your whole body. The whole experience took about 50 minutes and was absolutely amazing.
My girlfriends opted for facials and massages. They have so many options.
For lunch at the spa, we had some refreshing champagne, an assortment of fine cheeses, crackers, sausages, fresh fruits, a variety of hummus and veggies with grilled pita, yogurt parfait, a grilled chicken salad and a platter of chocolate covered strawberries and homemade banana bread. We enjoyed our mid-day meal inside the spa and our healthy and delicious treats were delivered by Falcon Diner, one of the many restaurants inside Ameristar.
To make a day out of it, I recommend arriving early before your appointment and utilizing the state of the art fitness facility to squeeze in a little workout before heading into full on relaxation mode. Then, slip into your robe and slippers and unwind in the steam room, sauna or hydrotherapy tubs. You can also sit and relax in their waiting room and chat with friends, read or just decompress with a cold eucalyptus towel. They seriously smell like heaven.
Pamper yourself by the pool
When I first caught glimpse of the Ameristar pool, I thought for a moment that I might be at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. It was as if I had stepped into a European courtyard, only it was hot and I couldn’t wait to catch some rays and sip on some frozen cocktails.
Ameristar offers two gorgeous pools, one indoor and one outdoor and both are heated so that you can treat yourself to a swim rain or shine, summer or fall. There are no kids allowed after 6 pm or on weekends so, if you plan to make this getaway a truly relaxing occasion, worry not. Screaming babies and frequent cannonballs are replaced with adult conversation and tropical beverages. If you’re feeling adventurous and fancy a dip in the deep end, you can jam out to your favorite tunes underwater with the pool’s advanced speaker system or doggy paddle back and forth between the indoor and outdoor sections.
On Sundays, Ameristar hosts something called Liquid Society during summer months which is as big and bougie as it sounds. Liquid Society is essentially a giant Las Vegas-esque pool party where you can hang out with friends and enjoy the pool amenities. It’s fabulous.
If it’s full-on luxury you crave, you can rent a poolside cabana for the day starting at $100 which includes a fridge to store pina coladas, complementary sparkling fruit infused water, and those heavenly eucalyptus towels. You can also order from the spa and pool’s enormous menu with specialty dishes prepared by Chef Josh and Chad who we got to meet on our trip. Some of their most popular items include the Impossible Burger, a 100% vegan treat that’s quickly becoming one of the trendiest modern dishes in the food industry. I am not a vegan and this was just downright delicious. The menu also includes flatbreads, wraps, salads and dessert items. The bar offers lighter bites for poolside snacking. The Fruit Platter drizzled in decadent honey sauce was a favorite of mine as well as their savory Chicken Spinach Salad with homemade strawberry vinaigrette. And what native St. Louisan could pass up Gooey Butter Cake for dessert? Yum!
Stay the night in one of Ameristar’s dreamy hotel rooms
I would highly recommend booking a reservation for one of the casino’s beautiful hotel rooms even for just a night. The standard room is spacious and elegant. Walk in and to the left, you’ll see a full sized bathroom with a tub, shower, double vanities and a TV…yeah a TV in the bathroom to watch your favorite shows while you get ready for a night out! There’s also a living room complete with a mini fridge, cute seating area and a window with full view of the Ara pool. Upon arrival, we were brought bottles of chilled wine and chocolate covered strawberries which was a nice touch.
One of the best reasons to stay a night (or two) at Ameristar is the opportunity to enjoy the sites around St. Charles in the most convenient way. The hotel offers a trolley service which makes several stops around the area including Main Street, St. Charles where you enjoy a day of shopping and sightseeing around the historic and charming little town. You can also spend a few hours riding bikes on the famous Katy Trail if you’re looking for a little outdoor fun. Across the highway, there’s a movie theater and tons of restaurants and boutiques at the Streets of St. Charles. You’ll never run out of things to do!
Wine (or sake) and dine in one of Ameristar’s fabulous restaurants
I cannot begin to tell you how impressed I was with the dining options at Ameristar. Everything was simply exquisite. St. Louis foodies will love the artistry and complexity of each carefully prepared dish. While there are endless delicious options to choose from, I’m going to highlight what I ate on the trip.
To say the chefs at Ameristar are passionate about great food, would be an understatement. Each dish is inventive and modern and incorporates high-quality ingredients that are both locally sourced and nutritious. For our first dinner at Ameristar, we choose Asia, a restaurant that takes you through a culinary excursion with exceptional dishes from all around the far east. Everything from the wok-tossed noodles to the fresh sushi rolls are made authentically. Asia takes pride in their sous chef who spent years mastering his culinary craft in several Asian countries like Japan, China, Korea and Thailand.
We began our trip through Asia with some bubble tea followed by what they call a “Sake Flight” where we were able to sample three different kinds of sake which was super fun. One of their most popular sakes is called The Wandering Poet. I preferred a smooth blend called The Snow Maiden which incorporated a unique and flavorful combination of honey dew and pumpkin. We then moved on to some tasty appetizers. From their extensive menu, we opted for the famous must try Wonton Wrappers, Crab Rangoon and Eel Sushi Rolls. For our main entrees, we went with Hong Kong Noodle Lemongrass Chicken, Szechaun Style Beef, Salt and Pepper Shrimp and a sea bass dish that looked like a piece of art on a plate. We were offered warm hand towels before and after our incredible meal and the atmosphere and ambience was both pleasant and exciting.
Side note on Asia: The restaurant is open until 2am on weekends so if you’re looking for a five star quality meal late at night, this is the place to go!
Start your day right with a memorable breakfast at Falcon Diner
As a busy working mom who spends most of her mornings sipping a smoothie on the go, indulging in a big breakfast is a real treat for me. The Falcon Diner offered more than just great grub. It was an experience. This isn’t your typical side of the road pit-stop. It is a bit retro, but it’s elevated and somewhat elegant in both its chic Art-Deco interiors and presentation of food. We were excited to get a visit with Chef Chad.
We decided to go all out with the Chicken and Waffle Tower which included cheddar bacon waffles, fried chicken, and a yes, you guessed it, a tower of onion rings topped with a sweet bourbon maple syrup. To complement this hearty meal, I also ordered a power bowl (I’m obsessed with granola) and a decadent salted caramel oatmeal brulee. Is your mouth watering yet? While I would have liked to try everything on the menu, I was stuffed to say the least, but their farm fresh quiche and loaded skillets definitely caught my eye.
Chef Chad stopped by our table for a quick chat where he made sure that we were having a great time. With mouths stuffed with bourbon maple waffles, we simply smiled and nodded our heads in delighted appreciation. Chad’s determined to make every visitor’s experience memorable and I don’t think he needs to worry.
If you’re looking for a place within driving distance of St. Louis where you can just get away for a bit, Ameristar is the destination for you. It’s Disneyland for adults combining three of my favorite things: amazing food, shopping and relaxing with friends! You can also make it a romantic getaway for two. It’s a great way to vacation without getting on a plane or dropping thousands of dollars on a Mexico beach trip. My younger globe-trotting self is nodding in approval. I was able to save more money and enjoy myself without the guilt of being away for too long from my kids.
***I was thrilled to partner with Ameristar on this post but all thoughts and opinions are my own.