I was one of the lucky ones to get the flu this winter season. I hope you were not! Although I felt better, I still had a lingering hacking cough that just wouldn't go away...
We have been traveling to Williamsburg, Virginia every winter for the past 5-6 years and had heard about the Williamsburg Salt Spa before. I was intrigued, but never managed to schedule a visit into one of our trips. However, with my lingering coughing fits this year, I knew a visit during our trip was in order!
It is not just the inviting and relaxing ambiance that makes Williamsburg Salt Spa what it is -
It is believed that thousands of years ago, people used caverns for therapeutic purposes. In 1843, Doctor Felix Boczkowski formulated that the presence of the air in the salt mines in Wieliczka in Poland had healing effects on people with pulmonary and respiratory problems because the air was saturated with dry salt particles. When salt miners rarely seemed to come down with a cold or flu, the Polish Physician took notice. He linked the worker’s health to the salt environment and began treating his respiratory patients by sending them into the salt mine to breathe this therapeutic microclimate. His approach showed tremendous health improvements in his patients. Shortly after his findings, therapy centers in other natural salt mines/salt caves around Europe were opened and are still operating today. One of the most famous salt mines is the Wieliczka Salt Mine, located in Wieliczka, Poland.
It is the unique microclimate of clean, unpolluted and allergen free air that supports healing. Most caverns that are being used today for therapeutic purposes are old mines where salt was mined in the past. In Germany alone, there are 12 mines that are currently used for Salt Therapy. Today, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is still operating as the largest Underground Rehabilitation and Treatment Center.
Modeled after the original Wieliczka Salt Mine, the Williamsburg Salt Spa was the first Salt Cave on the East Coast in 2008. They have imported over 15 tons of therapeutic salt from Poland and the Himalayas in order to create a unique microclimate rich in healing minerals that are essential to life - such as, Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Bromine and Iodine. These are just some of the micro-elements whose shortage in the human body can lead to both physical and mental problems.
How does it work?
Salt Therapy is known as "Halotherapy". A 45 minute therapeutic halotherapy session promises to help improve your health by breathing air that is saturated with these beneficial minerals. The air temperature inside the Salt Room is 75 F and the humidity is between 40-50%. The salt particles are small enough to enter even the smallest parts of the lungs. There, in the deepest part of the lungs, salt acts as anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterium, cleaning the respiratory system of inflammation, opening up the sinuses and enabling better breathing.
Anyone suffering from the following conditions will benefit from Salt Therapy:
Chronic or temporary respiratory tract inflammations
Weakened immune system
Does It Really Work?
Now that there are more than 200 Salt Caves across the country, you don't have to look very far to find raving fans. Many have reported that they were able to throw out their inhalers and allergy medications after a series of Salt Therapy sessions.
As for my personal experience - about 10 minutes in I began that deep hacking cough and got a little worried that it might not work. However, by 30 minutes in, my cough had become productive! By the end of the 45 minute session, I was able to take deep breaths without coughing! It was the first time in 3 weeks that I did not need to use my inhaler. The effects lasted for the remainder of the day! So, now I am a believer!
What To Expect At Your Visit
The Williamsburg Salt Spa offers 45 minute private Halotherapy sessions (up to 8 people) for fee of $120 or you can join one of the public sessions for just $25. Be sure to check your hotel coupons for $2.50 off!
Since I was there on a weekday in the middle of the slow season, I was the only Halotherapy guest and enjoyed having the whole Cave to myself!
When you arrive, you'll slip off your shoes and slip on the protective booties over your socks (salt can be damaging to shoes). Then, you'll be led into the Salt Cave to begin your relaxing therapeutic Halotherapy session. The man-made Cave has tons of salt all over the ground and all the way up the walls. The soft lighting is beautiful and relaxing from the glowing salt lamps scattered throughout the Cave walls giving a warm pink/orange glow. You'll ease into one of the comfy gravity recliners and let the outside world fade away. Corner chairs are preferable as the natural graduation tower fountains behind them flow with saline water providing soothing sounds of the ocean.
Williamsburg Salt Spa offers more than just Halotherapy - you can also get a hot rock massage, deep tissue massage, or float in a salt tank! You can even book your private massage in the Salt Cave - what a way to relax all while experiencing the benefits of breathing in the healing salty air!
Float photo above courtesy of the Williamsburg Salt Spa
Before you check out, be sure to check out the small retail shop in the front of the Spa. The shop offers items made of himalayan salt, such as a variety of bath salts, soaps, and salt blocks for cooking. As well, as a variety of Himalayan salt lamps in the cutest shapes of animals, flowers, and other natural shapes. I bought a salt lamp for its air purifying and mood improving benefits.
I really enjoyed my visit to the Williamsburg Salt Spa! I'd highly recommend it if you are prone to respiratory issues. But, I think anyone would enjoy the unique experience. They have beautiful relaxing massage rooms and offer a discounted Halotherapy session after any massage.
I will definitely make sure to return to the Salt Spa during our annual trips to Williamsburg!
I enjoyed the results of the Halotherapy so much so that I recommended the treatment to my Dad and Mother-In-Law who are both suffering from that same lingering cough. I also researched Salt Caves in the Mid-Atlantic so I can incorporate regular visits into my self-care routine and found one down the street from me in my hometown of Bethesda, MD!
Schedule a Cave visit at your next vacation spot or rainy day!
I have gathered a list of some of the top-rated Salt Caves in the Mid-Atlantic below -
Salt Cove - Wilmington, DE
Bethesda Salt Cave - Bethesda, MD
Tranquility Salon & Wellness Center Salt Cave - Carlisle, PA
Simply Health Wellness Center Salt Spa - State College, PA
Peace, Love, & Zen Wellness Center - Pittsburgh, PA
Aria Yoga & Wellness Center - Sterling, VA
Williamsburg Salt Spa - Williamsburg, VA
Bruceton Wellness Center Salt Cave - Bruceton Mills, WV
The Salt Cave and Spa - White Sulphur Springs, WV
This is not a complete list - more and more Salt Spas and Caves are popping up, so check if there is one in your area!
TIP: Be sure to check Groupon before you go - I found a great deal for the Bethesda, MD Salt Cave and my parents found a Groupon for their local Salt Cave in Naples, FL!
Have you ever been to a Salt Cave?