Halotherapy Spa to Use Imported Himalayan Salt

By Eva Potter

“It’s all about breathing … and breathing good air,” said Tracy Draper, owner of the new Ellicottville Salt Cave, which will offer a variety of salt therapy treatments including halotherapy, salt massage and exfoliation treatments.

Draper has been a massage therapist for more than eight years, most at a local spa in Ellicottville. About a year ago, a fork in the road led her to Ashville, N.C., where she was introduced to the concept of halotherapy, the use of salt vapor to treat a variety of physical ailments.

“I thought this would go great in Ellicottville,” she said.

Draper explained that salt caves have been used in Europe for decades dating back to WWII when people hid in the salt caves to escape the bombing.

A German doctor noticed this improvement in health and eventually opened salt caves to treat patients’ respiratory ailments. Now, halotherapy is practiced worldwide.

Feeling that Ellicottville needed to offer more holistic and alternative healing therapies, Draper decided to start her own salt cave spa.

She explained, “Halotherapy is good for the respiratory system. It’s anti-inflammatory, antibacterial. It’s good for allergies, asthma, sinus. It’s calming for inflammation.”

Working with a contractor from Ontario, Canada, Draper’s salt cave room will use imported Himalayan rock salt and include molded salt stalactites. A water feature will use salt rocks containing 84 trace minerals to create the brine to be inhaled.

Describing the 220-square-foot cave room, Draper said there will be 3 inches of salt on the floor and salt rocks will cover the walls. Visitors will be required to remove their shoes and wear paper booties. The cave temperature will be maintained at a comfortable 70 degrees with 50 percent humidity.

Gravity chairs, soothing fiber optic lights and relaxing Zen music will help you de-stress and detoxify. The room will also be ventilated after each session to bring in clean air. It will be a peaceful place to go and be quiet with your thoughts.

“There won’t be any cell phones, no electronics, no talking. You just go in and you inhale the air and relax,” said Draper.

Appointments will be scheduled on the hour and include 45 minutes of halotherapy. And unlike a massage, there is no need to undress.

But massages will be offered — just not the typical menu at most spas.

Draper’s mini salt cave massage room with provide halotherapy while you enjoy a salt stone massage, which Draper said helps eczema, acne, psoriasis and other skin conditions. You can also choose from a foot salt scrub and salt exfoliant for the back. Couples massages in the main cave may be added in the future.

Draper is looking into purchasing a four-person salt sauna and plans to offer salt lamps, neti pots, a cooking line and other products in her retail area.

Halotherapy benefits have been touted to reduce bronchial inflammation, decrease allergic reactions to pollens, cleanse and sanitize airways, treat colds, improve dermatological conditions and improve sleep.

As her tagline reads, “Step in and Catch Your Breath.”

The spa is located at 32 West Washington Street is set to open sometime this fall.