Salt spa intended to be place of comfort, peace
By Joshua Maloni
A new healthy living and wellness center is coming to the Village of Lewiston in March.
Architect Jim Fittante and his fiancé, Cheryl Krouse, are taking over the property at 700 Center St., which was recently the 700 Café & Bistro. They are converting the three-room first floor into Samana Salt Spa.
“We’ll have the salt therapy room, and we’re also going to have massage therapy and yoga and education classes, wellness classes,” Krouse said.
For those unfamiliar, “A salt room, or salt spa, or salt cave – it’s all meaning the same thing – you are in a room that has what’s called a halo generator,” Krouse said. “It crushes salt down into little, teeny, tiny molecules – molecules that you can inhale – and it’s really good for your respiratory system. It’s really good for your skin. And it just overall can help with a lot of different things.”
Wellness services at Samana Salt Spa will include health coaching, yoga, massage therapy and reiki. The company brochure states salt therapy can benefit individuals with allergies/hay fever; asthma; chronic bronchitis; COPD; cough, cold and flu; cystic fibrosis; ear infections; emphysema; psoriasis, eczema and acne; sinus infection/sinusitis; snoring and sleeping problems; and stress, anxiety and fatigue.
“It’s a complementary therapy,” Krouse said. “We’re not saying we can cure anything or treat anything. It’s just in addition to what you’re already doing.
“I just know that it’s helped my allergies and asthma.”
Both Krouse and Fittante said clients should consult with a doctor before beginning treatments. She said salt therapy is appropriate for any age.
Fittante said the product used is “a pure-grade pharmaceutical salt, not Himalayan in the halogenerator. All our healthy products, such as soaps, oils and scrubs, will have Himalayan salt in them. Also our décor, salt wall and lamps, will have Himalayan salt.”
Krouse added, “The halogenerator uses pharmaceutical-grade sodium, chloride-harvested to eliminate all the trace elements, minerals and debris, so you are left with 99.99 percent pure sodium chloride. This makes it safe to breathe into the lungs for good respiratory hygiene.”
“You do not need any kind of special licensure,” to provide salt spa services, Krouse said. “We do have a company that we’re working with that does specialized training on how to make sure that you’re doing it right.
“I’m also a licensed massage therapist and a registered yoga teacher. I’ve got a lot of the education and certification background. And we’re working with the Salt Therapy Association, which is kind of the governing body. So, we’re hoping to be right on the cutting-edge of the design, the creation – all of that – for safety and regulation.”
Jim Fittante and Cheryl Krouse stand in front of 700 Center St., a site they will soon transform into Samana Salt Spa. In addition to this endeavor, he operates Fittante Architecture PC, while she runs a grant-funded position with the Niagara County Department of Mental Health.
Krouse previously operated Mother Earth Studio in Lockport, where she offered yoga, massage and wellness classes. From there, she moved into a corporate wellness position with an insurance company.
Unhappy working in that world, Krouse went back to school to earn a master’s degree in cardiopulmonary rehab. “That got me a little bit deeper involved into the breathing mechanism, and how to heal the body, kind of from within. That got me interested in this,” she said.
Fittante explained, “I have asthma, and that’s what’s got me very interested in (salt spa treatments). My one daughter also has asthma. We’re going to document how well it works with me.”
“We have a couple of case studies,” Krouse said. “(Jim’s) mom went through cancer. She’s excited to come. My mom has pretty severe eczema and psoriasis, and this also helps skin conditions. We want to kind of document and do our own case studies to see if we can help to kind of prove the point and the efficacy of everything.
Samana Salt Spa will be divided into three parts: The first room – next to the patio – will be a welcome area and retail spot. The middle room is where people will receive salt therapy. The third room is set to have areas for VIP and one-on-one treatments, as well as a family section where moms and dads receiving a service can bring their children (ages 8-10) for free.
When patrons enter Samana Salt Spa, they will see “Some beautiful salt brick panels and things like that; Himalayan salt lamps and whatnot. But those are just kind of for eye aesthetics,” Krouse said. “When people come in, they’ll sit down. We’ve got beautiful leather reclining chairs. They’ll sit in there; it’ll be nice and quiet; probably music playing in the background. And then the halo generator gets turned on. They chill for about 45 minutes. And then they come out, and that’s it.
“So, they’re breathing in all of this goodness. It’s nice and relaxed. It kind of unplugs them from the real world and then plops them into kind of serenity. And then hopefully they take a little bit of that back with them when they go back out.”
Samana Salt Spa salt room rendering by Fittante Architecture PC.
The Buddhist word “samana,” Krouse said, “It means a person who abandons the conventional obligations of social life to find a more in-tune, which means samana, with the ways of nature.
“Everyone’s so busy all the time, and we don’t really give our bodies time to just heal and to rest. So, we’re trying to give them a place to do that, and to learn.”
“I’m really, really keen on the education and the science,” Krouse added, “And I love the way that the body works and things like that. I’m a little bit of a geeky nerd that way. But I think we can bring in the education voice, so people can understand what it is we’re doing – instead of ‘It’s just a fad, and we’ve got some cool stuff on the walls.’ It’s a little deeper than that.”
Krouse said Samana Salt Spa is a perfect fit for the village.
“I grew up in Lockport, but I had never been to Lewiston. Basically everything I ever did was out that way. And I came here with my daughters one time, and that was it. I said, ‘I’m moving there.’ And my parents thought that I was crazy. I said, ‘No.’ It has just great energy,” she said. “I looked into the school district – really good school district. We moved here, and that was it.
“I just really wanted to recreate wellness here, because I think that this environment is conducive to that. I think we got a lot of people walking their dogs and out and about. It’s busy – you know, when we don’t have so much snow. And I really thought a lot of people would enjoy it.”
The base price for a salt therapy session is $45 for 45 minutes. Students and seniors (ages 65 and up) will receive a $10 discount. Krouse said she’s looking into whether or not insurance companies will cover the cost of a treatment.
Corporate and special event packages also will be offered. Fittante said no food will be made on site.
“We want to be a part of the village” and not compete with other eateries, he said. “We already have had conversations with the Orange Cat to supply a coffee and herbal teas for our clients. And then we’ve reached out to a couple of the local restaurants to provide us with catering menus for our events and training sessions and corporate sessions. It might be a bachelorette party or a baby shower. We want to incorporate it with the salt spa packages.”
Samana Salt Spa will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, and by appointment. For more information, call 998-6520.
About a decade ago, 700 Center was home to Amy K’s Mystick Boutique. The property was renovated and expanded before Barbara Crouthamel opened Lovin’ My Bags there in 2013. She would expand the business to offer organic skin care and yoga classes. Crouthamel added a juice bar, and then opened the café in 2015.
News broke recently of Crouthamel’s departure. She said she enjoyed her time working in Lewiston, but is now looking forward to an interior design career.
The Samana Salt Spa logo is a “living tree” with six branches – one for Fittante, one for Krouse, and two each for their respective children: Kiarra, Emily, Rhiannon and Paige.