Entrepreneur Amber Berger, along with her partner Stefanie Ruch, has managed to come up with something truly unexpected, right smack in the middle of the Upper East Side, at 1220 Lexington Avenue, as frantic and busy a thoroughfare as Manhattan has to offer. It's a getaway unlike any we've ever heard of, and Berger was happy to tell us about it.
What is Salhaus? How is it different from other spas?
Salthaus, New York City's first stand-alone modern salt room, is an urban oasis providing salt therapy, a 100 percent natural treatment available to all ages, where you sit and breathe dry, salty air to relax and reset. It’s a social wellness experience that empowers you to feel your best through the power of salt. Salthaus is not a spa, and you come dressed as you are to enjoy salt therapy.
What are the health benefits of breathing “dry salty air?”
You relax in a 20- or 45-minute halo session where the treatment relieves stress and anxiety; strengthens immunity; regulates sleep; improves skin conditions; and enhances athletic recovery and performance
The salt that comes in contact with your skin aids in balancing the skin’s pH and reducing inflammation, which can provide relief for conditions such as eczema, acne, and psoriasis. In addition to the numerous physical benefits, a halo session allows you to de-stress, reset, recharge, and sleep like a baby that night!
Making time for self-care is incredibly important in today’s world, and receiving so many physical, emotional, and social health benefits in one sitting is a unique wellness experience.
How does it work?
The halo rooms at Salthaus recreate the microclimates of the Eastern European salt caves, circulating dry, salty air in each of our two rooms. A machine called a halogenerator grinds pharmaceutical-grade sodium chloride into micro-particles that reach the deepest part of your lungs as you breathe, and absorb any bacteria and pollutants present. This process is anti-inflammatory – benefitting your immune and respiratory systems – and helps alleviate colds, allergies, sinuses or headaches, and asthma.
How did you get the idea for Salthaus?
The first time I experienced salt therapy, I was visiting family and friends in Florida. I had been looking for a wellness treatment that I could enjoy with my entire family, but it wasn’t until I experienced halotherapy that I found what I was looking for. I had never been introduced to – or even heard of – salt therapy until that day, but after one session, I was hooked. I immediately felt others needed to know about this amazing treatment, yet wanted to modernize the experience to make it social and fun. So Salthaus was founded, an “urban oasis” in New York City.
Tell us about your approach to wellness, your personal wellness journey.
I believe we all have the power to improve our health. By living a holistic life and incorporating self-care practices into my daily routine I have learned that I can feel my best. It’s certainly taken trial and error to figure out what works, but as a child I dealt with illnesses that really made me focus on my personal wellness journey forever.
I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and recovering from surgery at 15 when fortunately, my mother discovered the macrobiotic diet. Focusing on my diet and other self-care practices has allowed me to lead a medicine-free and Crohn’s-free life. The effects of proper diaphragmatic breathing were so profound for my stress and sleep issues, it led me to become BREATHE certified. It was during this time that I discovered Salt. When I experienced the benefits of salt therapy, I knew this was just the beginning of the next step in my wellness journey.
Who are your customers?
Typically, our customer is an open-minded individual who wants to feel better. For most customers, salt therapy is new. We are excited about providing an approachable space for people to engage in wellness together. The idea that you can be efficient with your time and experience salt therapy while reading, meeting with a friend or just taking a nap is very appealing to New Yorkers. We love having entire families enjoy our halo sessions together.
How do first-timers respond to the Salthaus experience?
It’s so exciting when clients first experience a halo session at Salthaus. After a session, a lot of first-timers often say they didn’t realize how much they truly needed this moment, and were impressed by how much better they felt in comparison to when they arrived. You feel like you’ve spent three days at the beach after 45 minutes. Even the biggest wellness skeptic walks out surprised feeling this lightness that the salt can bring. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had to gently wake people up when their session is over.
How did you decide to open Salthaus on the Upper East Side?
We love the Upper East Side and knew it would be a great location to cater to both families and young professionals.
As a women-owned business, what opportunities or obstacles have you faced?
It is such an exciting time to be a female-founded business. We have explored wonderful partnerships with many local female founders through the Female Founders Collective and have found an incredibly supportive community.
How concerned are you about the business climate on the Upper East Side, at a time when the city government has actually started an empty storefront census?
It is the people of the community who hopefully will help small businesses in this neighborhood stay vibrant. The current crisis that small businesses on the Upper East Side are facing now is an unfortunate reality that doesn’t look like it will end any time soon. Hopefully, alongside the work being done by Council Member Helen Rosenthal and others, we can gain more information to understand the depth of this crisis. We have met so many wonderful people in the community who love that we opened on the Upper East Side last year. Come experience Salt Therapy and shop local!