White Lotus

saunaThe White Lotus Wellness Center is a new Downtown Santa Cruz gem—or at least it will be, someday, once it has a chance to settle in.

The itsy spa has only been open in its new location for a few weeks (it was formerly a one-room operation in Capitola), and is still pretty barebones. It’s located in an unassuming office building near the San Lorenzo River and the interior is sparse and unfinished. The space is more akin to an accounting office than a day spa (for instance, it has carpet flooring instead of wood or stone), but don’t be fooled by the modest façade—the services are relaxing and effective, and the owner, Danielle Kriege, makes it a lovely and special experience for every customer.

I recently partook in an hour-long session in the spa’s infrared sauna ($35) and Kriege’s “Signature Facial” ($95, also an hour) and was delighted with both. Each was a first for me: I’ve (gasp!) never had a professional facial and wasn’t sure just what to expect, and, while I sweat my booty off in a sauna any chance I get, I’d never tried the dry, infrared variety.

Because the infrared sauna is set to a lower temperature than its typical steam counterpart (a cool 150 degrees), it’s possible to stay in longer, making for a long, meditative and detoxifying activity. Kriege (an absolute doll) warned me that it takes most people 15 to 20 minutes to start sweating, but that it’s then a deluge of perspiration. She was right. Luckily, she’d also provided a cold, wet towel for patting down and chilled water—both nice touches. To aid in zenning out, tranquil music plays from inside the sauna and colored lights (each corresponding to a different chakra) provide “light therapy.” I ended my session relaxed, but wishing the center had a shower I could rinse off in (it doesn’t). Still, the experience was bliss inducing and I was a happy camper. I didn’t know it at the time, but I also burned around 350 calories while sitting in that small, wooden contraption—the average amount burned while using an infrared sauna.

Next up was the signature facial, which proved to be as good for my elevated stress levels as it was for my skin. Kriege incorporated light energy work (she’s a master reiki practitioner infootbath addition to being a licensed esthetician) and massage into the treatment, which included a steam, hot towels and several rounds of masks. The Shira Shir-Organics products she used smelled great and made my skin smooth, soft and dewy. She was extremely knowledgeable about everything from the products she used and why to the more scientific aspects of skin. In addition to a new glow, I walked away with some useful new skincare tips for my arsenal.      

All of White Lotus’ services aim to help customers in detoxing, relaxing and re-energizing, and I felt a thorough boost in all three categories after my visit. Those looking to detox should also be sure to check out the spa’s “Ion Detox Foot Spa” ($45), a footbath that sends a current through the body and leeches toxins out through the pores on the soles of our feet. (Be warned: first time users will often see the water turn black or brown as the toxins hit the water.)

Although White Lotus has some kinks to work out and setting up shop to do, the spa has fabulous services to offer and a stellar level of customer service that is sure to make it a local favorite.

White Lotus Wellness Center, 305A Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, whitelotuswellness.com.

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