Waterstone Spa - Ashland Springs Hotel

Taking the Waters

Waterstone Spa is under new ownership this year, but the Ashland getaway remains true to its name.

"We've always wanted to celebrate the waters," says Becky Neuman, co-owner of Ashland Springs Hotel, which drew the nearby spa under its umbrella in January.

Acquiring the spa returns the 85-year-old hotel to its origins as a destination for "taking the waters." When Lithia Springs Hotel opened on the downtown Ashland site in 1925, guests could choose between four different mineral waters, including the town's famed lithia water — thought to possess healing properties — to fill their baths.

That luxury drained away as the hotel changed hands through the last century. But hands-on spa treatments can promote healing as Ashland Springs promotes itself as a destination for health and well-being.

"It's more than just being pampered," Neuman says, adding that she believes spa visits really do improve health.

"It's an oasis."

A soothing color palette of peach, melon and robin's-egg blue reflect redecorating and remodeling efforts to marry the hotel's identity with the spa's. Visitors find the same towels, wicker furniture and framed, floral-specimen prints that adorn the hotel, just across First Street. A freestanding pedestal tub in the spa's private soaking room evokes early-20th-century elegance.

"The whole idea of the hotel was taking us back to a simpler time," Neuman says.

Spending a day at the spa got simpler for hotel guests, who can charge treatments and products to their rooms. Waterstone already enjoyed status as Ashland Springs' preferred spa but existed as a separate entity until owner and co-founder Deb Cleland approached Neuman and husband, Doug Neuman, last fall about buying her business. With dwindling resources, Cleland says she feared she couldn't keep the six-year-old spa open through winter.

It was a welcome proposition, says Becky Neuman, who with her husband already owned the spa's location, the Citizen Bank Building. The Neumans purchased and refurbished the neighboring property around the same time as their 1998 acquisition of the hotel.

"My dream has always been to have a salon and spa connected with the hotel," says Becky Neuman.

In fact, the Neumans courted a spa to occupy the building shortly after their hotel's 2000 debut. Ashland Springs Spa operated for just a couple years before Cleland and partner Deanne Anderson took over as Waterstone, renting from the Neumans.

"We've always had great comments about what they do," says Karolina Wyszynska, the hotel's director of sales and marketing.

So Waterstone kept its menu of spa treatments, which include massage, reflexology, facials, waxing and body scrubs, wraps and polishes. Prices run from $55 for an express facial to $450 for the two-and-a-half-hour "royal treatment." For an additional charge, lunch and snacks from the hotel's full-service restaurant, Larks Home Kitchen Cuisine, are served in the spa's solarium.

The 2,500-square-foot spa also incorporates a sauna, steam room, Vichy shower, three single treatment rooms and a side-by-side treatment room, as well as a duet suite with a two-person, circular soaking tub and private sauna — accommodations appealing not only to couples.

"We're seeing so many girlfriends, moms and daughters," says Cleland, who stayed on as spa manager.

Bridal parties are expected frequently as spa customers, says Wyszynska, adding that Ashland Springs Hotel now can add spa services to its popular wedding packages, which offer full catering, the cake, Champagne and lodging for bridal couples. The hotel hosts about 60 ceremonies a year, she says.

A new salon located just a floor below the second-story spa also should prove popular for nuptials, Wyszynska says. Set to open this month, the salon was resurrected on the former site of a boutique to boast modern amenities in a genteel decor, including hair stations designed to resemble old-fashioned dressing tables.

Waterstone's manicures and pedicures will move downstairs to the salon and — under Neuman's direction — will offer customers the option of vegan, formaldehyde-free nail products. True to the hotel's natural, organic ethic — particularly evident at Larks — Waterstone uses and sells all-natural, locally made hair- and body-care products, including Ashland's Buddha Blends and another brand that incorporates wine and grapes in its formulas.

"I'm really looking forward to promoting these products that will take people into a more natural lifestyle," Neuman says. "I want to create product."

The Neumans' rural Ashland residence — home to an organic apple orchard — already produces flowers for the hotel's decorative arrangements, lavender for its signature sachets and some culinary herbs for use in Larks restaurant. Moving toward sustainability and direct-farm sources for restaurant produce, the Neumans planted a larger plot of herbs to harvest this year.

"We really wanted to kind of continue that idea," Neuman says, "of celebrating all things natural."

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