After a month of great skiing but also freezing my ass off in New Zealand, I came across an advertisement for Salt Float Spa. It looked hot and steamy; exactly what this chilled-to-the-bone soul needed. Seriously, the damp cold here was taking a toll on my spirits! It is a short walk from downtown Queenstown and despite having an easy online reservation system; they also take walk-ins which worked great for me.
What exactly is a Salt Float? This is a spa treatment where you float in ultra-buoyant water that is substantially diluted with Epson salt. The first time I heard about Epson salt was when my sister accidentally used it to season our salmon dinner . Ooops! It wasn’t poisonous, but it usually isn’t used for cooking. Instead, Epson salt has a variety of health and beauty benefits: like removing toxins from the body, improving muscle functioning, decreasing stress, and exfoliating the skin. This can be a great activity for anyone hitting the slopes regularly because it restores muscle damage caused by all that shredding and can de-stank feet spent in sweating in tight boots. Lucky for us, there are a growing number of these Float Spas around the world, especially near mountain resorts.
First Impressions: The check-in process was fairly simple; I tapped my info into an iPad and was ready to go. The receptionist was pleasant and informed me that since I didn’t have a reservation it would take just a few minutes to get my chamber prepared. I was in no hurry, so this worked for me. If your schedule is a little tight, just book one of their four soak rooms online.
I chose just a single soak, but they have multi-soak or soak & message packages that offer great deals! Once I settled up, the receptionist brought me to the change room. Here, there were two changing stalls with funky black faux-sheepskin mats, black robes, and black slippers. I found the décor of the place fitting for the dark short days of Queenstown, NZ winters.
Next, I was invited into the relaxation room. Here I found reclined seats, dim lighting, the relaxing sounds of Native American music, and a large accent wall that gave the impression of facing one of the many beautiful forests in this area. This space is open to guests both before and after their soak, so if you are able to, I recommend budgeting a little extra time to take advantage of this calming space. Additionally, I found a range of beverages here (four types of tea, water, and hydration shots) to keep me fully hydrated. I was too afraid to try one beforehand, because I didn’t want to have to, you know, go when I was soaking.
Instructions: When my hydration chamber was ready, the receptionist brought me to my private room. Behind the sliding door was the ‘Dreampod.’
This is a glossy plastic, bean-shaped thing that took up most of the space in the room. There was also a shower with the necessary amenities to complete the service. The receptionist highlighted the important details like: shower beforehand, only use conditioner afterwards, and her recommendation to not use hot water for the pre-rinse because that would make the soak water feel cooler. Towels, hair ties, and ear plugs are also available. Next, she opened the pod and I could feel the warmth of the pod immediately. They are normally set at body temperature (35 degrees Celsius), but because I had requested it to be slightly warmer (remember I’m freezing here!) they had it set to 36.5 degrees Celsius for me. She pointed out the button that I should push when I was ready to start the 60 minute session and the button for turning on and off the interior light. There was also a spritzer bottle of fresh water in case salt water got into my eyes.
The receptionist asked if I had any further questions then let me to it. I locked the door and followed her shower instructions (ear plugs in, warm water only, no conditioner). Then I was ready to hop in.
Experience: After taking what was probably a cooler than necessary shower (I truly feared feeling cold throughout the duration of the 60 minutes soak), the Dreampod water felt plenty warm. My first inclination was to throw water up onto my face like women in a face wash commercial. (I want to know who cleans all the water that inevitably falls all on the floor behind them.) I should have resisted because immediately I realized this was a mistake.
The water has 450kg of Epson salt dissolved into it. My eyes stung like the begezus! With my eyes shut I felt around for the water bottle and doused my face, then doused my hand, then doused the other hand while I tried to rub the salt water away from my eye. Whew…
Not the relaxing start I had been working toward, but now I was finally ready to soak. I hit the button on my right as instructed and then 10 minutes of relaxing new age music started as a sign the session had begun. I was surprised as how easy it was to float. Although unnecessary, I opted for the floating, foam ring that worked like a pillow to help my head float just a little bit higher. (I’d like to think the ol’ dome is so heavy from all my brains!) I turned off the light that had been smoothly transforming from blue, to purple, to red, to yellow and sat with my thoughts and the relaxation music. Then it was silence and just my thoughts.
I’m not sure what one is supposed to feel in a sensory deprivation tank. Nothing I guess. But my mind wouldn’t quite commit to nothing. Instead, I thought about how my ear plugs were slowing falling out. Later I realized that took nearly 24 hours to get my inner ears uncovered of salt (plus warm water from a showerhead directed into my ear, several yoga sequences of forward folds, and a couple rounds of Q-tipping)!
I did some quirky floating-on-water moves, because it was fun being so buoyant. I never got cold, but I did notice that the parts of my body that floated above water (namely my torso) were never really warm. But that was easy to fix by gently using my hands to move water over me.
Afterward my 60-minute soak, I took advantage of the relaxation room, again. This time treating myself to a hydration shot and some peppermint tea. Then I used the hairdryer, q-tips, and heavenly lotion from the change room to get myself ready to face the cold elements of winter again. (They also had hair spray and a straightener that I didn’t use.)
Afterthoughts: All in all, it was an interesting experience. I don’t know that I felt the immediate benefits noted on their website (and there are many!), but then again I couldn’t get my mind to stop racing. The day after, I noticed my skin felt especially soft and my energy levels seem elevated. That said, I’m feeling pretty excited about other things coming up right now which also may have contributed to my energy levels.
As part of my commitment to Protect our Winters (POW) I’m giving this place ❄️❄️❄️ for not having any single-use plastic (that I could see). They used glass and ceramics for their drinks in the relaxation room. Their toiletry items were either in refillable ceramic pump bottles or an aluminum container. Even the soak itself used industry standard sanitization methods, therefore the Epsom salt and water aren’t wasted on me alone. Thank you Salt Float Spa for choosing wisely! If you’re wondering what this is all about: check out my page explaining the Snowflake rating system in promoting POW.