The Salt Room Lady Lake in the News

We always love it when people sing our praises. Below, you'll find just some of the articles featuring The Salt Room Lady Lake. Check back for more from time to time to stay updated on everything new. 


Pulse Magazine

It’s a given. The mother protects the child. That’s all there is to it. When the chips are down, bet on the mother to do the right thing.

Rebecca James, the mother, did the right thing for Reilly, the son, and it led to a lot more than she had expected.Here’s the story.

When Reilly was about two and a half years old, doctors told Rebecca that his allergies were so severe that he was pre-asthmatic and was prescribed an albuterol inhaler,
used to clear breathing passages.

There was no guarantee. His condition could worsen and Reilly would face a long-term dependency on the inhaler.

Too young to understand, but struggling to breathe, Reilly started full-blown kicking, screaming fights every time he needed to use a nebulizer, which must have seemed like a torture device. Rebecca did understand and was very worried about the long-term drug side effects.

She remembers being in Walgreens picking up another prescription, tears in her eyes, wondering what she was doing to her child. How could she truly help him? She did not have that answer, but she knew that medication was not it. Something had to change.

The change occurred when she discovered that a childhood friend of hers was owner of The Salt Room in
Winter Park. After a little research into the benefits of salt therapy, and without other options, Rebecca decided to try it out. Reilly had nothing to lose.

Reilly took to the play-therapy approach right away. Digging in the salt and playing with his toys for 45 minutes three times a week, wasn’t therapy to him. Three sessions soon became two. His congestion turned to a thin loose fluid. Gone was the dreaded nebulizer. Colds did not debilitate him. Rebecca saw that he was progressing toward a boy’s life without respiratory medication.

The mother had protected her child.

The work with Reilly gave Rebecca another idea. She was in the midst of family changes and a move to Mount Dora with Reilly, and she was looking for a new direction professionally. Her experience with The Salt Room certainly was a success story. She thought – Why not open a Salt Room of my own? Why not use Reilly’s improvement as a model for others and do something good – that works?

Initial reactions to her idea by friends and family were less than enthusiastic. It seemed that salt therapy was not something people in Central Florida were familiar with. Then there were the issues of funding, time, physical location, how to market a new idea – hurdle after hurdle after hurdle.
“Everyone I talked with thought I was crazy,” said Rebecca. “And there were times when I thought I was crazy.”

Because of population density, the Orlando area was Rebecca’s initial focus for a location. Some things, however, just don’t work the way you think they will and “forces” lead you in a different direction. That different direction was toward The Villages where Rebecca found lease space in Lady Lake, and on May 15, 2012, she opened The Salt Room @ The Villages.

The design and décor of The Salt Room is a result of the team effort of Rebecca and her key staffers – Karen Wagner and Stephanie Omura. You enter into a light, soft environment that immediately relaxes your mood, a key ingredient for a successful “salt session.”

No cell phones or electronic devices are permitted – readers excepted. You leave the pace of your hectic life behind and spend a solid 45 minutes in a zero gravity reclining chair, soft music, softer lights, deep breathing and salt vapors permeating your being.

Rebecca also knew she needed more than just a place to come and breathe salt. Her plans called for a spa center – a spot where people could also enjoy a massage, Reiki, acupuncture or a facial. She wanted an environment where friends could gather for a spa party, complete with wine and hors d’oeuvres.

Rebecca’s success in her first venture is due to hard work and long hours, to be sure. But it’s also a case of success breeding success, and nothing travels faster than word-of-mouth success stories, like:
• COPD sufferers who can leave their oxygen at home while they enjoy a round of golf, will tell
everyone. And they have been doing that.
• The woman who lost all sense of taste because of her allergies, who hasn’t tasted food for five years, told everyone how good her last Christmas dinner was – because she could taste it.
• A sax player with diminished lung capacity had lost a part of his life – his love – because he could no longer play his sax. That’s no longer the case. And he tells everyone he knows.

The mother who found an answer for her son also found answers for others. Now she is looking for other Lake County locations. For Rebecca James – and Reilly – The Salt Room is a place where you can leave the world behind, relax, and breathe your way to better respiratory health.

The Salt Room @ The Villages is located at 480 North Highway 27/441 in Lady Lake. For more information, call 352.750.9909 or visit


Orlando’s We Care—written by Kevin Fritz

The Healing Effects of Salt

Lying back on the padded chaise among the salt encrusted walls and ceiling of the Relaxation Room, I was told I would need at least 20 minutes to experience the therapy the salt room could offer. Being one who has trouble relaxing, I wondered how long I would last as I walked across the salty, granular floor and positioned myself on the chair as the lights went down and the Zen influenced music began to play deep in the background. Suddenly the light returned and the door opened. For some reason my therapy was being halted, I surmised. Hardly. I had fallen asleep.

Now, if you have never been in a salt room, also called a halochamber, or undergone any type of halotherapy, you are not alone. In fact Orlando, Fla., boasts one of only about 10 such businesses in the country. Long-trusted as a way to fight bacteria and soothe the respiratory system in Europe since the 1800s, it has been slow to catch on in the United States, but is beginning to finally get some legs.

Here’s how it works: Pharmaceutical salt is added to a halogenerator, which turns the salt into microscopic particles and pumps it into the air. The dry salt aerosol is passively inhaled and acts as a natural disinfectant, clearing mucus
and improving breathing and relieving symptoms caused by every thing from allergies to bronchitis. And it’s safe for children as well as adults. Moreover, The New England Journal of Medicine says salt therapy is an inexpensive, safe, and effective complementary therapy for patients with cystic fibrosis.

The Salt Room in Orlando opened on February 1, and is owned by Ashley Lewless and Marines Hoppes, who acts as director of day today operations. They were inspired by Lewless’ father-in-law who lives in the Bahamas and believes wholeheartedly in the healing effects of salt. He offered seed money and encouraged his daughter-in-law and Hoppes to open a salt therapy business in Florida.

“Florida is in the top five states with high mold and pollen counts,” notes Lewless about their decision to open The Salt Room in their home state. “And like Chinese herbs and acupuncture, the timing seems to be right for alternative therapy. People are more open to it.” Hoppes adds the recession really changed how people feel about their lives, with health becoming more important than material possessions.

Still, the hardest thing is educating the masses on the healing effects of salt therapy. “I’d say 80 percent of the people don’t even know about halotherapy,” notes Lewless, which she explains gets its name from the Greek word halo, meaning salt. Lewless estimates the number of halotherapy centers will grow quickly when insurance companies begin to cover the treatment. Similar treatment is already covered in Canada. Knowing the therapy is out-of-pocket, The Salt Room has reasonably priced its treatments: Two sessions of halotherapy for as little as $45 does wonders for people suffering from asthma, allergies, emphysema or bronchitis.

“It’s a wellness type of business,” adds Lewless. “The treatment is really prevention and complementary medicine.” Beyond the reality that alternative-type therapies are catching on, it was the halogenerator invented just seven years ago that made it possible to bring this type of treatment to the masses. The first generator appeared in Naples, Fla., last year.

“It is drug free and there are no side effects,” says Lewless. “It offers instant relief, and it’s a natural expectorant.” In fact, she says many people hear their ears popping during their first visit. But what about drying
out your skin? Au contraire, Lewless adds, noting it actually helps your largest organ by improving acne,psoriasis and neurodermatitis.

Located in a row of medical offices on North Mills Avenue, The Salt Room is in reality three rooms, which are not unlike caves: The Relaxation Room where I fell asleep; the Children’s Room complete with indoor playground equipment and safe for kids as young as six months old; and the Yoga Room, where you can get your therapy while taking your yoga class.

Each room offers the same halotherapy, and while there may be a faint salt smell, it is barely discernible that salt is being pumped into the air around you, helping to heal and adding to the encrustations on all four walls, the ceiling and the granular floor.

The Relaxation Room in particular is an excellent place to de-stress while receiving treatment, and can be rented out for a small office meeting at discounted rates.

“It is very good for men,” adds Hoppes about the Relaxation Room. “They don’t want to go to a spa, but they find they can relax here. It’s not something they are used to experiencing.”

Lewless, who was born and raised in Winter Park, Fla., and graduated from the University of Florida, and Hoppes, who was born in Puerto Rico, but has lived in the Orlando area since she was a teenager and graduated from the University of Central Florida as an environmental engineer, are sincere about helping and healing the locals they have grown up with over the years.

“We both live and play in this community,” says Hoppes. “We feel like we are giving something back. And when one person feels well, they’ll spread the word.”


Orlando Home & Leisure—written by Leigh Duncan

Each breath is a struggle for 22-year-old Katelyn Tinsley. She has cystic fibrosis, an inexorable, hereditary disease that attacks the lungs and the digestive system. While awaiting a lung transplant, she requires constant oxygenation and an array of medical treatments. That includes one form of therapy that’s the most simple, effective and ageless of all: salt.

Once a week, Tinsley spends 45 minutes breathing air suffused with the curative mineral at The Salt Room in Orlando. It’s one of only a handful of halotherapy spas in the United States, although such facilities have been commonplace in Europe for years. Reported benefits include respiratory cleansing, stress relief and improvemerits in skin conditions. Tinsley had been treated with salt-based inhalation using a nebulizer and decided to try The Salt Room’s more intensive form of the therapy after consulting with her doctor. The results have pleased both of them. ‘After a halotherapy session, I can go four hours without my oxygen tanks; something that was totally unattainable before,” Tinsley says. “At the first sign of a cold, I go in for a session and come out feeling much better.”

“Katelyn responded so well that I’ve allowed a few other interested patients to attend Salt Room halotherapy sessions,” says Dr. Daniel Layish of Central Florida Pulmonary Group and co-director of the Adult Cystic Fibrosis Program in Central Florida. “All of them have reported favorable results.”

Although Layish cautions that there’s “not a large body of supporting scientific evidence in the United States” about the efficacy of salt therapy, he believes it has an advantage over nebulizer treatments, which only treat the lungs. With halotherapy, he says, the sinuses also benefit because salt-infused air is pumped into a room and breathed through the mouth and nose.

Salt’s therapeutic use as a mist and inhalant for skin and breathing disorders goes back to ancient Greece. Hippocrates himself is credited with inventing the centuries-old treatment of breathing in steam from boiling salt water. Ben Franklin drank seawater when he had a cold, claiming it cured him by the following day. In an effort to improve their health, some people move permanently to coastal cities, while others regularly visit oceanfront spas and “healing waters” like those of the Dead Sea.

Medical research into the subject dates back to the 1840s, when Dr. Felix Boczkowski documented the low occurrence of respiratory conditions in Poland’s salt-mine workers. His findings led to a form of treatment called speleotherapy (salt cave therapy).

The strategy at The Salt Room involves controlling and purifying the dosage of salt-infused air, says coowner Ashley Lewless. “Controlled salt therapy actually is cleaner, three times stronger than sea air and free of bacteria and allergens,” she says. An asthma sufferer for 35 years, she spent more than a year investigating the salt therapy abroad before opening The Salt Room.

“Orlando consistently ranks in the top five worst cities for mold and pollen count, with countless allergy sufferers,” says Lewless. ‘After seeing a story about salt therapy on CNN – its benefits and approval abroad – I knew Orlando was the ideal place to bring this concept.”

The Salt Room opened its doors in February. It’s one of only six halotherapy centers in the United States. Others are in Naples, Los Angeles, Boulder and New York City, where Grammy-winning recording artist Shania Twain recently paid multiple visits to a new halo/salt-therapy spa.

Therapy rooms at the facility are covered in Bahamian salt, from the floor to ceiling and walls. A specific concentration of finely ground, microscopic, pharmaceutical-grade rock salt 15 pumped into the air.

Dry saline generators are certified as medical devices and widely used throughout Europe. Lewless says their use in North America is escalating, along with public interest in alternative, all-natural health options. I was intrigued enough to volunteer my son, a chronic allergy sufferer since birth, as a client, and accompanied him to several sessions. The experience was relaxing and convivial, if nothing else. In the snow-white Relaxation Room lined with 4 tons of salt, we nestled in comfy chaise lounges amid dimmed lights and twinkling electric candles. Gentle back- ground music softened the halogenerator’s hum. We chatted with other clients, often about allergies and ailments.

Being relaxed and breathing normally, says Lewless, enables line, negatively charged ionized salt particles to enter and clear the lungs and nasal passages. It gets to the deepest part of the lungs, which destroys bacteria and allows impurities to exit the body through coughing, blowing or through the bloodstream, she adds.

Sterility is maintained through occasional replacement of the salt, the wearing of sterile surgical booties and UV lights that kill 99.8 percent of bacteria and iruses on surfaces. The more sessions you book consecutively, the better, says Lewless. Everyone’s different, and the magic number seems to be 10; but it’s
somewhere between three and 10, depending on severity,” she notes.

Like other patients in the chamber, my son and I experienced significant improvement by our second and third sessions. I could feel my own lungs start to clear and could tell that the mucous in my son’s nose was breaking up as he did the breathing exercises he was taught to maximize results. In fact, since completing 10 sessions, my son has nary a stuffed nose, sleeps better and wakes up more refreshed. He’s been nose-spray free for more than two months.

Lewless agrees that part of my son’s improvement can be attributed to changes I made at home: new curtains, washed walls and linens, continuous dusting and the addition of an air purifier in his room. “One of the easiest ways to enhance your therapy is to drink more water, plain water, not just fluids,” she says. Keeping your cells well hydrated helps the body systems work more effectively, which is especially important for those with asthma, COPD and cystic fibrosis. Other steps you can take at home include using only natural cleaning products. Frequent use of traditional glass cleaners, furniture polishes and room fresheners – particularly those that come in spray containers – has been shown to trigger asthma in adults, according to the American Academy of Allergy, asthma and Immunology. Also, UV lights in the ductwork can help to remove the kind of bacteria that exacerbates respiratory problems.

Lewless has recently added acupuncture treatments to The Salt Room’s list of services and plans to add a nutritionist and a massage therapist as well. “We can offer people an affordable way to stay healthy and reduce their symptoms of existing sinus and respiratory issues,” she says. And in this tough economic
climate, who wouldn’t want to breathe a little easier?