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Salt room Salthaus adds to NYC's halotherapy offerings

"We want wellness to feel approachable," co-founder Amber Berger said.

Salthaus co-founders Stefanie Ruch, left, and Amber Berger

Salthaus co-founders Stefanie Ruch, left, and Amber Berger in one of their Manhattan salt rooms. Photo Credit: Jennifer S. Altman/Jennifer S. Altman

 A new salt room aims to be a neighborhood destination for everything from playdates to business meetings to girls’ nights out.

Salthaus on the Upper East Side is dedicated to halotherapy, or salt therapy, with two rooms designed to mimic conditions of a salt cave. The floors are covered with pink Himalayan salt, blocks of salt are in the walls and halogenerators spread salt particles into the air.

Amber Berger and Stefanie Ruch opened the wellness spot late last month. The former fashion buyer and commercial producer, respectively, met through their kids’ Upper West Side school and bonded over finding holistic remedies for their families. After seeing firsthand the benefits of halotherapy — which is used to treat allergy symptoms and respiratory conditions, improve skin conditions, strengthen immunity, reduce stress and more — they wanted to make salt rooms more accessible to New Yorkers.

“I was blown away by the many benefits that it has,” Berger says. “We really wanted to bring this concept of wellness for all to the city and to the neighborhood. We want wellness to feel approachable.”

Visitors are encouraged to unplug and asked to leave their cellphones outside of the rooms during the 45-minute session. The space features 10 chairs across two rooms decked out with neck and eye pillows and blankets for guests to get comfortable. The walls offer instructions for breathing exercises. Events in guided breath work are also on the calendar.

Salthaus joins a growing number of salt room offerings in the city. The three-year-old Montauk Salt Cave, which has two locations on Long Island, opened a third in New York City last summer. The East Village salt cave hosts 45-minute sessions in a zero-gravity chair, with enough seats for up to 10 people at a time. Himalayan pink salt covers the floor, and bricks line the walls.

Breathe is another spaced dedicated to dry salt therapy, with Himalayan salt rooms at two Manhattan locations. It also hosts classes in yoga, meditation, sound baths and more.

Salt rooms and saunas are also found at spas. Spa Castle in College Point and its midtown outpost, Premier57, both have heated salt rooms among its sauna offerings. The holistic spa La Casa in Flatiron has an infrared salt sauna, with blocks of Himalayan, Baltic Sea and Black Sea salt in the room.

Midtown “relaxation center” Floating Lotus also offers a salt cave that’s heated with infrared heat beam lamps, along with offerings like massage, acupuncture and yoga.

In opening Salthaus, located at 1220 Lexington Ave., Berger and Ruch look to stand out by offering a dedicated salt room that’s quick and easy to get in a 45-minute session in a modern setting.

“The ones we had been to in the tristate area were all caves — we wanted to bring a different look and a different feeling,” Ruch said.

Encouraged by the fitness boom, they hope people see this as just another part of their wellness routine.

“People are getting in their fitness workouts, they’re now cleaning up their beauty routine — the element of self-care is really that missing piece,” Berger said. “They can add this to their weekly routine.”

So far Salthaus has hosted business meetings, dates and playdates. To appeal to families, there’s a wall of children’s books, shovels for digging in the salt, and kids 10 and under are also free with an adult for the $40 sessions.

“For young kids it’s like a day at the beach — they get to play with sand toys,” Berger said. “Adults love to dig their feet into the sand. It has a calming effect on the body.”

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