IF ONLY I’D KNOWN ABOUT the “Healing environments” — the crystal salt therapy room, the tropical rain shower and the waterfall, not to mention the steam bath, cold plunge and sauna — I might have budgeted more time for Still Point’s newest spa, Haven on the Lake in Columbia, Md. (The other two are in Takoma Park and Clarksville, Md.)
Or I might have signed up to try unfamiliar body treatments, including the Hydrating Sugar Polish and the Warm Salt Glow — sugar or salt formulations applied to the entire body to treat the skin. A wellness spa, Haven offers the services of a naturopathic doctor, who might recommend any of a number of services, including Detoxification or Weight Loss and Metabolism.
Instead, I was curious about the Qigong (pronounced chi-gong) class and needed a pedicure. Qigong, a traditional Chinese practice, uses meditation, rhythmic breathing and flowing movements to cultivate and balance chi or “life energy.” In Haven’s small mid-afternoon class, the balance poses seemed most useful, but I also appreciated the teacher weaving in some of the ideas and movements related to the flow of energy around the body, as well as giving the names of poses, such as “Divine maiden scattering flowers” and “Embracing the moon.”
The Renew pedicure, a little pricey ($85 for 45 minutes), took place in a dimly lit room in shades of greenish gray and grayish green, colors that make much of Haven spa feel like canyon outcroppings — rock-like but spacious and airy. And it felt more welcoming to me than other upscale spa/salons like Elizabeth Arden where my clothes, my hair and especially my toes suddenly seem to look a little scruffy.
Cynthia, who was my beautician, picked out a gorgeous-color polish for me from Deborah Lippmann. Although I usually play Words with Friends or relax in silence during such treatments, I was intrigued to hear Cynthia describe the friendly, almost family-like experience she has had at Haven, both during her training and afterwards — engendered by the founders, and perhaps explaining some of the comfort I felt there. (I’m glad to know that personnel are happy, compared to what I’ve heard about other local spa options.)
Marla Peoples and Tori Paide — one of whom I later met as she was walking around checking on things — opened Haven in December, 2014, as a big step up from the other two Still Point spas with its “mind/body movement classes” and “healing environments.” (Paide founded the Takoma Park location in 2007, and the two women started Still Point’s second location in Clarksville together.) Peoples and Paide have created their own line of “wild-crafted” skincare products, as well as a holistic collection of essential oil tonics for physical well-being.
Most enticing at Haven is the space itself, the very high-ceilinged rooms with huge glass windows overlooking Lake Kittamaqundi, in winter a frozen landscape edged by bare trees. I could also imagine springtime greenery creating a sense of lush countryside. There is no swimming in the lake, but stand-up paddle boarding, the latest rage and slightly less difficult than it looks, is available for Haven guests.
Getting to Haven involves a 30- to 45-minute drive from DC — it’s off Route 29 in Columbia, so probably best not attempted during rush hour — but the spa environment helps soothe the post-drive fatigue and wafts you farther from the city’s stresses. Haven hosts girls’ night outings with a half-day spa package ($230, which includes two of the following: a 50-minute custom massage; Warm Salt Glow; Renew Facial; and Renew Manicure and Pedicure). For $20 more you can add a “mind body” like yoga, pilates, etc. Food from the Whole Foods upstairs is on sale at the spa, to be consumed overlooking the lake, outdoors in nice weather or at indoor tables placed near the floor-to-ceiling windows. The next time my friends say they’re thinking of a place for a Sunday spa outing, I’ve got a suggestion.