Whisper makes a quiet debut in Birch Bay
Marine colors and crisp citrus scents were the dominant themes Ellen Shea had in mind when she designed Whisper on the Bay, her long-awaited day spa on Birch Bay Drive that opened March 6.
Shea, a co-founder of Bellingham’s Chrysalis Inn & Spa, will celebrate her new spa with an open house and grand opening on Sunday April 2, from noon to 5 p.m. The event is free and will include demonstrations, refreshments and door prizes.
Inside the spa, Shea accomplished this theme using iridescent Italian glass tiles, custom designed wall sconces from Chuckanut Lighting in Bellingham, custom stained glass from Artistic Glass in Anacortes, and lots of green and blue tones.
“I chose the colors to blend with the area, the sea and the water,” Shea said. “I wanted to get away from the earth tones traditionally used in spas.”
An ocean green painted hallway from the lobby leads to seven treatment rooms, a manicure room with two pedicure thrones, and a relaxation room with tea, iced lemon water, dark chocolate candies that rotate daily (on this day, Whisper featured dark chocolate-covered black sesame seeds and roasted almonds). Shea said the room is used to allow individuals to adjust and gather their senses after a deeply relaxing treatment.
Shea said she learned a lot from working at her former spa such as the importance of building a team-based approach with her staff. Before opening, for example, Shea invited her staff – some of whom commute more than 45 minutes each way – to participate in the design and placement of furniture, as well as the operations of the spa.
“When I hired them, it was as much their talent as it was their willingness to be a part of a team,” she said. “People are your most important asset; if you don’t have a good team and a good staff, you are nothing.”
Shea earned her bachelor of arts degree in psychology and pursued a master of arts in business administration from Washington State University before working at the Chrysalis in Bellingham. She also enrolled in several courses on spa-related training, she said.
Her spa treatments and facials incorporate Phytoceane and Matis, two French lines of natural skin care products that use ocean elements such as seaweed extract for its mineral content and purifying properties, as well as sea coral for its exfoliation and caviar extract for its moisturizing properties.
This reporter sampled the Whisper facial ($75) which included ionic steam treatment, an individually-tailored five-step treatment which, in this case, used the Phytoceane cooling gel cleanser, a papaya enzyme cream exfoliator, and a purifying mud mask to help tighten pores, followed by a hot micro fiber towel wrap to remove the products after each product application.
A face, scalp and hand massage using a light almond oil moisturizer made the experience more relaxing than anticipated. A less expensive version of the Whisper facial is available for $40 and employs similar treatment in half the time.
For more problematic skin, Lisa, a spa technician, recommends the purifying facial treatment ($80), which offers the same treatments but with the option of impurity extractions using a high-frequency galvanic treatment to loosen blocked pores and remove hardened material without spreading bacteria.
For dry or mature skin, she recommends the caviar facial treatment ($125), which includes a moisturizing mask and an intensive facial serum, both of which contain a caviar extract.
“The purifying facial is a facial for people with breakouts and helps to deep cleanse the skin,” she said. “The caviar treatment is more for very mature skin. It’s a deeply repairing, moisturizing facial.”
Other services include massages, manicures, pedicures, waxing, body treatments such as a seaweed thermal body cocoon that helps draw toxins out of the skin by stimulating sweat glands ($80) and a sea salt body scrub that helps remove dead skin cells ($55).
The spa also features a multi-purpose room for couples, friends or other pairs who want to enjoy treatments together, as well as an oversized hydro-thermo bathtub for specialty soaks, including a Dead Sea mud bath, and the iron-rich “Emerald Coast” seaweed bath intended to stimulate the metabolism. All of the bath soaks are $45.
All services include the complimentary use of the eucalyptus steam rooms for up to 30 minutes before or after treatment.
Whisper on the Bay is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and until 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, as well as 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. They are located at 7862 Birch Bay Drive in Birch Bay and can be reached by calling 371-3660 or by visiting www.whisperonthe-bay.com.