Birch Bay’s Whisper on the Bay for sale

Published on Thu, Dec 20, 2007 by TaraNelson

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Birch Bay’s Whisper on the Bay for sale

By Tara Nelson

The Birch Bay spa known for its meticulous attention to detail has closed its doors for good.

Owner Ellen Shea, a prominent and driven businesswoman who co-founded the Chrysalis Inn and Spa in Bellingham refuses to skimp on anything – which is possibly why she wasn’t able to continue under her current business model.

If anything, she’s guilty of putting too much of herself into her business before enough residents here had warmed to the idea of luxurious dark chocolate baths, organic clay skin care and seaweed mineral scrubs.
“I think it was just too much too soon,” she said.

And after attending her mother’s funeral in Mississippi earlier this month, she realized she couldn’t continue the business.

“I literally came back from my mother’s funeral, took a look at how slow it was during the winter and I told the staff I couldn’t do it anymore,” she said.

Shea, however, still thinks that change is just around the corner and plans to put the business up for sale.

She hopes a future buyer will recognize the potential of a local spa with the increase in value of the Canadian loonie, a recent article about Birch Bay in The New York Times’ travel section, the new construction of time-share resorts such as Vacation Internationale and the ever-increasing presence of Canadian vacationers here.

Birch Bay, she said, is like a hidden gem for vacationers and residents alike, and it’s only a matter of time before it is discovered.

“We have a great reputation and we were well liked in the community and I would like to see the business stay here,” she said. “Afterall, it is the season for miracles.”

Inside the spa, Shea accomplished a theme of marine colors and crisp citrus scents 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 traditional earth tones.”

An ocean green painted hallway from the lobby leads to seven treatment rooms, a manicure room with two pedicure thrones, and a relaxation room where she had served tea, iced lemon water with dehydrated sea minerals, dark chocolate-covered black sesame treats and roasted almonds.

The spa will be open its last day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, December 22 to sell out the remaining retail products at discounted prices of 20 to 50 percent.

Whisper on the Bay is located at 7862 Birch Bay Drive in Birch Bay.
Shea can be reached at or by calling 371-4438. Future updates will be available by visiting their web site at