Meet Spa Solage's executive director who is putting her own stamp on the area's time-tested therapies.
Raised in the UK, Helen Brown is a relative newcomer to the Napa Valley, lured here in 2014 by an opportunity she says she couldn’t resist: working with the geothermal mineral water and therapeutic mud native to Calistoga.
“The term spa comes from a Roman acronym that means health through water, and based on that definition, Calistoga is really the perfect location for a spa,” she says.
At Spa Solage, Helen has built on Calistoga’s longstanding wellness traditions by developing treatments that use local grape seed mud—rich in anti-oxidants—and healing plants like rosemary, sage, and lavender from the spa garden.
“We feel it’s really important to remind our guests of where they are specifically and to celebrate all of the bounty that Napa Valley has to offer,” Helen says. In that spirit, she even introduced a meditative wine tasting experience.
Helen describes her personal wellness philosophy as a quest for balance—and that includes enjoying both fine wines and fresh produce. It also means she prioritizes time in nature. A triathlete, Helen rises as early as 5:30 am to cycle, run, or swim.
After an intense workout, Helen finds it’s deeply restorative to alternate between soaking in warm geothermal spring water and taking a cool plunge, followed by a session in the spa’s eucalyptus steam room.
Whatever your fitness level, she says there are well-established benefits to such bathing rituals, from reducing muscle aches to improving circulation and skin conditions. And Helen strives to elevate her offerings further: “A spa treatment is the most profound when we’re addressing each one of the senses.”
Two notable treatments that set Spa Solage apart are Watsu, an aquatic-based massage therapy, and a private floating meditation experience, which involves a visualization led by an instructor under the twinkling stars, when it’s very peaceful.
“We are the only property in this area doing anything like this,” says Helen. “Our guests have found it to be transformative and memorable.”