THE WOODHOUSE DAY SPA & BOUTIQUE

by WENDY SWAT SNYDER / photography by HOLGER OBENAUS

RELAX. REFRESH. RENEW. Taking a break from daily challenges for a deep immersion in self-care is a powerful reset—a way to maintain some form of balance in our lives. And, these days, who doesn’t need an extra dose of indulgence to promote a sense of well-being? Both physically and mentally soothing, the pampering experience offered by The Woodhouse Day Spa & Boutique clears the chatter for a while, bringing peace and a fresh perspective to the moment. It did for me, and I needed it more than I thought.

The Woodhouse Day Spa & Boutique franchise family has been named in the top five of America’s Favorite Day Spas and Best Spa Menus by American Spa Magazine. Owner Kimberly Powell brought the Woodhouse concept to Charleston in 2015, after visiting from her Ohio home with family and identifying a niche in the local spa market.

“My mother and I have a tradition of getting together for spa weekends,” explains Powell. “We’d become particularly impressed with the level of service at the Ritz-Carlton, but when a Woodhouse opened in Dayton, it was incredible. We were hoping to find one in Charleston—a high-end luxury experience, without the resort prices.”

Powell and husband Keith Powell, a Beaufort, South Carolina, native, bought and renovated a 9,000-square-foot property in Mount Pleasant, making it the country’s largest Woodhouse spa. This year, they cut the ribbon on a second location in Westedge, peninsular Charleston’s new residential/commercial waterfront district.

“I was looking for a chapter two, an entrepreneurial outlet for myself,” notes Powell, who co-owns Summit Industrial Flooring with Keith, and serves on the College of Charleston Board of Governors and mentors the ImpactX program in the School of Business. “The luxury industry is fun for me. I’m getting off the treadmill of life, working remotely—it’s the lifestyle I was looking for. And it’s rewarding to be a part of the community.”

Powell brings her innovative spirit to bear throughout the spa and the gift boutique, which is open to the public.

“I wanted to create something to help people to stop and focus, to set an intention for the day,” says Powell. “My meditation line of candles, Héron, is the first of its kind. It comes in three scents and individual mantras to reflect the time of day—Rise (we rise by lifting others), Radiate (we attract what we radiate) and Rest (learning to rest will become your greatest strength). Hopefully, when you stop to light a candle, you’ll put your phone down and take a moment to meditate.” The candles can be purchased at heroncandles.com.

The Woodhouse award-winning spa cuisine—a cheese plate and a Mediterranean plate—is available for all guests to order, and a spa party package offers full-service catering, flowers and a dedicated hostess. Light snacks and beverages—including a mimosa bar—are complimentary.

“We have a lot of corporate groups, bridal parties and other special events. And because both spas are 9,000 square feet, we are able to accommodate large groups more than other, smaller local spas,” notes Powell, adding, “and we make beautiful gift baskets.”

The Mount Pleasant location I visited is a sprawling property flanked by wraparound porches for lounging alfresco. Inside, one is enfolded in a softly lit atmosphere of nerve-calming serenity projected by a welcoming staff and understated luxury. The gift boutique is stocked with aromatic self-care essentials; organic cosmetics; flowing, sustainably made clothing; and a host of other pleasing paraphernalia—from cozy slippers to artisan jewelry. 

My treatment, a Seasonal Swedish, was performed by lead massage therapist Dana Sandvig using products by Farmhouse Fresh. In candlelit quiet, she began my 50-minute session with a honey butter foot mask with hot towel wraps that instantly melted away any remnants of care. Her hands-on technique was thoughtful and firm; she, herself, was all positive energy.

“My approach is to use massage techniques to help the guest find a deep state of relaxation,” says Sandvig, whose credentials include certification from the Center for Massage & Natural Health and high-end stints at The Grove Park Inn and Charleston Place. “A lot of people with injuries have difficulty getting there. And it’s necessary for them to achieve that comfort level so they can benefit from deeper therapeutic massage.” 

Powell says she is committed to building a team of “the best of the best”—professionals like Sandvig and general manager Debbie Jenner, who helped open the Mount Pleasant location and now runs both locations.

“We set a high standard for ourselves as a spa, and I think we accomplish that,” notes Sandvig, who says her four-year tenure at The Woodhouse Day Spa & Boutique has been her happiest.

“We are very focused on the guest experience,” adds Jenner. “They deserve the finest service. We train our therapists to put themselves in the guest’s shoes—our entire program is centered around that.” *

Wendy Swat Snyder is a Charleston-based freelance writer.