These days it’s seems there’s a spa on every corner. But not every so-called spa actually provides an authentic spa experience, where you can conveniently step away from the business of your life and enter an oasis that takes you away from it all for a few hours. That’s what I was looking for when the time came to schedule my ‘new year spa day.’ It’s a self-care treat that I gift to myself every January (and I hope you will, too!).
This year, I abandoned my old t stand-bys—massage/body scrub/facial offered in a busy salon/spa—in search of a local (within 20 minutes of home) and truly holistic approach to body and mind. From the moment I stepped through the door, I wanted to fee as if my daily hassles just melted away. And I wanted to forget how bitter cold it was outside—12°F in Connecticut!
I must have made one helluva wish, because what I found was a bright, new star of a spa, aptly named NOVA Spa, just 15 minutes from my front door.
Instead of booking my appointment over the phone, based only on what I saw on the website, I first visited the spa with my two daughters. After a hectic school and workday, we walked into an oasis of relaxation. While the girls sipped on their coconut infused organic smoothies (freshly shredded coconut meat, assorted berries, and home-made kefir), I read about the spa services and chatted with owner, Jeff Nova.
Jeff made recommendations for treatments that met the needs I described. He said I should set aside about 3 hours and my services would conclude a light organic lunch. All of which was (surprisingly) reasonably priced and within my budget! I took the information home with me, and after doing a little research, booked the Pineapple Papaya Enzyme Facial Peel, Lamina Facial Lift and a body treatment called Thalassotherapy.
The Nova Spa Experience
Upon arrival, Nova Spa immerses you in a warm, inviting atmosphere. The main building (which is very unassuming from outside), houses the guest services desk, organic fresh-pressed juice and smoothie bar, and a seating area in front of a lovely fireplace. The décor is a blend of southwest style and Jeff’s own handcrafted woodwork, including pine countertops and handsomely carved driftwood embellishments. Natural light infuses the rooms and warmly reflects the sand and sunset hued color scheme. Treatment rooms are similarly decorated, with guest privacy and personal attention given utmost importance.
I was introduced to Mariola, my treatment specialist, who also is Jeff’s partner and has exceptional training in therapeutic bodywork and skincare protocols. After showing me to a treatment room and explaining how the protocol would proceed, I slipped under the warm, silky coverings on the massage table and waited for the magic to begin.
There are a number of specific benefits derived from the spa services I received and Nova’s holistic approach to skincare, which Jeff describes in the interview below the review. What really counts is the experience of receiving those services.
To prepare my skin for Thalassotherapy, the ancient medicinal use of seawater and shore climate, Mariola applied a blend of 100% organic Jojoba Oil and Himalayan Salts. I was nervous. My previous experience with salt scrubs had all been painful, like being scraped with a garden rake!
The Himalayan Salt Scrub felt more like a gentle brushing—it was a wonderful experience. After the salt scrub was applied to my entire body (not the face), I rinsed in a warm shower. My skin, especially legs and feet—always very dry—felt soft, healthy and invigorated.
Next, Mariola applied a warm seaweed-based body mud and wrapped my entire body in a thermal blanket. Within the foil, and the room, heat began to rise to help the mineral-infused mud extract impurities from my skin. During the 30 minutes in the Thalassatherapy body-wrap, Mariola washed my face with Shira organics Oatmeal Cleanser, followed by the Pineapple-Papaya Enzymatic Peel. The peel was gently tingly with a mildly sweet aroma.
After 30 minutes in the Thalassotherapy body wrap, I entered a warm steam for 10 minutes followed by a warm shower. Mariola provided great care in assisting me and periodically shared “skincare wisdom”—both modern science and ancient healing traditions—during the treatment.
I thought my spa experience would end with the Lamina Lift, an organic blend of seaweeds, aloe and orange water to soothe skin and give the face a more radiant appearance (and it does just that!). To my surprise there was one final body treatment: A massage using a blueberry and jojoba moisturizer.
I felt as if my skin had been infused with moisture protection so deep, not even Jack Frost’s icy touch could penetrate it!
Just when I thought Nova couldn’t add to my bliss, Jeff presented lunch:
- Sea Wrap garnished with Green Apples, Baby Spinach & Raspberries
Delectably filled with quinoa, spinach, Nappa cabbage, avocado, tomato, cucumber, shiitake mushroom, and chic pea humus)
- Lemon Mint Water
- Fresh Berries Cup
- Lilly Basket Flowering Herbal Tea
When it comes time to plan your own personal spa day, you deserve the best. Do a little research—you may find that you don’t have to travel far from home to find a truly holistic spa that will revealing the bright star that you are!
What makes Nova Spa unique?
We embrace the opportunity to educate clients about their skincare from a preventative, proactive approach. We recognized the need to provide clients something more than risky instant gratification protocols that attempt to ‘defy nature’ using harsh topical treatments, ‘injectables,’ and synthetic formulas that rarely penetrate the skin. We’ve seen many clients whose skin, and overall health, has suffered from problems due to these types of treatments.
The best approach to skincare is clean, using non-toxic solutions, free of harmful synthetics and preservatives, that support the health the skin from the inside out. At Nova Spa we utilize nature as it was intended, integrating medicinal wild-crafted herbs, fragrant botanicals and mineral rich seaweeds into our facials and body treatments to help ‘defer aging’ by working with the power of nature. Our primary product line is Shira Organic skincare, which represents the finest all natural and organic anti-aging formulations available today.
From a holistic nutrition perspective, which is vital to healthy skin, we understand that ‘we are what we eat,’ and more importantly, what we don’t digest. Digestion, or the lack thereof, plays a significant role in how we look and feel. It just seemed natural to me to combine the organic skincare treatments with holistic nutrition education and simple, delicious and nutrient-rich light-fare for spa guests to enjoy.
Our services are designed to promote youthful vitality for our clients, giving them a healthier overall condition from head-to toe, inside-to-outside—so they can look good and feel better.
Speaking of head-to-toe, let’s talk about the benefits of each of the spa services I received.
For the Shira Organic Pure Pineapple Papaya Enzyme Peel it’s important to know how beneficial pineapple and papaya are to natural skin care. Both fruits are rich in vitamins and enzymes (papain and bromelain) that promote healing and reduce inflammation and may help minimize the appearance of age spots and fine lines, leaving the skin supple. These enzymes work synergistically to detoxify the skin, exfoliate dead cells from the skin’s surface, and help restore radiance and balance to the complexion.
The Lamina Lift™ Mask uses an organic blend of EcoCertified Seaweeds, Orange Water, Aloe Vera and natural botanicals to de-stress and de-puff the skin. This mask provides instant soothing, cooling and moisturizing that reflects a more luminous complexion.
What about Thalassotherapy? What is special about this treatment?
A key characteristic of our spa treatment is the potent blend of Laminaria Digitata and Ascophyllum Nodosum—seaweed extracts that are rich in 12 vitamins and minerals, 18 amino acids and 42 trace elements. Talk about nutrition for the skin!
While there is limited conventional medical research on the use of Thalassotherapy, individual components of the treatment, especially in Europe, have been appreciated for their therapeutic value for medicinal purposes. Hippocrates first used the word “thalassotherapy” to describe the healing effects of seawater. Seawater contains vitamins, mineral salts, trace elements, amino acids and living microorganisms that can produce antibiotic and antibacterial effects. Proponents claim it helps strengthen the immune system, improve circulation, hydrate the skin, and promote relaxation, which benefits overall well-being.
Learn More in our Winter Skincare Feature!
Protect Your Skin From Jack Frost! Nourish & Heal Dry Skin – Part II of our Interview with Jeff Nova
Review By: Karen M. Rider, M.A.
Karen is a contributing editor with Medicine Talk Pro. She has a decade of experience writing about holistic health and wellness. Karen holds degrees in kinesiology and health psychology and has training in wellness coaching, yoga, and health research. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Association for Health Care Journalists. When she isn’t writing, Karen enjoys biking and kayaking with her family and relaxing with a home-brewed cup of organic tea. Learn More about Karen
Visit Nova Spa
Nova Spa opened in Connecticut in 2011 and within three years expanded its enchanting treatment areas to two buildings, the second having opened in 2014. The main building houses a lounge with fireplace and custom, arched woodwork handcrafted by the owner, Jeff Nova. A cold press juice and smoothie bar overlooks a gleaming stainless steel kitchen area where spa guests can observe the preparation of fresh, organic salads, wraps, and beverages as delicious as they are nutritious. Nova also offers holistic health workshops and cooking classes.
With Jeff at the helm in the kitchen and at guest services, his partner Mariola leads the spa therapeutics staff. Originally from Europe, where many of the treatments Nova offers are in high demand, Mariola brings to her role nearly 20 years of in-depth experience as a medical massage therapist and aesthetician. Together, Jeff and Mariola share a holistic philosophy and heart-centered work ethic for spa services and client care.
European Audit Institute, Wellness & Spa. Thalasso Therapy- Definition & Standards. Accessed on January 8, 2016.
Murray, M. & Traub, M.“Psoriasis” as cited in Pizzorno, Joseph E. (2013). Textbook of Natural Medicine. St. Louis, MO Elsevier. (chapter 204), 1760-1768- see page 1765.
+ Also see: Groven, M. “Peat Therapeutics & Balneotherapy.” (chapter 45), 385-394.
Pacific Naturopathic.com. “The Sea: A Story of Love, Adventure and Healing.” Aug. 19, 2010. Accessed on January 8, 2016. http://www.pacificnaturopathic.com/articles/health_benefits_of_sea_bathing.html
+ Related article on Benefits of Hydrotherapy: http://www.pacificnaturopathic.com/articles/hydrotherapy_simple_safe_approach_to_health_problems.html
*Proksch, E. et al., “Bathing in a Magnesium-Rich Dead Sea Salt Solution Improves Skin Barrier Function, Enhances Skin Hydration, and Reduces Inflammation in Atopic Dry Skin”. Internl. Journal of Dermatology. February 2005. Available from:
Codish, S. et al., “Spa Therapy for Ankylosing Spondylitis at the Dead Sea.” IMAJ, (7) July 2005, 443-446. Accessed on Jan 8, 2016. http://www.ka.ima.org.il/FilesUpload/IMAJ/0/50/25285.pdf
Sea water is rich in the mineral magnesium, a primary ingredient in Epsom Salt and Dead Sea Salt bath products. The magnesium in seawater may help hydrate and nourish the skin. In a dermatology study, researchers compared people suffering with severe dry skin who bathed in a magnesium-rich Dead Sea salt solution to people who used a tap water bath for the affected skin. Those who soaked the affected area in the salt solution showed improved skin hydration and reduced skin inflammation (redness and roughness). These benefits were attributed to the high magnesium content of the Dead Sea salt. Many holistic doctors also recommend high quality mineral baths, or balneotherapy, to promote well-being and address specific health concerns.