Getting salty may not be so bad after all.
In fact, salt, in its natural form, has been especially sweet to Shannon and Peter Coppola. The couple are owners of the Montauk Salt Cave — Long Island’s first halotherapy room — which has faux stalactites and a starry sky and is lined with 9 tons of salt from the Himalayan Mountains.
In the past several months, it has become a destination for yoga, reiki and alternative health seekers in search of a salty space to unwind.
“We have customers coming from all over,” says Shannon Coppola, 39.
The walls of the cave are built entirely with pink Himalayan salt rocks. The floor is covered in salt that is said to be anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory. Patrons can either relax in a zero-gravity chair covered in blankets or sit directly on the salt as relaxing music fills the air. A typical session lasts 45 minutes and costs $40.
“Even if there is nothing ‘wrong’ with you, it is a great room to simply relax and take care of your body,” Coppola says.
MAKING A CAVE
Any parent knows, when your child doesn’t sleep, you don’t either.
For the first 4 1⁄2 years of his life, the Coppolas’ son, Oliver, would awaken in the middle of nearly every night due to an uncomfortable combination of severe allergies, respiratory issues and sleep apnea.
“The worst feeling, as a parent, is watching your child suffer and not being able to do anything about it,” says Peter Coppola, 50.
The couple visited a slew of doctors over the years hoping to find a remedy. But for all the trips to medical professionals, the Coppolas say it was a relative’s suggestion of an unorthodox remedy that finally helped. The couple had never heard of the therapeutic benefits of a salt cave, but they brought Oliver to one in Clifton, New Jersey, in 2014. That evening, Oliver slept through the night — and (with regular visits) he has ever since. The experience influenced their decision to open a cave on Long Island and to make it a habit for Oliver to visit. The couple are near completion of a second site — Montauk Salt Cave West — which they plan to open in Huntington this summer.
Although salt therapy has its benefits, experts say there is no scientific evidence suggesting salt caves are able to create a microclimate.
“Salt has been around for as long as man has been around. In a lot of past medicine, when someone had a chronic pulmonary illness, the doctor would send you to the sea shore,” says Dr. Mark Shikowitz, vice chairman of otolaryngology at Northwell Health system. “It does have some anti-inflammatory and natural anti-swelling effect.”
But Shikowitz, who is director of the Zucker Sinus Center of Otolaryngology, cautions against the use of caves as primary medical treatment. “If you want to do this as adjunct therapy, sure. I don’t see anything wrong with it,” says Shikowitz, a Syosset resident. “But people must be warned, if they have a true medical condition — they must have it under control first.”
YOGA AND MORE
Susan Vitale, 58, of Montauk takes weekly yoga classes at the cave for its “restorative benefits.”
“It’s a different feeling. When you’re actually using the salt as an element . . . it takes it to a different level,” says Vitale, who has practiced yoga for the past several years. “The only prop is the salt and our bodies and our breath.”
The Coppolas say they anticipate a rush of salt seekers — and maybe even some skeptics — at both locations this summer. The couple incorporated other modalities such as reiki and massages to enhance the appeal.
Montauk Salt Cave
WHEN|WHERE Adult cave sessions: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 10-5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 10-4 p.m. Kids sessions (ages 0-10; must be accompanied by an adult): Monday, Tuesday and Friday: 4 p.m. Saturday: 10 a.m. Sunday: 3 p.m. 552 West Lake Dr., Montauk
COST $40 per person, parents accompanying a child are free