A proposed change of use at a Waitsfield property could bring a new offering to the Mad River Valley, a Scandanavian-style spa named Mad Soak.
Proposed by Fayston resident Marc Crawford, the spa is planned for the space that currently houses Mad River Fiber Arts. The Waitsfield Development Review Board will hear the change of use application on October 13.
Crawford explained that the idea is to create the type of spa that is found in northern Europe and other parts of the globe that focuses on saunas, mineral baths, a steam room as well as related products and services designed to help people relax, reinvigorate and restore themselves.
“When people hear the word spa they often think of beauty treatments like facials and manicures. I’m envisioning something more focused on the healing qualities of water – hot and cold baths, saunas, hot tubs and a juice bar,” Crawford said.
Working with realtor Karl Klein, Crawford looked at multiple properties and vacant lots over the past couple of years. When the Mad River Fiber Arts property came on the market, it was the right fit for what he wants to do. It has ample parking, good access on Route 100, mountain and river views and room for screening outdoor features on the lot.
“It’s important for the spa to be embedded in nature for the soothing and healing aspects. I envision relaxation rooms with nice chairs where people can hang out after or in between the water features,” he said. He is also hoping to partner with local massage therapists to offer massage services.
The facility with be co-ed with bathing suits required, unlike some spas which have separate sections for men and women. There will be locker rooms as well.
“It’s going to take a little time for people to get used to the idea and see if they like it. I think it will be attractive to people coming off the slopes,” he said.
“It will be about education and introducing it to people. I think once you’ve experienced it and you’ll feel its impact on your health. I think people will notice that during our long cold winters,” he said.
The DRB application notes that initially the spa will be open from September 15 to May 31, but that is subject to change should there be a demand.
Crawford said people will pay a fee to use the facility and will be able to buy packages of five to 10 visits and that, ultimately, he’ll sell memberships.
In terms of timing, Crawford hopes to start converting the building in the fall of 2021.
“COVID is driving the time frame. I’d like to start next fall but only if things are in much better shape with COVID and a vaccine. Even with those things in place, it might take some time for people to come back to these kinds of environments,” he said.
Crawford has been living in The Valley full time since COVID. He bought a place in The Valley in 2018 and pre-COVID had been splitting his time between Canada and the east coast working as a website designer for financial services businesses. While he is still working at his day job full time, once the spa is up anda running he hopes to reduce his day job hours.
Crawford moved to Germany when he was 12 years old and spent most of the 1980’s and 1990’s in Germany. That is when he started getting interested in spas and saunas, traveling extensively through Northern Scandanavia.
“It wasn’t exactly my goal to own one the, but I started to like the idea more and more. It was a big part of my travel,” he said.