HALL: Pain, pleasure and pursuit of happiness: A visit to The Spa at Silver Shells (PHOTOS)

Laura Hall, Under the Radar
Karla Paris, assistant spa director and Ila Holt, massage therapist.

Our Destin weather has been so bone-chilling, I decide to visit a warm and inviting place. 

I enter The Spa at Silver Shells, next to Ruth’s Chris Steak House and am welcomed by Karla Paris, assistant spa director and Ila Holt, massage therapist. There are a lot of delightful things going on here. I visit the outdoor/indoor pool area where there in the warm outdoor sunshine sit two couples from Indiana immersed in an invigorating game of bridge and two hearty souls outside in the heated pool.

They receive privileges to the pool, sauna and weight rooms by staying on any part of the Silver Shells property.

Waiting inside the spa area I find Marc Lorio and his wife Morgan — both members of the Air Force and here for a massage.  Marc says he is an aircraft mechanic and just got off the plane from TDY training in Dallas for the F-35. This is a “thank you” to Morgan for handling their young twins for two weeks and surviving the ice storm while he was gone. What a warm and pleasant way to acknowledge a cold and stressful job well done.

The many choices at The Spa will make your head spin: Swedish massage, sports massage, deep tissue, aroma therapy or hot stones. How about a highlight at The Spa the Vichy Shower.

 “This Vichy Shower is what puts the ah in spa,” says licensed massage therapist Jason Lewis.

As I understand it, you can get a salt scrub on the skin followed by six shower heads pouring out warm water at full force to rinse you off.  Leaves the skin soft and luxurious like never before.  At my age, one can still hope for the impossible.  If you prefer, you might like the detoxifying seaweed wrap to help draw out the impurities in the skin. Want more? How about mineralizing mud wraps. I’ve forgotten what this one does, but it must be good as you start off looking like cracking dead tree bark and come out like a breath of cool spring... energized and ready to roll into the new year.

The pain in my back and shoulders from excessive yard work has brought me back to The Spa and to my favorite licensed massage therapist.  Jason comes from a military family. After graduating from school he spent four years in the Air Force at Eglin. After that he worked in fitness facilities and later as a personal trainer.  He soon decided to use his G.I. Bill for massage school. 

He graduated from Emerald Coast Massage School and 12 years later he is enjoying his choice of profession. Jason spent two years working with Dr. Kovar in Fort Walton Beach specializing in treating neck and back injuries before joining The Spa at Silver Shells nine years ago. I think this extra training puts Jason above and beyond the normal therapist.

I chose the hour-long sports massage, which uses medium pressure and stretching.  As I enter the massage room, the tinkling, restful and quiet music sets the emotional stage and the warm, heated massage table encourages me to leave my troubles behind.  I consider Jason to be the Sherlock Holmes of massage therapy. He is quick, fast, professional and can find those tight, painful muscles no matter how deep they are or how carefully they hide. He knows right where they reside and they are sure to feel his professional touch with just the right pressure.

After my session is over, I ask Jason what he likes best about his job. 

“I enjoy helping people feel better and live happier and healthier lives,” he says.

Laura Hall is a longtime Destin resident.  She writes about gardens and other local topics, sometimes with her dog Annie in tow.  If you would like to be profiled on a future column, contact Laura at llhall4386@gmail.com