Peel away your pandemic stress at spa/salon

Not everyone enjoys hiking or biking. Some vacationers might secretly crave lying down and having their back rubbed. They might like, too, to splurge and have their face rejuvenated with fragrant botanicals or their weary, neglected feet treated to an hour-long soak. 

On Bar Harbor’s Cottage Street, you can have that and a lot more. In recent years, the Tree of Life Day Spa and Salon NaturELLES teamed up to pool their talents and services and to promote their similar ideals together. Within minutes of each other, the two enterprises together offer a wide variety of services from men, women and children’s haircuts, manicures and pedicures to massages, facials, body treatments and foot baths. 

At Tree of Life Day Spa, John Baranowski gives esthetican and licensed massage therapist Kiana Baranowski (above) a foot bath. Left, esthetician Briauna Steinke gives a massage to Kimberly Thibert (left).

“We both focus on quality service and we both use organic, sustainable, cruelty-free products that help protect the health of the planet and the people on it,” says Danielle Hostins, Salon NaturELLES founder and hairstylist. Last summer, Hostins sold her salon to Tree of Life Day Spa owner Sheryl DeWalt knowing her clients would be well cared for. DeWalt also owns the Acadia School of Massage.

At Tree of Life Day Spa, Manager Phil Payne says he was drawn to the personal-care profession because he loves to help people.

“As a licensed massage therapist, I am able to make a difference in someone’s life by helping them deal with a physical issue, get some relief from stress and anxiety, or just relax and rejuvenate,” he said.

Throughout his career, the massage therapist has lived all over the country. Before moving to Downeast Maine a few years ago, Payne, who grew up mostly in Texas and California, fell in love with Mount Desert Island during his travels around the country with his wife, who he met in Pennsylvania. “I have lived and worked all over the country in a wide variety of settings,” he said. 

Esthetician Briauna Steinke gives a massage to Kimberly Thibert.


Payne completed a rigorous massage training program in Pennsylvania, learning both Western and Eastern massage approaches, in 2005. He met his wife and the two eventually made MDI their home after vacationing there during their travels.

Over the years, Payne has honed his skills in a wide variety of massages from Swedish massage and neuromuscular therapy to the Japanese form of acupressure, shiatsu, and the Chinese therapeutic massage, tui na.

“Massage has several documented physiological and emotional benefits to help address customer complaints,” the licensed massage therapist noted. “Modalities have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, increase energy and alertness, lower heart rate and blood pressure and help people relax.” 

Whether it’s knotted tendons or soft tissue pain, Payne will blend various approaches to address each person’s needs. “While all of our therapists are great at deep tissue work,” he said, working deep “into the muscles isn’t always the best technique.”

Tree of Life Day Spa’s clients range widely throughout the year. One client suffered from chronic insomnia and had a daily massage to help sleep through the night.

“In Bar Harbor, we get to work with a mixture of clients from internationally known actors and artists to our local fishermen, teachers and health-care professionals,” Payne said. “The truly memorable clients are the ones who have specific issues from chronic pain to insomnia that our treatments can help improve their overall quality of life.” 

At Tree of Life Day Spa, esthetician Briauna Steinke applies an organic mud wrap to Kimberly Thibert. The mud, rich in restorative nutrients, comes from lakes in Eastern Europe.

Tree of Life also specializes in skin care. Several years ago, the company’s licensed aesthetic therapist Kiana Baranowski discovered Hungarian esthetician Szilvia Hickman’s Ilike organic skincare line. Hickman incorporates organically grown fruit, vegetables, herbs and other botanicals whose natural chemicals, antioxidants and herbs help heal and improve the skin.

Most people associate Hungarian paprika as an ingredient in hearty winter stews rather than an element in a skin peel.

“Hungarian cherry pepper detoxifies and wakes up tired skin for a more luminous glow,” Payne said. “When it is combined with St. John’s Wort, it provides the skin with astringent and anti-inflammatory benefits to calm and soothe sensitive skin conditions, including rosacea, acne and chapped skin.” 

Chocolate is not just for grazing. Did you know it can be used as a gentle anti-inflammatory for the face? The sweet treat “is a good source of vitamins A, B1, C, D and E” Tree of Life’s manager said, adding “it is also rich in flavonoids, which help the skin filter UV rays.”

At the spa, organic chocolate is combined with Austrian moor mud to sooth irritated and sensitive skin. The mud is sourced from lakes in Eastern European countries. 

“While we don’t soak you in mud here,” Payne said, “we do cover and wrap you, so your core temperature is raised during the treatment, allowing the mud to help produce thermal-physical, biochemical, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory results.”

All these pleasures can be found at Tree of Life Day Spa, (207) 288-5551, [email protected] or treeoflifedayspa.com. 


Many different personal care services are offered on Mount Desert Island.

* Destination Health, 124 Cottage St., Bar Harbor, wellness center, 288 3121, www.destinationhealthmdi.com

* The Spa at the Bar Harbor Inn, 1 Newport Drive, Bar Harbor, spa, 288-8455, barharborinn.com

*Massage Bar Harbor, 77 Mt Desert St., Bar Harbor, spa, 266-6045, massagebarharbor.com

* The Glöw Method by Aquene, 8 Bethany Lane, Bar Harbor, spa, (225) 933-9065, glowmethod.life

* Lotus Medical and Aesthetics, LLC, 9 Kimball Road, Northeast Harbor, medical spa, (207) 949-4517, lotusmedicalaestheticsllc. com

* Eden Therapeutic Massage, 1049 Main St., M. Somesville, massage, (207) 266-1164, edentherapeuticmassage.com

Ninah Rein, an MDI native, covers news and features in the Bar Harbor area. She is glad to be back in Maine after earning a bachelor's degree in San Diego from the University of California.