Chat with ... Arianne O’Donnell, salt cave business owner

DARIEN — As a real estate attorney, Arianne O’Donnell learned to deal with high-pressure situations. Now, with her new salt cave business, she hopes to help people alleviate their own pressure.

“The goal is to have it for stress relief,” O’Donnell said. “But it can also help people with respiratory conditions and skin conditions as well.”

O’Donnell, a 49-year-old Darien resident, said her job could be demanding and stressful. After experiencing a salt cave herself for the first time abroad, she was immediately captivated by the idea.

“I started researching it more, and then I went to Poland to a very famous salt mine there called Wieliczka,” she said.

From there, she learned about the healing factors of a salt cave and decided to open her own stress-relieving business, Salt Cave of Darien. Cave builders took several weeks to build the cavern and import the rocks from the Himalayas.

“It’s all natural in there,” she said. “It’s all authentic everything.”

Salt Cave of Darien can fit up to eight people sitting in recliners during a single session. The cavern includes a water cascade and lamps to light the area. The inside of the cave is covered with Himalayan salt on the walls and on the ground, O’Donnell said.

The salt itself contains 84 essential minerals as well as negative ions — minerals the body needs at all times, and the negative ions can help to relax the body, she said.

“They (negative ions) push out all of the positive ions in our body that we have from stress and electronic charges,” O’Donnell said. “Then you’re left feeling relaxed.”

Growing up, O’Donnell said she always wanted to be an attorney, and she still loves it, but she needed to find something with a different environment.

“Something I could create to help me relax and to help other people relax,” she said.

In adult sessions, customers are able to relax in the cavern’s reclining chairs while listening to calming music. Sessions are typically 25 minutes for $25, or 45 minutes for $45. The sessions can also include yoga or meditation. Private cave rentals for a happy hour setting is available for families and friends.

O’Donnell said Salt Cave of Darien is child friendly, as well. The cavern has children sessions that allow kids to play with toys and the salt while taking in the nutrients in the air.

“They get the benefits of it while they just get to play,” she said.

Health aspects of the salt cave are based on the teachings in halotherapy, a practice that has been around for centuries.

“It was discovered more so around World War I,” she said, when wounded soldiers were being treated in a makeshift hospital within the subterranean levels of a salt mine. Workers noticed people were healing better than in other locations, O’Donnell said.

“Since then, it’s been discovered how great it’s been in terms of help for people with respiratory illnesses,” she said.

For the future, O’Donnell is looking to include a singular room for solo sessions. She also said she wants to broaden the uses for the salt cave, including adding new styles of therapy like reflexology.

O’Donnell said her profession has helped her take a measured and step-by-step approach to opening and maintaining her new business.

“Real estate transactions are very methodical,” O’Donnell said. “I kind of approached it the same way.”

dj.simmons@, 203-842-2568