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Bringing the World Home

by Julie Miles / January 23, 2020

It’s no small feat, but for Jodie Appel, offering Asheville a curated collection of healing found from her worldly travels is just what she has set out to do. With the Asheville Salt Cave team, they have created a unique oasis — right in the heart of Asheville — that is truly transportive. It’s an experience that meets people where they are, and offers something for all the senses.


on the anthropology of being

Anthropology: the study of people, past and present, with a focus on understanding the human condition both culturally and biologically.

The saying, “wherever you go, there you are,” rings true when you ask Jodie Appel of the Asheville Salt Cave about how she experiences the world. She will tell you of far away adventures, but not in the typical, simplistic way of, “this happened, then this, ...” What she conveys is an immersive experience where she shares the sights, sounds, motions and scents of a place. You feel like you’ve been there with her.

Travel is her reprieve. When in a far away land, she mines experiences, and then brings home what she feels will be helpful to people’s healing journeys. From her first salt cave experience in Greece, to her latest Hammam (a Turkish steam bath) in Turkey, the details you find at the Asheville Salt Cave are personal.

Comprised of salt from different pockets of the world: Poland, the Dead Sea, and the Himalayas of Pakistan, the salt cave is a place where you can clock out of your day, unplug, and take the weight of the world off your shoulders.

‘That’s why I do what I do. It’s always a magical thing to see someone leave here with the ability to walk more peacefully in the world again,’ says Jodie.


on healing

PP: What makes the salt cave have such a healing quality?

J: “Salt, along with water, is essentially what we are made of, so by reconnecting with that can be a powerful and deeply healing experience. The salt energetically has something, and it holds strong healing qualities to the body internally.”

Jodie holds a simple, but powerful belief: that healing does not need to be complicated. Just sitting in a supportive space like the salt cave, either alone or with community can do the trick. “I think both are essential,” she says about the healing qualities of individual and group work. 


{photo credit, Julie Miles}


‘There is such a wide variety to healing. The dynamics of group and individual healing are both important. Being able to be comfortable in a space with yourself or with others is a reflective experience for a lot of people. We’re just a tiny nugget of someone’s healing process.’

PP: You just recently moved to your current location? I imagine that was no small feat.

<laughter diffuses the room>

J: “It was a process,” she says. “When we were at the old location downtown, I just got the feeling we could do more, be more. I would walk past this building and think, ‘that would be a cool place to be,’ and it just quickly unfolded. As I was talking with one of my assistants, we looked at each other and said, ‘It’s time. And — she’s coming with us.’ ” <the cave, that is>


{photo credit, Julie Miles}


on moving a cave

PP: How long did it take to move the cave?

<another release of laughter>

J: “What took a week to move, took a year and a half process of creating the building, designing the space, and letting it fluctuate a million ways and navigating what would work best for our guests. Collaborating with builders, a local stone mason, and a lot of heavy lifting later, it’s the perfect location. And, with lots of ample parking!” she adds. 


{photo credit, Julie Miles}


PP: What was the original plan for the new space? And, were there new things you wanted to incorporate?

J: She explains that they really didn’t know how it was going to unfold. First, they dealt with the demands at hand: a larger cave space, and adding a second cave just for couples: “it was one of our top requests.” There is a new Wellness Studio for herbalism classes, a Reiki certification course, and may be used for spa services, classroom events and it might be rentable.

And, the latest project coming soon, is a Hammam. “This definitely came from my travels in Turkey,” she says. “That has been one of the harder build outs with the uniqueness of the space. It essentially is a steam room with a service that is about exfoliation. With this, there is a lot of letting go, but a lot of letting go physically through the skin. It is a skin ritual. It will have exfoliation, soap supplies, a bit of massage, and maybe some oils. We’re still fine-tuning as we develop the space. Our goal is to have some community sessions, like it is in other places in the world. In America, most of them are held as private group sessions. We’re just trying to push the boundaries and figure out what that looks like for our purposes. Our intention is to assist in deeply letting go of the external weight that we walk around with. The skin is our largest organ. The layers of lotions and perfumes as well as environmental elements that are absorbed by the skin do not allow the skin to express what internally wants to come out. So I think we are trying on a healing level, to put in lots of different mannerisms and things to utilize.”

Jodie will also be incorporating a Thai herbal compress service that she learned on a recent trip to Thailand.

asheville-salt-cave-people-relaxing{photo credit, Gemma Dalton}



{photo credit, Julie Miles}


on life, prior to the salt cave

Leading up to the creation of the salt cave, Jodie was a massage therapist for both people and animals for fifteen years. Before that, she was a veterinary technician helping wild animals and those in emergency situations. “That will really get you to work on your stuff,” she says. During that time, she helped a special chimpanzee that she will soon have the privilege of revisiting at a care center in Georgia. The quiet connection with primates has been healing for her, and a fascination since she was a little girl. “I couldn’t get enough of Dian Fossey, and of course, Jane [Goodall].”

Soon she will leave for Guatemala where she will get to spend time with primates in the wild. “Travel fills my soul,” she answers, when asked how she takes care of herself amidst a job caring for others.

‘I think healing is a really long path. It is important to meet people where they are, and gently allow the process to happen.’


on the salt cave team

“I have an amazing team here,” she adds, “and I totally trust them.” She shares her leadership style: “we’re all steering this ship,” she says. “I hold just one view. I trust everyone’s skill set that they will do their job how they best see fit.”

PP: Do you all use the Salt Cave as a team?

<I wonder, as I noticed how her team has such a cooperative, close-knit feel after our team at Platinum Group spent a blissed-out hour in the cave together over the holiday. (thanks, Michael Murphy!)>

J: “We finally spent time in this new cave for our holiday party,” she says. “It’s hard getting everyone [twenty people] together, even for a meeting. But we all did the salt cave, and it was really sweet.”

The employees also have access to the cave so they can rejuvenate and share their experiences with curious, first-time guests.


{photo credit, Gemma Dalton}

on visiting

Upon your visit to the Salt Cave, you will be greeted with a calm, inviting atmosphere. There is a quiet nook to place your shoes and belongings, and upon entering the cave, you will be greeted with salt, from floor to ceiling: beautiful salt floor tiling and soft, granulated salt sand, large salt rocks on the walls, and small salt rocks suspended from the ceiling with fisherman’s netting. Choose to sit in a gravity-free chair, or relax on the floor with comfy blankets and pillows. The cave is filled with serene light that both glows through the salt and bounces off the salt walls. And one fun tidbit — when you go, pay close attention: to reflect the Rock Pirate’s name, the stone mason has hidden two tiny skulls within the cave. See if you can spot them!

and finally, on doing what you love

PP: How has Platinum Group helped you to Do What You Love?

J: “I am good at what I do, but it is always challenging to fit in the paperwork that goes with running a business. The team at Platinum Group has always been so kind, understanding and helpful to me. I love you guys!”

Platinum Group is an HCM Payroll & Accounting firm in Asheville that celebrates our wonderful clients, keeping business local, and elevating our community by volunteer outreach. To see how we can support your business, visit us at: www.platinum-grp.com

{black and white photography, Julie Miles}


Tags: Health & Wellness Local Business Personal Development

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Julie Miles

Julie Miles

Julie’s passion is to act as a liaison between the Platinum team, their wonderful clients, and the community, striving to tell their stories and make connections.

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