Taking On History

By Peggy O’Dell

When Lois Lombardo bought Mount Clemens’ historic Martha Washington Hotel building, she knew it came with a wealth of rich history. The hotel was built in 1910 by Dr. Joseph Croman Sr. to accommodate travelers who came to town to soak in the world-famous healing mineral baths. It also housed his medical practice where he would see patients. He would often have patients stay in a hotel room where he could more easily give them the care they needed. “It’s the last hotel from the mineral bath era still standing. Dr. Croman built the hotel to offer care and health to people, either through the mineral baths or his medical care,” Lombardo said.

Over the years the building has been used as a sanitarium, an apartment building, and for office space. When Lois bought the building in 2007 and moved her Olympia Salon & Spa into the larger space, it just seemed right. “I felt that the building should be about healing and a peaceful atmosphere. A place to rest. This would be, in my mind, continuing to follow the history of the building and its original purpose in being built by Dr. Croman,” she said.

Lois embraces the importance of self-care and encourages men and women alike to slow down and take some time just for themselves. Maybe treat yourself to a fresh new haircut or color. Get a manicure and a relaxing foot massage. Have your make-up done by a professional and see yourself in a whole new way. Self-care is about relaxation and renewal, however you choose to do it. “We are never ‘turned off’ anymore. Everybody is just go, go, go all the time,” said Lombardo. “It’s so relaxing here and we want people to leave feeling relaxed, pampered and happy.”

The upper levels of the Olympia Salon & Spa house the private spa suite and the new spiritual suite.

The spa suite is 1,000 square feet of space dedicated to all things pampering. It can be booked for private gatherings of up to 15 people and is popular for bridal parties and birthday parties. “Holding parties here brings a great energy to the spa. Everyone’s laughing and enjoying themselves. That’s what this building was meant for,” said Lombardo.

Guests of the spa suite can bring in their own food and drinks to be enjoyed in the beautiful dining room. There is an area for manicures and pedicures, a changing room, and a massage room for two with a private bath. Any salon service offered on the main floor, except for haircuts and color, can be enjoyed in the spa suite.

The spiritual suite is a place for quiet reflection and calming vibes. The spa hosts spiritual classes, readings, yoga and workshops for creating and connecting with your inner self. Lois calls it “A place for healing in a different way.”

Two years ago, Lois acquired the last open mineral water well in Mount Clemens. Spa guests can take a step back in time and experience a mineral bath in one of the hotel’s original clawfoot tubs. Lois doesn’t have a direct supply line from the well yet, so the tubs are filled from large containers of mineral water stored in the spa, and then topped off with tap water to warm it. “I have so many plans to bring back the original Mount Clemens mineral bath experience. Especially the option to soak in the water in its natural state, direct from the well,” she said.

During the mineral bath era, bathers were encouraged to soak in the mineral water for 20 minutes a day for three weeks to get the full benefit. The water was so rich in minerals, bathers would float to the top of the tub unless they were weighted down. The minerals would be absorbed into the skin and were credited with helping with arthritis, many skin conditions, and general aches and pains. “We have had people of all ages try a mineral bath. First time bathers are amazed at how good they feel, and we get lots of repeat bathers after they try it,” said Lombardo.

As the owner of the last mineral water well and the last hotel from the mineral bath era, Lois feels privileged to be able to bring back such a big part of Mount Clemens’ rich history. “I’m just the caretaker of this old building, not the owner. I feel that I am carrying on what Dr. Corman started so many years ago. Maintaining the building is a labor of love,” she said.

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