Away, Alone, and by One’s Self

Away, Alone, and By One’s Self

Ishnala, a unique retreat in North Bend that opened late last year, offers guests an escape, a space to reflect, and an opportunity to learn tools that will keep them healthy in the long-term. 

About 40 miles from the hustle and bustle of Tacoma, a tranquil getaway is tucked away in the mountains of North Bend. Eight acres of natural beauty and total seclusion are revealed as a humble wooden gate — with the retreat’s name, Ishnala, carved into the wood — swings open. 

The collection of gorgeously designed cabins, massage huts, saunas, and a meditation studio that dots the property, all set practically in the shadow of Mount Si, is unlike anything the area has
seen before.

“We all need time to get away,” said Diann Pattermann, 70, who founded Ishnala and who has devoted her life to holistic wellness. Her voice, gentle and soothing, served as a soundtrack for the parts of the day that weren’t loud with silence. 

Photo by: Jami Davis

“We are so bombarded constantly with agendas, stress, and toxins,” she said. “This is a place where you can begin to learn how to escape that. How to bring quiet back into your life.” 

Pattermann’s intention for the retreat is to provide people with much-needed solitude and space for self-reflection. This goal is reflected in the name, Ishnala, which is an Indian word meaning “away, alone, and by one’s self.” It is also reflected in the structure of a day retreat, during which up to nine guests partake in certain activities — like guided meditation, food-making demonstrations, or exercise classes — together, while being left to explore the property and book their own massages and sauna times for the rest of the day.

Pattermann is an expert in wellness: She has spent 40 years committing herself to nutrition, meditation, and fitness and teaching at some of the best spas in the world. Now, she’s passing her wealth of knowledge and passion on to her Ishnala guests. 

“Ishnala really is a culmination of everything I have done,” she said. 

With the help of her handy husband, the property — which they had bought 13 years prior — was transformed over the last two years from a place of residence to a fully functional retreat, complete with a meditation studio, a workout room, two massage huts, two saunas, a hot tub (with a stunning view of Mount Si), and a walking labyrinth. The two cabins on the property serve as home to Pattermann, her husband, and her 97-year-old mother — who, like Pattermann, looks and acts a good 20 years younger than she is. 

Photo by: Jami Davis

The highly personal nature of Ishnala is one element of many that makes it unique. Pattermann is welcoming each guest into her home, her kitchen, and her life, giving permission to explore and learn at leisure. 

With this set-up, women are allowed to tap into their inner child: Work emails are forgotten, and phones are

owed in car gloveboxes. People have the time and space they need to be intentionally curious and to escape the fast-paced reality that defines our modern world. For six hours, daily anxieties fall away, and guests can just sit and be. 

“The property lends itself to you,” Pattermann said. “You find a place to be alone and (can) feel very comfortable, like it is your place for the day. I don’t know why you are coming in, but I hope that by coming in, you can look inside yourself and identify what it is you need more of.”  

To help tailor each experience to specific needs of guests, Pattermann offers three different types of day retreats. A Mind Retreat focuses on meditation, journaling, and wood walks; a Wellness Retreat goes into disease prevention and food philosophy; and a Body Retreat offers trail running, core and strength classes, and body philosophy. 

No matter the retreat, however, guests have full use of the grounds; can take classes; and are served a delicious, organic, homemade meal that can be taken to-go in a basket and enjoyed anywhere on the property. 


Photo by: Jami Davis

Though Ishnala hasn’t been open for long — Pattermann started offering classes in the studio spaces in late 2018 and opened it up for six-hour retreat days early this year — it is clear that she has thought carefully of each and every detail before ushering guests into her space. From the journals labeled with each guest’s name that are handed out with pencils, to the shuttles that are available to cart guests around the property, everything is provided, convenient, and easy. Pattermann and her small team of female staff are on-hand for anything you might need, and they do so without being intrusive. 

Beyond providing a comfortable space that feels like paradise — or the best single-day vacation you’ve ever taken — Pattermann wants guests to walk away feeling as though they have learned information that will help them to care for themselves better. Depending on the retreat, she demonstrates meditation, a workout routine, or how to make healthy and natural juice in five minutes. It’s all information that can be applied at home. 

“I want to share with everyone my version of making all of these things convenient for myself, because if it’s not convenient, it can’t be consistent,” Pattermann said. 

And there’s no better person than Pattermann to convince you of the benefits of taking care of yourself consistently: At 70, she said that she still has the same energy level she had in her 30s — an energy that is readily apparent in everything she does. Likewise, her mother, almost 100 years old, moves with ease and prefers to be unassisted.  

“I don’t agree that you necessarily have to feel (worse) as you grow older,” Pattermann said. “You just have to continue to move and continue to eat well. It really is that simple.” 

After all, she said, we have 24 hours in every day, and all you need to do to maintain your health is dedicate a couple of those hours to exercise, meditation, and healthy eating. Six hours spent at Ishnala is about relaxing and reflecting, yes, but it’s also about learning and practicing those habits that Pattermann has mastered over time. 

“You learn how to take care of yourself — and how to love taking care of yourself — and you’ll see,” she said. “The payoff is enormous.”

Photo by: Jami Davis

Yes, you should definitely go to Olympus Spa 

There’s a reason your friends have been raving about this Korean spa for years. It’s time to dive in and experience it for yourself.

Courtesy Olympus Spa

If you live anywhere near Tacoma, chances are word of mouth has gotten back to you about that one spa. Olympus Spa, a women’s-only Korean spa in an unassuming building in South Tacoma, is the place your coolest friends go for their girls’ day or bachelorette parties. 

And maybe you’ve always wanted to go — but you’ve been hesitant to, thanks to your friends’ mention that it’s a nude spa. 

Well, yes and no. There are a lot of elements to Olympus — a sea salt room, a charcoal room, a mud and jade room, a quiet area for tea-drinking, spaces for massages and for full-body scrubs, a small café, and a section with myriad tubs of different temperatures — and nudity is required only in the pool area. Everywhere else, you’re swaddled in a robe and cap provided by Olympus, unless you’re in the process of having a service like a scrub or a massage. 

And here’s the thing: There’s something freeing about being in a space where women of all different shapes and sizes are existing unapologetically in their bodies. With an average of 100 to 200 people visiting Olympus’s popular Tacoma location every day — yes, even on weekdays — there’s a degree of anonymity that is comforting. That, and the spa’s employees do an excellent job making everyone feel comfortable: There’s a warm, gentle, and friendly atmosphere created by the approximately 40 female employees. 

This welcoming spirit aligns with the motivation of Myong Lee, who opened the spa in June 1997 as a gift to his wife, Young Lee. 

“My parents believed that women often wear so many hats — as moms, daughters, sisters, friends, wives — and often, each role is overwhelmed by so many responsibilities,” said Tai Lee, son of Myong and Young, who now serves as the president of the Tacoma location. “They wanted to create that special place for women to heal, restore, and recharge so that they can continue to be strong for their loved ones.” 

Any amount of time spent at Olympus Spa is just that: restorative. Whether you walk in and get a day pass — $38 to take advantage of all of the baths and heated rooms for the entire day — or lean in and treat yourself with multiple services, like the traditional Korean Body Scrub, the Body Moisturizing and Cucumber Face Mask, and Cupping Massage Therapy (all highly recommended), you’ll leave feeling like a new person. 

“Simply just witnessing our clients truly enjoying their time here and sharing their lives being healed and restored (is so gratifying),” said Lee. “Making positive connections in physical, mental, and spiritual aspects with fellow clients . . . is the reward we cherish each day of running Olympus.” 

The positive energy, indulgent services, and heated spaces at Olympus are the perfect combination to chase away the winter blues — and to treat yourself to a sense of total freedom and relaxation. Make this the year you finally give yourself that gift: We promise it will be worth it. 

Celebrity-worthy treatments at Point Ruston

Grit City Wellness brings a dazzling menu of spa and health options

Courtesy Grit City Wellness

Starting at your fingertips, the pressure builds. You’ve just been strapped into a compression therapy set that envelops both your arms and your chest. Bit by bit, the chambers fill with air, squeezing and lengthening your upper body. A strange sensation comes over you — from the tightness comes release. You pay attention to the ways your fingers tingle and your breath grows deeper. The apparatus, which felt clunky and awkward at first don, now feels closer to a deep hug.

Compression therapy is one of the many offerings at Grit City Wellness in Point Ruston that is cutting-edge and not readily available in the South Sound — until now. The new fitness and recovery studio boasts one of the first Somadome meditation pods in the state, electric cryotherapy chamber, a vitamin bar, and an infrared sauna, among many classes and services.

“We’re getting into the territory of what nobody is doing,” said owner Chyna Willman, who acquired the space in January 2019. She used to travel frequently for her high-pressure job as a sales director. On her travels she was always seeking health and wellness methods to help herself feel better — like many busy people trying to manage it all, she was burnt out and needed remedies that worked. She was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, which affected her hormones and impacted her thyroid. Endometriosis and fibroids plagued her. “In concert with these issues my body gradually became more heavy, immobile, and unbelievably tired regardless of rest,” she said.

She spent a lot of time in New York, where she discovered methods that helped her feel better. “In my search I found whole body cryotherapy. Unlike the other treatments the response in my body was immediate. My pain was reduced, energy improved, and I slept better that night. This blew my mind, especially the sleeping part — because I had such difficulty sleeping on the road. There was nowhere here at home I could try the treatment again. So, every trip I took, if I could find a local cryotherapy business — I made time to fit a treatment in.”

Courtesy Grit City Wellness

So, what is cryotherapy and all that other stuff? Cryotherapy reduces inflammation and stimulates the body’s natural recovery response when the cabin temperature drops to -170 degrees. The extreme cold results in increased energy, cell rejuvenation, immune system boost, and overall self-healing. The Somadome meditation pod features chromotherapy and helps you delve into a self-guided meditation session with inaudible frequencies and colorful lights. Other amenities include a Himalayan salt brick wall, wellness products like kombucha and CBD products, and other nice touches like fresh towels spritzed with essential oils.

She also enlisted the professionalism and knowledge of health professionals to expand offerings at the center including resident acupuncturist Michele Morken, physical therapist Dr. Alika Antone, and personal trainer, Theresa Taylor.

“Grit City Wellness is not only the first to offer some of these services in the South Sound, but also the first to offer this combination of services and bio-hacking in the entire region,” she said. “Numerous visitors have shared their excitement with our offering saying, ‘Tacoma needed this’ and that fills me up — because I need Tacoma, too.”

SAVI Day Spa

Courtesy SAVI Day Spa

You don’t have to be visiting Tacoma on a trip to take advantage of SAVI Day Spa inside of Hotel Murano. In fact, there are a lot of reasons locals should spend a day treating themselves at Hotel Murano checking out its art collection and delicious bites and drinks — but the spa experience is definitely a must-not-miss. 

Cozy up in a robe, kick your feet up, and choose from an extensive spa menu of just about anything you could ask for. Whether you’re looking to get a facial, massage, wax, peel, or even to get your makeup done, you can find it at SAVI Day Spa. To boot, Hotel Murano also has Salon Miro right next door, where expert stylists can refresh your cut and/or color or get you ready to go for a wedding or party.  

Sound Foot Massage 

Your feet do a lot for you — and how often do you give them a break and have them pampered? Probably not often enough. Sound Foot Massage wants to change that by making foot massages more affordable and accessible, with two locations in University Place and Renton and with no membership fee required. 

And don’t worry: They do more than focus on your feet. A head-to-toe aromatherapy foot massage includes a traditional Chinese foot bath along with a soothing massage of the scalp, hands, and feet. Full-body massages with aromatherapy can include a hot stone treatment at no additional cost, and massages can be customized to focus on any area from 30 to 90 minutes.

Seven Inlets Spa

You’re down in Shelton at Little Creek Casino Resort, and you need a moment to yourself away from it all. Lucky for you, Seven Inlets Spa is a hidden gem in the casino that’s open seven days a week. Spa services range from massages and organic facials to pedicures and sugaring. A Seven Inlets Spa Pass is complimentary with any 50-minute service and provides access to the sauna, meditation room, and eucalyptus steam room. 

Spa Apsara 

If you’re looking to add some glamour to your typical massage appointment, Fircrest’s Spa Apsara is the place to do it. Offering services like facials, microblading, mani and pedi treatments, lash extensions, and more, Spa Apsara is locally revered for its excellent customer service and knowledgeable staff. New clients get a 20 percent discount, and services like facials have a maintenance discount to encourage monthly skincare.

Angeline Spa

This spa at Clearwater Casino, named for Chief Seattle’s daughter Princess Angeline, has seven treatment rooms where guests can be pampered by way of massages, facials, body wraps, manicures, and pedicures. Every room has a beautiful view of the clear saltwater from which the Suquamish people took their name, as well as views of the Agate Passage and a serene garden. Private or couples’ suites are available.

ReVive Yoga

Courtesy Revive Yoga

Lakewood has a new serene space in town: ReVive Yoga Co., which officially opened its doors in late fall. Offering both heated and non-heated yoga classes, as well as ongoing workshops on the foundations of yoga, this studio promises to balance both the body and the mind.

Oly Float

You’ve probably heard of sensory deprivation, or flotation therapy, in the last few years. The practice involves floating in a tank of saltwater for about an hour, during which time your body feels weightless and your mind is allowed to become quiet. 

Floating has been credited with improved health and well-being, deepened meditation, relief of physical pain and anxiety, improved sleep, and more. Oly Float is a great place to get started because it offers more than just floating: You can also go there for infrared sauna therapy, CBD massages, craniosacral therapy, and energy work.

is an assistant editor at South Sound magazine. Email her.
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