When the oil and gas industry could no longer provide job security, a husband and wife team looked for a new career, driving them to launch the north-east’s first salt cave.
Donna and Jason Orton, who have been helped by Business Gateway Aberdeen City & Shire, opened the doors to their business in Abercrombie Court, Westhill, just over a year ago.
Since then, customer numbers have soared, with up to 200 hour-long sessions now running each week.
Clients, who suffer from a range of respiratory issues, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and allergies, spend their time relaxing in one of two treatment rooms where the walls and floor are clad in salt.
A specialist machine then finely grinds medical grade salt that is released into the air at prescribed concentration levels for the duration of each session.
The therapy, also known as halotherapy, dates back to the ancient Greeks who sought the benefits offered by naturally occurring salt caves for improved health and wellbeing.
Mrs Orton, who lives in Kintore, said: “We were increasingly aware of the vulnerability of the oil and gas industry and, although we both had good jobs, our working days were getting longer and more stressful which began to impact on our family life, so the timing seemed to lend itself to a total lifestyle change.
“My mum and grandmother are regulars at salt caves in Inverness and Edinburgh, and both had seen a significant reduction in their respective symptoms and an upturn in their general wellbeing.
“My grandmother, who’d had to give up singing due to breathing problems a number of years ago, is now back performing with her choir and she says that’s thanks to the salt cave.”
Carron Taylor, of Business Gateway, said: “Deciding to take a new career path can be a gamble but it’s one that is paying off for Donna and Jason as their enterprise has proven to be a hit.”
Having worked in the nuclear industry in Caithness, Donna moved to Aberdeen in 2014 where she took up a position in commercial leadership in North Sea brownfield and decommissioning while Jason continued to work offshore while studying for a degree in mechanical engineering.