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August 17. 2014 8:45PM

After hand injury, Manchester spa owner didn't think she would ever be able to work again


 


In Manchester to attend the Quilt Show, Erin Bragdon of Sunapee treated herself to a pedicure from Spa Within manager/technician Anne Dalton. The spa is on the third floor of the Radisson Hotel in Manchester. (Bruce Taylor/Union Leader)

A RECENT voicemail suggested I check out a new spa in the city called The Spa Within. Someone, I thought, had stolen the name of the spa that used to be inside Elliot Hospital. After finding the company’s website, I saw they had taken the former spa’s logo, too.

Then, in a picture of the staff, I saw Anne Dalton front-and-center, and realized the visionary behind the original Spa Within had returned to the world of pampering perfection and resurrected her old spa in a new space.

The Spa Within is now, well, within the Radisson Hotel in Manchester. The third-floor, atrium-like space is adjacent to the hotel’s pool and fitness center overlooking Elm Street and Veterans Park. It offers all the traditional spa services you would expect — pedicures, manicures, massages and facials — but also has a physician on staff to provide treatments such as Botox and facial fat contouring.

The Spa Within also has “Vinnie the Barber,” who provides gentlemen’s services including haircuts, shoe shines, and those old-timey straight-edge shaves with hot towels and specially prepared brushed-on lather. A full menu of services can be found at thespawithin.net.

Dalton opened the original spa at Elliot Hospital in the late 1990s, but had to leave the business after a 2003 battle with her garage door left her with four crushed fingers and severe nerve damage.

“I didn’t think I was ever going to be able to work again,” she said. Dalton went on to a series of less physical jobs at other companies and non-profits, leaving her 25 percent ownership of the spa to Elliot’s oncology patients so they could have free services. The Spa Within at Elliot Hospital closed altogether several years ago because the hospital needed the space.

When Dalton’s hand injury started to heal and she realized she could go back to salon work, she asked for and received the spa name from the Elliot. She had her eye on specific space at the Radisson, and had pestered the hotel to let her open a spa there for years.

Perseverance is a trait Dalton has had to use many times on her journey through the New Hampshire spa industry. “Never give up,” was definitely the theme of her story she shared with me last week, while giving me a beautiful pedicure during my visit to check the place out.

The former owner of Infomark Advertising, Dalton had several medical practitioners as clients. It was during a business meeting at an oncologist’s office in the 1980s that she was first struck with a notion that cancer patients and other people facing medical issues could really use some personal touch and pampering. She wanted to have a mobile salon provide services to the oncologist’s chemotherapy patients during their treatments.

Dalton, a very business-savvy woman, faced roadblock after roadblock and busted right through.

A mobile salon was against state law; she would find a hospital to host her instead.

She could not find a salon to do the mobile treatments; she went to school and got her own nail technician and esthetician licenses.

The CEO overseeing the city’s two hospitals at the time would not give her the time of day, so she stalked him — sending him pizzas, ice cream sundaes and floral arrangements that spelled out her name.

The hospital would only give her a fraction of the space she wanted. She took it, knowing it was a foot in the door and she could expand once they got used to the idea.

I told Dalton I would have abandoned the idea at the first roadblock.

After all, she had a career, and was married to a surgeon. In her shoes, I would be gladly receiving daily pedicures rather than giving them. “I believed in it,” she said, with the same gleam in her eye I am sure she had when she got the idea more than 20 years ago. And she really enjoys doing the work, especially that personal connection with her clients.

The newest incarnation of The Spa Within is not within a hospital, but Dalton said the business upholds the same standards of cleanliness and care as before. The skin and hair products are either all-natural or medically approved. And everyone on staff is trained on how to treat and respond to different ailments and medical conditions, which clients are asked to report on a very extensive form prior to their service.

The $40 pedicure Dalton gave my exceptionally gnarly toes seemed competitively priced, and I left feeling like I got quite a good deal for such a fancy place. But when I was showing my husband the spa’s menu of all the much more expensive facial rejuvenation therapies I had decided I have to have, I realized that Dalton is still a very savvy business person. The pedicure price got me in the door — another roadblock taken down.

Love your neighbor

With the rioting and political unrest in some cities around the United States and in the rest of the world, it seems this Thursday’s Love Your Neighbor Coalition picnic could not come at a better time. This will be the third event for the coalition, started by a loosely knit group of individuals and non-profits in September.

“Our mission is to make Manchester a more welcoming place for everyone,” said Karri Makinen, who is originally from Walpole, but who moved to Manchester last year as an AmeriCorp VISTA volunteer. Makinen said the Manchester coalition was modeled after Concord’s Love Your Neighbor group, which began several years ago after racist graffiti was written on the homes of some refugee families there.

The Manchester group did not have a similar traumatic event to rally around. But, our city has many small non-profits working to help immigrants find their way in Manchester. By bringing all these groups together for occasional public events, Love Your Neighbor may help prevent an atrocity like the one that happened in Concord.

The goal of Thursday’s Love Your Neighbor picnic, from 5 to 7 p.m. in Victory Park, is to introduce the city’s immigrants and refugees to some of the entertainment and recreation available to them in the city. The event is free, but you have to bring your own picnic. It will coincide with the nearby Downtown Farmers’ Market if attendees want to buy some food there.

Makinon, a 24-year-old graduate of Saint Michael’s College in Vermont, said her time in Americorps is over, and she is in the process of landing her first full-time job. But she will continue to organize Love Your Neighbor events because she sees real value in bringing together all of these groups with similar missions.

“Our hope is that this facilitates more working together and more collaboration,” she said. To find out more about the upcoming picnic and other events the Love Your Neighbor Coalition is planning, visit www.facebook.com/LYNManchesterNH and sign up for their email newsletter.

Are you one?

The non-profit team at Families in Transitions is hoping for at least 2,500 people to join them at Veterans Park on Thursday, Sept. 4, so they can educate the community about childhood homelessness while entertaining them with a mini battle of the bands.

Families in Transition has been working since 1991 to help individuals and families end the cycle of homelessness.

This new event called I AM ONE: New Hampshire Day to End Childhood Homelessness, will feature food, drinks and music by three New Hampshire bands performing at the FIT for Stardom Music Competition. The winner gets time in a recording studio and an appearance on Frank FM’s “Local Music Show.”

The fun runs from 5 to 9:30 p.m. In addition, through a variety of interactive ways, guests will learn about childhood homelessness. Learn more about the event at www.fitnh.org.

NH365.ORG Event of the Week

School will begin before we know it, and Intown Manchester is hosting kind of a last hurrah for families with a princesses- and pirates-themed Family Fest at Veterans Park this Saturday. Intown Manchester is hosting this for free from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., featuring activities, crafts, healthy snacks and more from local businesses and organizations.

There will also be interactive, on-stage performances all day long and real, live princesses and pirates. For more information on this, and other last-minute summer events, visit www.NH365.org.

If you have an item for Scene in Manchester, write to Scene@UnionLeader.com.


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