By Kierstin Hill
Apotheque Lifestyle Spa resides in what long-time Oceansider’s call the “Bunker House” - an old brick building that built in 1886 located on Cleveland Street. The building itself has an incredible story to tell (if only walls could talk!), but what Michelle Bartok and her team at Apotheque have done with the business that resides within those walls is just as incredible.
Bartok started in the Spa Industry some 28 years ago when she began manufacturing specialized product for resorts and spas. The manufacturing company, Innovative Body Science, completely customizes each product sold to resorts and spas around the world. A product made for Hawaii would have a different makeup than a product made for Japan. After so much growth and experience in the manufacturing side of the spa industry, Michelle decided it was time to open what she called a “show room” for the best of the best of her product. Alas, Apotheque Lifestyle Spa in Oceanside was born.
Bartok wanted to incorporate all the aspects of the spa lifestyle she loved most – wellness, spirituality, nutrition, fitness, and of course her amazing product. She combined all the necessities of a spa lifestyle under one roof and brought it to Oceanside. And what became of that was the genius Apotheque Lifestyle Spa - Apotheque (pronounced apoth – e – KEY) offers a consortium of innovate products and services customized to give the customer the best spa experience possible.
Always dreaming and imagining the next creative escapade is the number one reason why Michelle has been so successful over the years. Apotheque Lifestyle Spa was named “Best place to find ZEN” by San Diego Magazine in 2014. Her KEY was when she found like-minded people who supported her dream and everything has grown from there. Dana Steindorf and Eden Castro-Mettert are the overseeing curators (managers!) of the building and spa business. Dana is the Acupuncturist and Eden is the head therapist and fitness director. Together they have attracted a team of lifestyle mentors to help each guest customize his/her wellbeing program. This is unique from other day or resort spas in the whole body and community aspect. Another aspect of the business that separates Apotheque from other businesses, and yet another reason for success, is the membership option for clients. Not only does the membership make it financially feasible for people to enjoy massages, facials and acupuncture on a monthly basis but also it encourages people to be accountable for their own wellbeing by taking part in a healthy lifestyle.
Apotheque stems from the word Apothecary meaning “man’s search for wellness.” And that is just what this spa strives to do. In the past, people would hold the title “Apothecary” which is the equivalent of what we could call the combination of a doctor and pharmacist today. These Apothecary’s would diagnose illnesses, prescribe treatments and give medication. Each treatment was entirely customized for each patient’s ailments and needs – just like what Apotheque Lifestyle Spa does today. Apothecary’s are still prevalent in Europe and Latin America today. The US has modern-day pharmaceutical companies and western medicine has taken over the Apothecaries from the 1800’s. But the Bunker House still survives today - offering ancient wisdom and old world remedies.
In 1886, Theodore Bunker built a two-story brick building on the corner of 4th and Cleveland. The first floor served as a general store and the second floor was utilized as the family’s living quarters and boarding house. Years later the building was renamed the Traveler’s Hotel and in the 1940’s acquired a seedy reputation known for “hourly clientele.” Ralph and Ella Rogers purchased it in 1947 and turned it into a music store downstairs, but still kept the hotel features upstairs. After Ralph Rogers was found murdered in 1976, the building fell to disarray. Over the decades many people tried to revive the building, but none were successful, that is until Michelle and her team acquired it.
She renovated the entire building from top to bottom and opened the spa in early 2011. Shortly after that, the Succulent Café opened adjacent to Apotheque making Michelle’s dream of a lifestyle “hang out” spot even more attainable. Visitors are encouraged to relax and drink tea on the back patio, after enjoying a spa service. Michelle’s dream of offering customers a beautiful local oasis to find their community coffee, get a massage or facial, or take a wellness class has become a reality.
Apotheque Lifestyle Spa is only at the beginning of its potential. They are growing every year with the help of local support and increased tourism. The list of services and classes they offer is growing to accommodate every unique client need. Apotheque incorporates all sorts of healthy living aspects to not only provide a one-time service for their clients, but also to teach people how to take care of themselves long term so they can live well, live healthy and most importantly, live happy.
More details about Apotheque Lifestyle Spa can be found here.