Even those who are self-proclaimed pros at balancing work, family, friends, and hobbies, eventually it all catches up with you and you realize your back is full of knots and your reflection is looking a bit tired. That is where Kris Holland comes in to bring you back to life.
With over 20 years of experience in the spa and hospitality industries, Kris knew that she ultimately wanted to find a way to combine her talents with her love for the water. “As I did a lot of work in treatment rooms and clinical work, I started to find myself feeling very boxed in by those four walls,” said Kris. “I’ve always been a huge outdoor girl. I grew up in Southern California on a surf board and camping with family. I knew I wasn’t meant to be inside forever.” So, when she and her husband met Captain Frank Morgan aboard one of his cruises, ideas started to form. After two years of development, Kris opened Spa on the Water in November 2017, a 4-hour experience aboard the luxury 55-foot house boat the Rosemarie. “I was determined to find a way to work on the water because that is what makes my heart sing,” said Kris. “It’s also very healing and exhilarating for almost every human. We all need to take time out and to take a breath. It’s the number one thing that we don’t do.” As the only excursion of its kind on the west coast (similar services are only offered in India and on Oahu), Kris and her expert crew of estheticians and massage therapists are trained to relax, restore, and revive your soul as you cruise through the Delta waters on a “Spa-cation.” Departing from the Discovery Bay Boat Harbor, guests will receive a signature “EuroCalifornia” facial developed specifically by Kris herself, a custom Swedish massage (or deep tissue if requested), and robe service, as well as hand-crafted gourmet appetizers served with complimentary regional wines and Champagne.
The Rosemarie is the famous houseboat used by Captain Morgan’s Delta Adventures, owned and operated by Frank Morgan and Melinda Lamb. The two-level vessel has plenty of room for groups who want to be pampered together. From the moment you step foot aboard the boat, Kris and her crew make you feel welcome with the Aloha Spirit, something that was engrained in her while studying on Maui at the Holistic Institute. After they lead you to the bottom level to begin the hydration process with berry and mint infused spa water, they then go over what you are to expect during your trip. Kris makes sure to introduce her crew, including her husband Rodney Holland who is a Registered Nurse having worked with John Muir Medical Center in the ICU for 20 years and is aboard in case of any emergency, as well as her assistant Jackie Tucker who has been with Kris since the planning stages. Then each individual person is led upstairs to the top deck where private, separate areas are created with drapes.
Within each room is a massage table adorned with beautiful flowers for you to take home and a plush robe to change into for your comfort. Socks are also put out for those who potentially run cold and are also a gift to take with you. Extra blankets are available if the room temperature is not to your liking, as well as the option to use no blankets at all.
The entire top deck is open-air all the way around, but don’t let that stop you if you’re looking to relax in the chilly winter months. Captain Morgan has thick, plastic covers that can be attached to shield guests from the winds, which makes the area quite warm. Throughout your trip, Kris makes sure to have relaxing spa music playing in the background to accompany the Delta sounds of chirping birds, and soothing water. The occasional speedboat that rushes past adds a surprisingly calming movement to the boat that seems to appropriately enhance whichever service you are experiencing.
Guests begin with either the signature facial or massage, both of which are completely tailored to your needs and concerns. Even if you have special circumstances, like expecting mothers, Kris easily accommodates each person. Kris has dedicated countless hours to finding just the right massage therapists for her business, including therapists who specialize in prenatal massage. She has found therapists from the National Holistic Institute in Emeryville and The Massage Pit Crew in the East Bay, as well as estheticians trained by the Image Skincare Company. During their massage, guests can request the specific level of pressure they need or enjoy, and the masseuses happily make sure you are comfortable with how the service is feeling. The products used include a special base of sweet almond oil and citrus to soothe and soften the skin.
When it is time for your facial, expert trained and licensed estheticians use the finest products from Image Skincare out of Florida, along with Leahlani Skincare handcrafted on the island of Kauai. “The products are comprised of a base of orange blossom, Hawaiian passion fruit, and Kauai honey extracts,” said Kris. Your service begins with an exfoliating honey scrub, followed by a cleansing and facial massage treatment that includes a creamy Vitamin C mask, and finishing with a serum, moisturizer, eye gel, and lip treatment. While the mask is left to work its magic on your skin, the estheticians deliver a relaxing neck, upper back, shoulder, arm, and hand massage.
Once you feel completely relaxed, glowing, and moisturized, it is time to enjoy hand-crafted Spa on the Water recipes of gourmet appetizers, enhanced by regional wines and Champagne chosen from Northern California wineries such as Campos Family Vineyards in Byron. If an alcoholic beverage is not what you are looking for, Kris also offers more of the delicious, fruity spa water from the beginning of your trip. Kris makes sure to provide a variety of foods, taking any food allergies or sensitivities into consideration. The day’s spread can include such delectable dishes as sliced fruit, cheese, and crackers; turkey and olive wraps; zucchini crackers with sundried tomato caviar (a vegan and vegetarian option that includes Kris’ own recipe of lemon cream), and much more.
Guests are welcome to snack and socialize while still in their comfy spa robe as they take in the gorgeous views of the Delta. “I love giving to others the ‘Art of Relaxation,’ to a break and a breath, which is so badly needed,” said Kris. As the cruise comes to an end and you depart the boat, Kris and her crew leave each guest with a departure guest reception, saying “Bye for now. We hope to see you again soon.” Kris then personally hands each individual a gift bag as a token of appreciation.
“I grew up a very, very sick child,” said Kris. “Thankfully my mother was way ahead of her time and got me on a diet of more fresh fruit and vegetables which got me out of having to receive vitamin shots to make up for my body’s deficiency.” Kris also suffered from an ill respiratory system and had to spend three years of her grammar school life in an oxygen tent. Doctors informed her mother that Kris would never be an active child. “Something triggered me; there was no way I was going to spend the rest of my life in that tent.” So, Kris took matters into her own hands. She got outside and started running and trying out for sports teams which ended up leading her to becoming a high-profile athlete in gymnastics and track and field. Kris had her sights set on becoming an Olympian when a terrible fall in gymnastics required her to be carried off the floor. “That experience made me determined to become a coach or trainer so that I could still have that Olympic experience somehow, some way.”
Kris received that opportunity to attend the Olympic games in 2002 as a trainer for the U.S. women’s bobsled team. “I knew nothing about bobsledding at the time, but I certainly wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity,” said Kris. The Olympic door was opened for Kris courtesy of Discovery Bay resident Bonny Warner Simi, who was a three-time luge Olympian and color commentator for CBS Sports. She read an article in a local paper that Kris had written and reached out to her about helping with her flexibility through Pilates work. Kris had earned her personal training credentials from CSU Hayward and Pilates training credentials from Saint Francis Memorial Hospital Center for Dance Medicine. “I knew that was my chance. I made her a proposal to train her for the entire Olympic year for free if she took me with her to the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games as part of her coaching staff.” Bonny agreed, and Kris got the experience of a lifetime.
It was there that Kris began to notice the damaged condition of the younger female athletes’ skin. The athletes spent a lot of time out in harsh, dry conditions with snow and sub-zero weather. All the exposure to the sun could potentially lead to skin disease in future years, so Kris was determined to find a way to fix that.
“That was my missing link,” said Kris. “I knew about the body and about nutrition; now it was time to find out about the skin. It’s our protective covering. We have to take care of that too.” Kris went back to school to become educated in the esthetics sciences and become a licensed esthetician through Paris Beauty College in Concord and continued on to become a practicing esthetician and wellness educator at the Cinta Aveda Institute in San Francisco.
Kris would love to expand Spa on the Water up and down the west coast and to inland lakes of California. “And of course, it would be a dream come true to take our services to Hawaii!” Kris and her expert crew are very excited to welcome you aboard for a luxurious experience that can change your life, even if only for four hours.