storyIreland’s Wild Atlantic Way offers visitors an array of amazing activities, including relaxing back into a luxurious steaming bath of fresh seawater and wild, organic seaweed. Recently we spoke with Neil Walton, founder of Voya Seaweed Baths.

What are your own roots?
I am from Sligo, just around the corner from Strandhill. I have been heavily involved in Sports from the age of 8, starting out with cross country running, then got into swimming galas and finally took up cycling. At the age of 13 I specialized in Triathlons and went on to represent my country right up to my mid 20’s.

How and when did you get involved with Voya?
I set up Voya Seaweed Baths because from my amazement of the recovery after using the old seaweed baths in Enniscrone after hard training sessions. I networked with two universities to test the properties of seawater and seaweed and to try and find out why I was having such positive recovery results after having a seaweed bath. I have a back ground in sports science so this also help me get answers to the positive effects of seaweed baths. We found that seawater and seaweed is very alkaline by nature, thus helping the body to get rid of the lactic acid cause by exercise. The alginate gel is fantastic as a natural moisturizer, and the iodine in the seaweed and water also has amazing positive help benefits.

What are the challenges of the job?
Working with nature for harvesting seaweed along the Wild Atlantic Coast in Sligo can be very challenging. However the job never gets dull.

What are the rewards?
The main rewards are the ability to work with such a wonderful renewable resource that is seaweed, and the amazing health benefits it gives our loyal customers.

Who is your typical client?
Our clients range from all types of tourist from around the world, and funny enough when we opened in June 2000 we were booked out for the first 4 days with Canadians who were doing a world cycling tour. They were lovely people with great stories to tell. We also have a large repeat indigenous market in Sligo and Ireland. We would also have a lot of remedial clients with skin conditions, stress relief, back / joint aliments, and a lot of special needs clients would come with there careers for relaxation purposes.

What do they experience?
Stress release, relaxation, effective control of skin conditions, relief from muscular / back and joint problems, and overwhelming sense of well being : )

In your opinion, what is the Wild Atlantic Way?
In my opinion, the Wild Atlantic Way is a platform to show the world the wild beauty that Ireland has to offer, when you travel the coast of Sligo you get a sense of what it truly means to live here on the west coast, you cannot convey that life / engery in words you have to experience it.

How has it helped your business?
The WAW is amazing, and it has given the world a taste of what is on offer on the West Coast of Ireland. We have seen business pick up, and the tourist truly have a genuine appreciation and a love for what they have experienced.

What are you future plans for the business?
We are going to double in size by the end of 2016 to be the biggest seaweed baths and seaweed spa in the world, also we are expanding our VOYA Range of Seaweed Organic beauty products (Voya) by four-fold also by the end of 2016 to be the biggest seaweed organic brand in the world using sustainable wild Alantic seaweed.