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Jan 23 2010

A hidden cottage of the senses

Cottage Aroma Bella

Cottage Aroma Bella

Beneath the distant drone of passing Cessnas, the first measures of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14 in C Sharp Minor can be heard drifting up from a drowsy hedge of late summer hydrangeas. Somewhere in the wild English garden, water splashes over a hidden waterfall and those passing through are swiftly immersed in a feeling of calm and peace. It’s not something you would expect to find off of Fort Trenholm Road – the entrance to the Johns Island Regional Airport – but Peggy and Paul Lieber were not interested in leaving the island which they have come to know as home.

As the owners and founders of Royal Labs Natural Cosmetics, Inc., the first company in the world to create an all natural preservation system for body, hair and skin care products, the Liebers felt that it was time for their business to expand beyond simply manufacturing. They had a vision of a place where people could come and receive five star spa services without having to stay at a five star resort or join an exclusive club. Thus, Cottage Aroma Bella was born.

Nestled in the shadow of its parent company, Royal Labs, Cottage Aroma Bella is a loving recreation of a two hundred year old English cottage. Surrounded by a thickly blooming garden, the heavy wooden doors of the two story Tudor home open into a spacious foyer decorated with 19th century antiques and dominated by a towering stone fireplace. The entire cottage is rife with original English countryside paintings, exquisite linens, hand-embroidered fabrics, intricate woodwork, fine marble, and the gentle scent of pure essential oils, showcasing the owner’s enduring passion for beauty and timeless quality. The attention to detail is evident in every room, from the 1,000 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets draping the massage tables, to the generous glass and marble showers and individually packaged combs and toothbrushes in each restroom. Customers are encouraged to wrap themselves in fluffy, organic cotton robes and enjoy herbal teas served in fine, antique china while they pause between services, or to calm down before beginning their first treatment.

Cottage Aroma Bella is fully staffed with highly qualified licensed massage therapists and estheticians, all under the management of Eryn Groh, formerly of Sasanqua spa with The Kiawah Island Club.

“The Liebers have owned so many spas in the past, that they knew exactly what they were going for when they built Cottage Aroma Bella,” said Eryn. “They’ve created an environment that truly takes you back in time.”

In terms of their products, Eryn is thrilled that the Cottage is so close to the Lab. “It’s great, their products are all organic and if I run out, I just call next door and ask for more,” she smiled. “We’re all healers here and we genuinely care about what we do. The possibilities are endless. Often, what one thinks is an incredible request is usually very easy to take care of.”

As with any English cottage, the house is also harboring its share of secrets. A hidden garden can be found tucked behind the building, a pair of antique French doors opening from the main building through a light screen of climbing ivy into a small marble courtyard. During the spring, summer and early fall, the petite cloister is ensconced in vibrantly blooming vegetation, creating the perfect place to wind down and breathe in the surrounding beauty.

In the Cottage itself, a secret second floor conceals a private suite, ideal for a bride or bridesmaids on the night before the wedding, a couple on a luxurious retreat, or someone simply looking to envelop themselves in a full night and day of relaxation.

Services at Cottage Aroma Bella range from facials to pedicures in a custom-made solid oak and marble foot tub throne, to full body and specific-needs massages, waxing, and even face, hand and foot services for children.

Cottage Aroma Bella will hold its grand opening this spring, but is currently open for business Monday – Saturday from 10am – 6pm. Look for the official grand opening celebration date in future editions of the Island Connection. For more information, visit For more information about Royal Labs and their product lines Aroma Bella and Deep Steep, visit

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