Birch Bay residents open their second spa at Sandcastle Resort


Birch Bay residents Russell and Marika Dawe opened M.D. Spa and Wellness Center in Bellingham in March. Eight months later, they have already opened a second location, and this time it’s closer to home. 

M.D. Spa and Wellness Center’s new spa in Birch Bay, inside Sandcastle at Birch Bay resort at 7854 Birch Bay Drive, will offer most of the same cosmetic and medical services as the Bellingham location. It has seven treatment rooms with services including Botox and facial fillers, massages, facial and chemical peels and laser treatment, in addition to a Jacuzzi spa and steam room. 

Unlike the Bellingham location, Birch Bay’s spa won’t do Covid-19 testing, though it will do DNA, gender reveal and other lab testing, Russell Dawe said. The spa had a soft opening on November 16.

Opening a second location so soon wasn’t part of a grand plan for the Dawes – instead, they heard about an opportunity that was too good to pass up. A few weeks after moving to Birch Bay Village last summer, a neighbor told them that there used to be a spa at Sandcastle resort.

The spa owners put lots of money into remodeling it shortly before closing in the Great Recession, according to the stories they heard from neighbors. The Dawes were intrigued by the story and seeing the space in person sealed the deal. 

“We were just blown away,” Russell Dawe said. “We just went, ‘Oh yeah, we’re doing this.’ It’s like somehow they just locked the doors and left everything there. Other than a really deep cleaning it was ready to go.”

Dr. Ken Stiver, who has over 40 years’ of medical experience, will be the medical director of the Birch Bay spa, in addition to the Bellingham spa. Marika Dawe will be more involved in running the Birch Bay spa, while Russell Dawe will continue to focus on the Bellingham location.

Hiring has been challenging, Russell Dawe said. The business is taking applications and he expects to have 25 to 30 employees at the location eventually, he said. 

M.D. Spa and Wellness Center’s Bellingham location currently has patients who live in Blaine and Birch Bay, Russell Dawe said, and people in Lynden and Ferndale may also prefer the trip to the Birch Bay location over driving to Bellingham. 

Though new Covid-19 restrictions and the surging virus may make business challenging in the short term, the Dawes expect the spa will be popular with Sandcastle guests in the summer. The resort has nearly 200 rooms and is typically close to fully occupied in the summer, Russell Dawe said.

“Most spas [at a resort] live solely off traffic at the resort,” he said. “So we’re pretty excited about the resort traffic, along with the locals.”

While it may be a while before traffic at the resort is back to full capacity, Dawe likes the idea of opening a new business now in Birch Bay. 

“With all that’s going on and places closing, I think it’s just good news all around that someone is out there opening something up,” he said.

To start, the M.D. Spa and Wellness Center’s Birch Bay spa will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Learn more at


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