Sleight of Hand
Almost everyone loves a great massage because the flowing, relaxing strokes and deep tension-releasing pressure can rejuvenate the mind and body in as little as 30 minutes. It should come as no surprise then that massages have become a necessity for some. Unfortunately, many are missing out on the therapeutic benefits found only in spas. According to the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP) nationwide survey of massage clients conducted by Harstad Strategic Research last year, most people go to a massage therapist’s office—only one quarter go to a spa. But if these massage enthusiasts are primarily seeking relaxation, restoration, and stress relief, a spa is where they should go. “Massage is something that we usually don’t have to market too often because it makes up the majority of our bookings,” says Zach Thomas, spa operations manager at The Spa at Terranea (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA). “It’s what people want, but it is helpful to remind guests about bodywork and recommend something new. We like to present a unique and personalized experience that they can get only with us. Guests are looking for that, and it’s something we could all improve on.” Therapists at Terranea are skilled in a variety of massage disciplines and work with clients to ensure the service meets their needs. Thomas says the most popular massage is the Relaxing Classical ($185, 60 minutes; $265, 90 minutes). “The goal with this service is to customize each guest’s experience to address their specific concerns,” he says. According to ABMP, deep-tissue and Swedish massage account for about two-thirds of all sessions, though more than 250 methods of bodywork are established within the field, offering seemingly limitless personalization.
Location, Location, Location
Adding locally inspired perks to services, especially massage, ensures a lasting impression on more than just clients’ sore muscles. “It’s the little moments and details unique to your property that guests remember most,” says Victoria Boscarino, regional spa director at The Spa at Bacara (Santa Barbara, CA). According to her, one especially popular choice is The Bacara Sea Breeze Rooftop Massage ($285, 80 minutes), which lets guests savor the picturesque Pacific Ocean views and cool wind off the water while a therapist performs a combination of European and deep-tissue techniques. “This has allowed our guests to experience the indigenous features that set us apart: beautiful views of the Gaviota Coast, cool sea breezes, and even the occasional butterfly from the nearby preserve,” says Boscarino.
But an impressive natural backdrop isn’t always required; small details can make the experience truly memorable for spa-goers. Locally sourced ingredients provide a sense of place and add therapeutic benefits. Remède Spa at The St. Regis Aspen Resort (CO) features the Farm-to-Massage-Table Treatment ($500, 3 hours), which enlivens all senses in a five-course spa experience with seasonal ingredients. “There is a new culture emerging around the connection and synergy of food and spa,” says spa director Julie Oliff. “Not only did it start a trend but people have now also actually reversed the trend and are offering table-to-farm services now.”
Spas are also keeping up with demand from young spa-goers by including kid-friendly massages with cultural ties. Pancho’s Marble Massage ($55, 25 minutes), which incorporates traditional Mexican toys such as marbles, yo-yos, and noisemakers, doubles as playtime for the little ones at Grand Velas Spa at Riviera Nayarit (Mexico). “The massage stimulates the central nervous system, providing relaxation and a soothing effect from the tops of their heads to the tips of their toes,” says spa manager Silvia Velasco. “We promote a spa culture among the little ones so they learn, from an early stage in life, how to release tension and get pampered.” As a bonus, children go home with a toy of their choice from the service. For this spa, happy kids mean happy parents and happier clients.
Tools of the Trade
Massage tools also bring in new clients, and the best ones help tailor a session to meet their relaxation needs while simultaneously enhancing the therapists’ techniques. Spas can now become licensed in Spaball Massage, for example, which uses golf balls with the SpaBall Kaddy for targeted deep-tissue work. “This is fantastic for clients who never seem to get enough pressure on their rhomboids,” says Heather Karr, owner of GBM Health, maker of SpaBall Kaddy. This out-of-the-box massage is an ideal sore-muscle remedy for golfers.
Many effective tools also come from the surrounding landscape, or a replica of items found in nature. Stones have long been used to enhance massages, and seashells serve as more than decoration and can help relieve stress and muscle tension. Spa Revolutions specializes in accessories, such as shells, bamboo, and oils, that enhance bodywork services. “The Lava Bambū Zen Stick is a unique and innovative massage tool that provides a deep sense of relaxation and wellbeing,” says Spa Revolutions CEO Cheryl Spousta-Schertzer.
Using the right massage accompaniments during a service can rejuvenate both the mind and the body. At Larimar Spa at Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa, the Aloe Vera and Rum Massage ($185, 80 minutes) allows spa-goers to connect with and reap the benefits of island culture from the comfort of their treatment room. The massage relies on the spa’s namesake Larimar stones, rare blue rocks indigenous to the Caribbean. “The Larimar stone stimulates the heart, throat, third-eye, and crown chakras promoting inner wisdom,” says spa supervisor Albert de la Cruz. “It represents peace and clarity, healing and love.” The right combination of tools and techniques induces the body’s natural state of blissful relaxation.
According to Thomas, offering something extra, such as added time, a treatment enhancement, or a special promotion, can entice guests to book a massage at your spa. “The value of good service and innovative ways of delivery is imperative to the balance and wellness of our industry,” says Boscarino. Let your creativity run wild when it comes to your spa’s massage offerings and trigger a renewed interest in bodywork