Home-delivered pampering leaves customers relaxed and happy
By Phillip Zonkel Staff writer
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11/06MTJ Magazine Highlites DoorStep Day Spa.
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10/06 Chill out L.A. Doorstep Day Spa: Social Spa-ing at Its Best!

This article originally appeared in MASSAGEMagazine’s July/August 2005 issue.
Reprinted by permission of MASSAGE Magazine (831) 477-1176 www.massagemag.com

Get your motor runnin’
Regina Fernandez spent more than five years building a toolbox that would become the cornerstone to a successful mobile massage-and-spa business. She learned marketing while working for a chiropractic office.

In another office, she learned about aromatherapy. She learned paraffin treatments while doing massage in a salon. As a contractor with a hotel spa-services company she helped develop spa packages. And she learned the value of a professional Web site doing marketing for a yoga-retreat center. Meanwhile, she attended continuing-education classes in hydrotherapy and spa treatments to supplement her massage training.
Then, in 2000, she was ready to step out on her own and launched the Web site for Doorstep Day Spa. “I had helped all these other people in their businesses, now I figured it was time for me,” she says.

Today Fernandez, 38, travels throughout Los Angeles County to see clients who pay well for relaxation and pampering spa treatments delivered in the comfort of their own homes. While outcall massage has historically been a staple of a massage-therapist’s practice, adding spa services has upped the ante.

Spa Finder Magazine deemed the mobile business one of the top 10 trends in the industry for 2005. Today mobile spa-and-massage services service hotels, conferences or private homes. “I love it,” Fernandez says. “Not everyone wants to do mobile services, but there is a lot of freedom in it. And I think a lot of people become massage therapists because, well, have hands will travel. They can find a career wherever they go.” Some mobile spas expand the traditional menu of spa services to stand out from the crowd. Mobile Safari Spa, based in Milford, Pennsylvania, offers a spa-and-dinner package, complete with pre-dinner spa treatment and multiple-course gourmet meal prepared by a chef. One dinner event, Thai Evening, features a four-course Thai meal prepared while you and a partner receive massage that blends Swedish and Thai techniques and hot, herbal compresses.

Spa Chicks on the Go, brainchild of MamaSpa founder Marie Scalongna and based in New York City, creates spa parties complete with goodie bags, robe and slipper rental, and optional catering, coat-check and bar services.

Other mobile-spa companies have begun to franchise. Boston-based MobileSPA offers partnerships. San Diego’s Puur Mobile Day Spa sells start-up materials, such as business-development plan, Web site creation and hosting and marketing ideas.

Private spa services are perennial favorites for romantic occasions, such as St. Valentine’s Day or anniversary celebrations. But mobile spa parties are edging out Chippendales for bridal showers; baby-naming games for baby showers; and drinking binges for graduations. And they offer an attractive alternative to going to a spa. “When you’re in a spa atmosphere you have to be quiet,” Fernandez says.

“When it’s a party it’s about having fun. It can still be therapeutic; it’s therapeutic just getting together with your friends. [You] can also nibble, have tea, share and laugh.”

Fernandez says that her minimum for a spa party is three people, and she’s done parties for up to 25 women. She has a stable of contract therapists she calls upon for larger groups. She supplies all products, including natural lotions and scrubs, and most equipment, including a steam canopy for the Dreamland Steam Massage. The idea, she says, is to make the visit feel as nurturing and spa-like as possible. Going mobile, Fernandez says, exposes her to clientele she might otherwise have missed and gives her more flexibility in her practice.

“I love the fact I can move around so much. I also like the fact that I don’t have looming overhead. If I have a slow month it’s not as devastating.”

—Kelle Walsh