Property Rounds: Commercial Spas new and old find brisk business
The health and wellness industry is thriving in southwestern Connecticut.
Several spas have opened in the area in recent months, while a number of longer-running establishments report that they are doing robust business. Both new and older operators say that personalized service and an array of amenities underpin their efforts to recruit and keep clients.
“I always wanted to have something that was like a country club for your body,” Kim Barnes, co-owner of the new Spavia, at 300 Atlantic St., in downtown Stamford, said in an interview last week at the spa. “You come here, and it’s like a hotel.”
The Connecticut Secretary of the State’s office lists more than 600 active beauty establishments in southwestern Connecticut with names identifying themselves as salons or spas, covering hairdressing, nails, tanning beds and other services. In the past year, the office has registered 50 establishments.
Spavia opened on Sept. 7. Representing its parent company’s first franchise in Connecticut, its 11 treatment rooms offer services including massage, facials, tanning and waxing.
In the past year, Stamford has seen several other health and wellness establishments open, including two in the city’s South End: Remedy Bodyworks, at 36 Dyke Lane, and Haute Healing Oasis, at 792 Pacific St.
Spavia, which employs 12, is trying to reach a broad range of customers by offering what it says are competitive rates. Monthly memberships run between $79 and $119.
“If we can make it more affordable,” said Spavia co-owner Todd Barnes, husband of Kim Barnes. “We feel like we can really help the community at large. We want to make it so it’s available and a service that works for you.”
The Barneses, who live on Stamford’s west side with their 3-year-old and 6-year-old sons, said they were attracted to the downtown by its growing foot traffic. An adjacent California Tortilla restaurant opened in May, while Bobby V’s Restaurant and Sports Bar debuted in June 2017 two doors down from Spavia, after relocating from its longtime home on Main Street. Yards away, the 325-unit Atlantic Station apartment tower opened at the start of the year, at 355 Atlantic St.
“A lot of the people who work in the offices around here come through for lunch,” Kim Barnes said. “Or if they don’t want to sit in traffic, with us being open until 8 p.m. during the week, they’ll come in for a massage and wait until the traffic passes.”
Despite the opening of establishments like Spavia, spas are still susceptible to slowdowns during economic downturns and summer months when many customers temporarily leave the area. But owners said their regulars help offset the fluctuations.
“We’re smaller,” said Amy Okrepkie, owner of Healing Touch Wellness Center in Trumbull. “But we tend to get to know our clientele, so they tend to come back because of our skills and our willingness to get to know them and what they’re looking for.”
Clients’ desire to alleviate daily pressures also contribute to the steady demand at the busy spas.
“People around here have so much stress, and we can help with that stress relief,” said Lori Dodd, owner of Dream Spa & Salon, which has locations in Greenwich and Westport. “Most of our clientele come for multiple services. They are looking for a little escape.”
Spa owners said they take a number of approaches to build their customer bases.
“With our added attention to detail, we’re continually adding more services, like facial massages, guided meditation classes and ‘reiki energy’ work sessions,” said Jenna Dallinga, owner of Therapeutic Massage and Wellness in Danbury. “We’re always improving the ambiance to give our clientele what they need and want.”
Dream has increased its client contingent partly by recruiting patrons of other spas. It is allowing clients of a neighboring downtown Greenwich spa that recently closed to reclaim some of their gift certificates at the Greenwich Dream, at 151 Greenwich Ave.
“We feel close to our clients, so we thought honoring the gift certificates would be a great way to build goodwill with our new clients,” Dodd said.
The Barneses, meanwhile, said they would be interested in opening additional Spavia franchises in the state.
“Connecticut still hasn’t even tapped into the amount of people who want to do this,” said Todd Barnes, who is also artistic director of the graduate film and television program at Sacred Heart University. “Even with those other establishments coming in, I think they just bring awareness because Connecticut doesn’t have that much awareness of spa culture.”
Chris Bosak, Jordan Grice and Alexander Soule contributed reporting to this article.
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