When Anne Chao opened Massage Concepts last year in the Del Mar Highlands Town Center, she knew exactly what the magic touch would be: No memberships, no pressure to purchase packages, just high-quality relaxation. Since opening, Massage Concepts was named Best Massage in this newspaper’s 2016 Best of North Coast Readers Poll and business has grown steadily — last month they had over 1,000 visitors.
“What makes us special is that we not only provide mainstream massage services but we incorporate Asian styles. We also provide high-quality massage at a good price with excellent customer service. We work hard to make sure the customer wants to come back,” said Chao, noting she is against memberships or aggressive sales of treatment packages. “Customer loyalty comes from customer satisfaction.”
In addition to the traditional Swedish and deep tissue massages, Massage Concepts’ menu includes the Asian styles of shiatsu therapy and reflexology. Shiatsu, which originated in Japan with influence from Chinese medicine, is a form of holistic body therapy by applying “finger pressure.” The therapist uses touch, comfortable pressure and manipulative techniques to alleviate the body’s stress and balance its energy flow.
The ancient art of reflexology is based on the belief that different points on the feet, lower leg, hands, face and ears correspond with different areas of the body. Chao said that by applying pressure to these points, the treatment stimulates blood flow and relieves tension throughout the body.
Owning the massage studio is a brand new experience for Chao as she used to work for Qualcomm in the licensing department, working a demanding schedule that involved a lot of travel. She was looking for something different to do and when the space opened up in Del Mar Highlands Town Center, just minutes from her Del Mar home, she thought she would give the massage business a try.
“I always loved getting massages but I had a hard time getting what I wanted,” Chao said.
At other chain massage places, she didn’t like the pressure to purchase memberships and packages that she couldn’t always use due to her travel schedule and she had a hard time making appointments when both she and a therapist were available. “I couldn’t get an appointment when I felt I needed it the most,” she said.
As a remedy to that problem, Massage Concepts’ therapists work full time, “I wanted people to be able to walk in on the spot and have a therapist available,” said Chao, noting that even on Saturdays and Sundays clients can book a treatment for the same day with a one-or-two-hour lead time.
As they continue to grow, Chao said she knows that will be the challenge to be able to keep that promise.
Massage Concepts has 10 peaceful and quiet treatment rooms, including a couples massage room, a room especially for prenatal massage and one combo room that has a reclining, relaxing chair for foot massage along with a massage bed. The room has been popular for families as Massage Concepts allows children to come in while adults are having a massage to sit quietly in the chair alongside the bed. Chao said the chair in the combo room has also been used by local High Bluff employees who come to work in the chair while getting a massage.
The largest treatment room is a foot reflexology room with four chairs, allowing it to host small group parties.
The foot reflexology treatment begins with a foot soak in an herbal bath while the upper body is massaged. The therapist then works the legs and feet for a total 45-minute treatment.
“It’s a good relaxing experience,” Chao said.
A lot of people ask if they serve champagne or have a Jacuzzi tub but Chao said they are not a day spa and are not trying to be one, “We want to make it as affordable as possible to the public,” Chao said.
For summer, specials include a 60-minute foot reflexology massage for $39 and a 60-minute Swedish massage for $49.
“We are family-owned, not a big chain,” said Chao, a working mom who is proud to be a woman business owner. “Our goal is to become a part of the community and provide a service to local residents.”
Chao has made it as easy as possible to make an appointment online at massageconceptsdelmar.com. For more information, call (858) 847-2777. Massage Concepts is located on the second floor, near Sammy’s at Del Mar Highlands Town Center, 12925 El Camino Real, suite J25, in Carmel Valley. Massage Concepts is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., open late for those with busy schedules.
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