The second week of February, MassageLuXe Spa opened with “great momentum,” meeting customers outside its 609 H Street NE location and connecting with those who pre-purchased packages, owner Rosalyn Brown said.
But exactly five weeks after the spa opened, it temporarily shut its doors. Surging COVID-19 cases put operations on hold, leaving Brown to support spa employees, make rent and pay vendors. Although she was constantly communicating with employees, she said it was difficult to lead the staff when a return to work was unknown.
“All of a sudden things kind of stopped,” she said. “We couldn’t give them a lot in terms of direction, which I hated.”
So when MassageLuXe reopened June 25, staging a safe and successful return to business was critical. So far, sticking to health guidelines and social media outreach has paid off.
“We’ve been booked and really, really busy since we opened,” front desk employee Domonique Maldonado said. “I guess it’s the fact that everyone’s been in their house for about three months. Everyone needs to refresh again.”
Brown said the spa’s layout — a street-level lobby above several massage rooms — gives the location “built in soundproofing.” Safety precautions make quality massage, facial and waxing services possible amid COVID-19. Guidelines across MassageLuXe locations (the spa is a franchise) call for temperature checks and frequent sanitation. At the H Street spa, one service room even serves as storage for overflow personal protective equipment.
It’s not just well-executed health procedures that are drawing customers. Offerings like a LuXe Lounge stocked with tea, coffee and water and the HydroLuXe water massage give customers a “quality experience,” Brown said.
“They can have a moment of clarity and relaxation, and really just enjoy that self care that is hard to come by,” she said. “Our job is really to be a service to our clients.”
On spa services, Maldonado recommends facials, which she said are just “as important as massages.” Alisha Roberts, who has friends who have scheduled appointments at MassageLuXe, said she has heard only positive reviews of the spa. Friends say Brown is especially responsive, Roberts added.
Roberts promoted the spa on social media after coming across a post Brown made in a Facebook group for black Washingtonians. Roberts, who co-founded Richard Wright Public Charter School, said she wanted to promote the black-owned spa as it navigated reopening.
“We all were really excited to know it’s black-owned, and it’s right on the H Street Corridor, which is such a hotbed of activity,” Roberts said.
Brown, who lives near the spa, said she decided to bring MassageLuXe to H Street after noticing that a “place to get a nice, quality massage” was missing among the grocery stores and restaurants. Despite an uncertain and often stressful start, including a search for a right location, several construction delays and a two-month closure, MassageLuXe is officially open for business.
“We’d love to have clients come in and try us out for the first time,” Brown said. “We want to provide them a sense of peace in the midst of all this chaos.”
Eva Herscowitz is a journalism student at Northwestern University currently interning with the Hill Rag. She writes for Northwestern’s student newspaper, The Daily Northwestern. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org