Magazine article Newsweek

It's a Feel-Good Millennium: Putting the 'Mass' into 'Massage'

Magazine article Newsweek

It's a Feel-Good Millennium: Putting the 'Mass' into 'Massage'

Article excerpt

Twice each month mar- cia Falco, 34, closes her eyes and stretches out for a 90-minute full-body massage. Four times a year-at the change of season-she indulges in a facial and a complete "body-detoxification wrap" of seaweed or mud. "I used to get my facials and my massages before I would pay my rent," she says. The self-described "spa queen," a former actress, is so committed to these treatments that she now earns her living giving them.

Business is booming. For decades the rich and famous have been stroked and soaked at places like the Golden Door in Escondido, Calif. ($5,250 for a week). But pampering is going mainstream. The number of U.S. day spas that offer a full menu of rubs, pedicures and wraps jumped to 3,000 last year from fewer than 100 a decade ago, according to Dayspa magazine. JCPenney has opened day spas at 19 of its stores and expects to add five to 10 new ones each year. Not surprisingly, given all these pampered people, the Labor Department projected a 44.7 percent increase in job openings for manicurists between 1996 and 2006. Massage is now for the masses, too. Thirteen percent of Americans received at least one rub from a massage therapist last year-up from only 8 percent in 1997, according to the American Massage Therapy Association. "Ten years ago people looked sideways at it," says Gordon Miller, executive director of the National Cosmetology Association. Today the bashful don't even need to disrobe. Places like Minute Massage near the Chicago Board of Trade offer 10-minute chair massages for $12.50.

The burgeoning number of treatments is part of Americans' growing fondness for "little luxuries," including $3 coffee drinks at Starbucks, that don't "break the bank," says Northwestern University marketing professor Mohan Sawhney. "But if tomorrow the stock market dives and we go into a recession, a lot of this stuff will start to disappear. …

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