RUB ONE OUT! Massage by Design LTM Pick for BEST LOCAL SPA
My journey from Bogota, New Jersey to South Beach Miami in 2010 was a total of 1290 miles which I drove with my dog FOOie and my father who followed me in a PENSKE truck filled with my belongings. It rained for about 900 miles of the trip and when I say rained it was hardcore sideways late September pouring rain. My drive was delayed by a day due to weather and when I finally arrived to Miami, moved in, set up my apartment my neck, shoulders and lower back were a mess. I needed a massage and fast.
I jumped onto YELP and looked up Spas in South Beach, checked the $$ sign indicating I wasn’t interested nor had the means to blow $300 on a day at The Standard Spa. Instead I was looking for a nice neighborhood salon/spa sort of thing. I found Massage by Design and booked an appointment. It was perfect.
Fast forward a year to 2011 and the proliferation of coupon sites like Couptessa, Groupon, Living Social, Dealtificate, and the New Times and I started to find massages for as low as $35 for a full hour. I made the mistake of not researching the address and bought a coupon for a salon and spa about 20 minutes out west off the Palmetto Expressway.
If you blindfolded me and told me I was in a shopping mall in a third world country I would have believed you. I walked into the salon and was greeted with “holaaaaaa belleza” (hello lovely). “Hi, I’m Lisa I called with the coupon here it is.” Their head was spinning. I speak New York which is a sped up form of English which communicates urgency. I can be on vacation in Mexico and ask for a glass of water and the person rushes off to get it. There’s something in the tone that says you have 15 seconds to get me what I want before I label you incompetent.
The owner asked me if I speak Spanish. I said no but I understand like 85% depending on how fast you speak to me. So we sorted out my coupon and she pointed me to this beautiful Dominican guy with olive skin, a shaved head, about 6’1” built like an underwear model with green eyes like that chick on the that famous cover of National Geographic.
I was a happy girl. Yay! Cute Dominican guy will be rubbing me out for the next hour. He didn’t speak Ingles either but his hands spoke the universal language of ahhhhhhh. The massage started off normal. I showed him on his body where I hurt. Then he stepped out and I stripped down to nothing and hopped onto the massage table under the blanket.
The massage was amazing. His hands were from the heavens. The dude had a gift. He was getting all the kinks out and I was soooooo relaxed. I melted into the massage table. All was fine a lovely until he started massaging my legs. I won’t get graphic but will instead capture the “holy fuck is this actually happening and what do I do??” Ok so the hot Dominican masseur is working his magic on my thighs and let’s just say women can evidently get happy endings too.
I was so conflicted. Here I am naked on a massage table, totally relaxed my body was like a lump of clay waiting for the artist to manipulate it. My brain was thinking this is so wrong, you need to say something, wait… oooooohhhhhhh!! Mmmmmmmmmmmm….deep breaths, mmmmmmmmmmm.
When “finished” he poured me a glass of water, and placed his personal card on my shoulder. I don’t remember the name but I do remember seeing “Personal en Su Casa” (Personal IN YOUR HOUSE). Holycrap!! This dude is a vaginal masseur. I heard about this from professional women in New York who go on these vacations and pay men to massage them all the way.
Ok so I learned my lesson…first keep all business cards for everyone you ever meet ever. And check the address for the establishment in relation to my apartment. If it exceeds South Beach, Brickell, Midtown, Design District or North Beach understand that a fingerblast with my massage is a total possibility.
After this I took a break from massages for a few months and the holiday’s came. My sort of husband bought me a Groupon for 3 massages with Massage by Design conveniently located on West Ave between 9 (th) and 10(th). I also found a coupon for a spa mani pedi and bought that too. http://www.massagebydesign.com/
Melissa is the owner, Allegra and Annie are two of the massage therapists available and my personal favorites. They are both absolutely amazing. They get kinks out, pay attention to how your body is reacting to the pressure and really focus on the trouble areas without neglecting the other parts too. Patty is the mani pedi Jedi who will suggest the perfect color and apply it flawlessly.
Massage by design isn’t a big huge fancy spa. The services they offer are same as every other spa, an assortment of massages, facials, mani pedis. It is clean, decorated lovely like a chic little storefront sanctuary. Once in your massage room you don’t hear any outside noise. You escape into pure relaxation. The best part… I can walk home. I don’t have to drive and get stressed out and lose the chill feeling that comes after getting a massage. This feeling is sacred to me because it leaves me the second I see some dipshit doing some dipshitty thing. Not having to drive lessens my odds for being pissed off post massage.
What’s great about Massage by Design is that you feel like it’s you own little neighborhood spot. They know your name. It’s like Cheers but a spa. They are professional and friendly and they aren’t too snobby and above working with the aforementioned coupon sites. They get it. They have marketing chops. So many brands and local establishments fear coupon sites will dilute their brand. Well any business who wants mine in this economy needs to offer a discount. Times are rough. In this case my gift for Massage by Design led to me writing about them urging everyone to go there for a massage and mani/pedi.
My plan is to purchase other massages and services off the coupon sites. I refuse to pay full price for a haircut, massage, facial, mani/pedi. I just won’t do it. I say let the hoshy poshy spas do their thing and corner the market on snobby absurdity that caters to tourists and the elite. Neighborhood local spas and salons should absolutely continue to offer coupon deals. Women typically would get massages every month as well as facials and mani/pedis twice per month. Do the math. Offer coupons.
I applaud Massage by Design for their strong sense of the importance of being neighborly. There is no pretense, no snob factor what so ever. That combined with masterfully skilled massage therapists and manicurists and it absolutely gets my pick for BEST LOCAL SPA.
I am sure after this article is read by other area spas and salons I’ll be invited to try their services so I can write about them too. I welcome the opportunity but for now, Massage by Design will be the local salon to beat.