By Jake Flannick
Tucked in a curtained storefront in the heart of downtown Asheville, a comfortable foot spa tends to leave even those with very little time on their hands feeling like they’ve drifted into a more peaceful state.
Indeed, some patrons are so at ease after delighting in a wholesome footbath or a restorative massage at Wake Foot Sanctuary that they end up forgetting their jackets and even their shoes. Some have sauntered out onto the sidewalk wearing the slippers they receive after soaking their feet.
“They leave all sorts of things here,” Lindsey Kugler, spa manager, says of customers who appear “blissed out” after their treatment.
Occupying a 1,500-squarefoot space in the historic Grove Arcade, Wake Foot Sanctuary caters to those who are seeking a brief but soothing retreat amid their daily routines. A communal space furnished with thick drapes and comfy couches and softly lit by candles and a chandelier, the spa can accommodate up to eight people at a time. Walk-in treatments are welcome, though reservations are recommended.
The gently fragrant soaks are a mixture of warm, sudsy water, essential oils and natural ingredients, such as avocado, citrus ginger and patchouli. They are prepared by an in-house apothecarist and carted into the spa in large hand-hammered copper bowls. Some contain salt blends, which can help ease inflammation, aches and pains, including one with frankincense that is particularly therapeutic for pregnant women. Every month, the apothecarist concocts an off-the-menu soak, including ones smelling like chai lattes or woodlands.
Sessions last 45 minutes. Afterward, powder and balm—including organic arrowroot—are applied to the feet and lower legs, while necks are draped with chenille wraps stuffed with flaxseed and lavender. Licensed therapists are on hand to deliver massages (an extra cost) and the spa occasionally hosts gatherings.
“People know they need to have something, but they don’t have time to do a lot,” says owner Melissa Long, who runs the spa with her husband, Brian. “I love making people feel loved, welcomed and cared for.”
Long worked in the consumer packaged goods industry before venturing into this new career, to which she is naturally drawn. Since opening in 2013, business has grown considerably. With more than a dozen employees, the spa is often fully booked.
A casual, down-to-earth establishment named after the couple’s dog, it seems to have broad appeal in a town that is home to its share of prominent wellness centers. Offering discounts to locals on Wednesdays, the spa offers an adjoining store featuring a compact but eclectic inventory that includes aromatherapy products and locally made jewelry. There are body balms, raw diamond necklaces, a “positive energy” spray made by a local nurse, and colorful handbags fashioned from traditional blouses by women in South and Central America.
For couples, the spa offers a “sensual but subtle” package called Date Night that involves a footbath, massage and a pot of tea. It’s an ideal treat for engaged couples and newlyweds; one couple recently visited the morning of their wedding day.
Wake Foot Sanctuary is located at 1 Page Avenue, Suite 115, in the Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville. For more information, call the spa at 828.575.9799 or visit wakespa.com.