For decades, Napa has been synonymous with relaxation due to the distinct combination of unlimited wine, a serene landscape and laid back culture. It’s only natural that a booming spa community would grow simultaneously with the tourism demand.
But for Kimberly McMaster, a fifth-generation Napan, and her partner (in business and life) Veronica Samora, the locals are the priority.
McMaster and Samora are the new owners of Napa Massage & Bodycare on the second floor of 1834 First St. in what was once the home of Dr. Lawrence Welti, a prominent local physician who practiced in Napa more than 100 years ago.
Dr. Welti’s former home has evolved into a comprehensive place for wellness. Besides being home to Napa Massage & Bodycare, Blossom Chiropractic Studio and Concordia Natural Medicine can also be found there.
“We are truly located in a wellness community,” said McMaster. “Everyone works well together, our services complement each other and the house has really become a cohesive place for those seeking wellness in one place.”
McMaster and Samora purchased Napa Massage & Bodycare from Amanda Lewis in October 2012, after working together for several years as massage therapists at Silverado Resort and Spa.
“We bought Napa Massage & Bodycare so that we can build a brand of stellar customer service and exceedingly high bodywork standards,” said McMaster. “We wanted to work with the locals of the valley and support their needs within our practice.”
About 12 years ago, McMaster discovered nerve damage in her left leg and sought massage therapy to ease her symptoms. Impressed with the techniques and treatments, she pursued a degree from the National Holistic Institute in Emeryville, graduating in 2001.
Samora graduated from the same school just two years prior, but her revelation with massage therapy was a little different. Having served as a paramedic in the United States Navy, Samora had a solid background in anatomy and physiology, but she wasn’t convinced of the benefits of massage therapy until she witnessed a close friend recover from an injury with the help from massage therapy.
“It was an easy transition from being a paramedic to a massage therapist,” said Samora. “I am a people pleaser, and as a massage therapist I love that my clients see the results from our treatments and are vocally thankful for that.”
The pair have made notable changes to the spa since their takeover last fall, including complete turnover of the staff. Unlike most spas in Napa, which primarily consist of independent contractors, everyone at Napa Massage & Bodycare is an employee with benefits and training, and is insured by the company to practice massage therapy.
“We want to deliver the highest quality treatments and part of that is making sure that our staff is well-equipped with everything they need to do a good job in the treatment room,” said McMaster.
Upgrades to the treatment rooms include heated massage tables, high-thread count sheets, elevated bolsters to relieve lower back tension and provide ankle comfort and a high-density body cushion that extends from shoulder to pelvis to offer more support and comfort during treatments.
“We have one client who is nine months pregnant and we gave her a massage while she laid on her stomach with the high-density body cushion for the entire hour, and she was totally comfortable,” said Samora.
Clients will also notice the office has been relocated to the front, with a place to relax after treatments; and the entire space has been redecorated to embody a relaxing beach theme to the soundtrack of trickling water.
Dawn Lockhart of Vacaville said she visits Napa frequently, and while there are spas in her local area, she said she prefers her massages at Napa Massage & Bodycare. She had been a client of the spa before the renovations and has witnessed the change.
“I encourage everyone to give Napa Massage a second chance,” said Lockhart. “I go to see Kimberly who does a great job. I have strenuous parts in my back, and she can feel what needs work and makes sure that those muscles are relaxed and de-stressed so I leave feeling rejuvenated.”
McMaster and Samora have a lot on the horizon for Napa Massage & Bodycare. They are working toward reinstating their cosmetology license, which had expired with the previous owner. This would allow them to expand their menu of services to include facials and other skin treatments.
Once they obtain their teaching credentials, they plan to start offering continuing education this fall for massage therapists in the area seeking more hours toward their certification.
Their timing couldn’t be more appropriate because 2014 is expected to bring a new state certification for massage therapists, which requires at least 500 hours of practicum. McMaster and Samora said they have about 1,200 hours; many therapists now are working under a more lenient requirement of 200 hours.
“We are all about setting a higher standard,” said McMaster.