There was a small silver lining for Milk + Honey when Texas day spas closed their doors in March: their ecommerce line. Fans of the Austin-based spa, which has calming outposts in Houston and Fort Worth’s Shops at Clearfork (a Los Angeles spa is still pending for later this year), began buying candles, bath products, eucalyptus-infused hand purifier, and other soothing products with a fervor to brighten life in quarantine.
“I would send out emails to clients to explain how another way to support us would be shopping our website,” spa founder Alissa Bayer says. “The orders would just… it was amazing. It was really emotional.”
In addition to facials, massages, and body treatments, Milk + Honey spas also feature hair and nail salons, which have been allowed to be open in Texas for weeks. Bayer and her team, though, chose to wait until they had a phased opening plan in place, and picked this week to officially open their doors.
“There was a lot of internal discussion. We spoke to a lot of people in the spa and salon industry, and consulted infectious disease experts to get their take on things we can do to help mitigate risks,” Bayer says. “And then of course the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation put out guidelines as well. We’re following all of that, but we’re mostly looking to outside experts to come up with safest way to reopen.”
A few notable changes spa visitors can expect to see during this week’s Phase One —during which massages, esthetics, and nail treatments are added to the service list along with basic hair services, which became available last week — are face masks for all (except those receiving facials or facial waxing), verbal screenings, and touchless payment. Steam will be replace with hot towel compresses and coveted appointments are staggered.
Providing this now is the right thing to do. What we do is not just fluffy spa treatments — it’s real therapy.
Phase Two will see additional shifts, while plans for Phase Three and Four (which Bayer believes they’ll enter in at least a month’s time) will be released once the team has had time to see how the initial reopening has gone. And though demand has been across the board for treatments, hair and massage services are being booked weeks out and in advance.
The day spa, which launched a virtual tip jar for employees during lockdown, is working to continue their support for staff now that their doors are open. Rest assured knowing that those currently performing treatments are doing so voluntarily. Sick leave pay has been expanded for both full-time and “full-time plus” employees (those who only work a few weekly shifts). “For us, in order to open when we did, it was imperative that no one be forced to come back,” Bayer adds.
“I’m still a little uneasy being open, but there’s never going to be a time where it feels like, yes, we can just reopen and everything is back to normal. So far, it’s gone really great. Our clients have been compliant with all the requests,” Bayer says. “Providing this now is the right thing to do. What we do is not just fluffy spa treatments — it’s real therapy. Massage therapists do what they do because they’re natural healers.”
More Notable Texas Spa Openings
Hiatus Spa + Retreat
The Texas institution, which has serene outposts in Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio, resumed operations on June 1 after putting the finishing touches their “Hiatus Covid-19 Safety Program.”
Though this falls into a more immersive spa category, à la Miraval or Deer Lake Lodge, Shelby Hodge recently covered details (and provided some swoon worthy photos) about Lake Austin Spa’s upcoming July 1 opening and renovation reveal.