Editor’s note: We’re doing a duo review for this spa, with a special guest reviewer, Spa Ma.
I found the StressBusters Wellness Day Spa after doing a local web search for “massage therapy and day spa”. I would never have known about it otherwise, as it’s hidden in an old strip mall. There are many offerings that make this spa different, like the fact that it offers an organic lunch, special alkaline water, oncology massage, and clinical aromatherapy.
StressBusters Wellness Day Spa is a full service spa that has been offering skin care and healing massage for stress reduction since its opening in 1993. Since the beginning, this spa has only used organic products for all of its treatments. Treatments include everything from infrared detox treatments to body wraps, massages, clinical aromatherapy and nourishing facials.
The spa recently got a write-up in the Spring 2016 edition of Pulse, a magazine for Spa Professionals. The article focused mainly on the spa’s pregnancy treatments, and the owners’ commitment to maintaining the highest standards for pregnancy massage therapy in Orange County. Given this write-up, we thought it would be a good idea to send in a pregnant reviewer for a treatment to see if the spa lived up to their press. Spa Ma received the spa’s specialty pregnancy massage and graciously agreed to share her views on the spa with us.
Located within a shopping center, and obscurely situated between a nail salon and a restaurant, one might easily bypass this spa. Thankfully the parking lot is huge, making it easy to grab a nearby spot, always a plus for reducing one’s anxiety before a spa service.
Apparently, the spa has been around a long time – and it shows. It wasn’t falling apart, or ageing terribly like the Mandara Spa at Disneyland, but the décor and fixtures were outdated and the spa itself was very, very small.
In addition, every area was co-ed. There were only 7 lockers, one change room, and one restroom containing a toilet and a shower. You could rest in the small co-ed lounge in the center but otherwise there was no designated quiet room.
The towels on the rack next to the shower were only for display! That seemed to me to be kind of a waste of space for facilities that size. When your spa is that small, you should be maximizing every inch available.
The spa is located in a strip mall. I didn’t think that would be a big deal, but apparently the builders didn’t really build the spaces with a spa in mind, so the walls didn’t have great sound insulation. During my massage, I could hear three different types of music (one inside my room and two outside) as well as talking. I thought the noise was coming from the spa’s reception area, but the receptionist told me I was the only one in at that time. When I left, I realized the noise was probably coming from the nail salon next door, which shared a wall with my treatment room. It was a shame really, because if I were to go back there, I would probably have to wear earplugs in order to drown out the extraneous noise. This would probably not be a problem for men, who have one-track hearing and would likely not hear what’s going on outside the room.
The spa has a FAR Infrared Sunlight Level 5 Sauna. Infrared saunas are a type of sauna that uses heat and light to help relax and detoxify the body. Research by one manufacturer of infrared saunas claims that Infrared light (experienced as heat) is the invisible part of the sun’s spectrum with the ability to penetrate human tissue to produce a host of health benefits, including releasing toxins, reducing blood pressure, and aiding in weight loss – you can burn up to 600 calories in one 40-minute session – and most importantly, relaxing!
I really enjoyed the private infrared sauna. It took a few minutes for me to actually start sweating (this is normal for me in any sauna) but once I did I thought it was actually much nicer than a traditional Finnish-style sauna. The spa serves alkaline water for your infrared sauna session, stating that alkaline ionic water has powerful antioxidant properties and that it enhances the delivery of nutrients to our cells by neutralizing acidic foods, making our body an alkaline environment, disarming free radicals and increasing the oxygen levels in our body.
I could have spent more time in the sauna (I love the sauna) but a half hour session before my massage was probably sufficient.
Spa Ma: I enjoyed the Zen-like ambiance of the small lobby area, compactly filled with retail products and organic lines like Epicuren and Servello. After completing the intake form, the receptionist invited me back, and I followed her to my assigned locker space. Without any curtains or doors, this small locker area did not feel private as it opens to the hallway, sauna room and a treatment room. I learned after my services there is an optional changing area for the modest. In the locker hung an incredibly soft and cozy robe, and there was a pair of spa slippers. For clients like myself, one size does not fit all. The slippers were uncomfortably small and though I did mention it to the therapist, she did not offer to switch them for a larger pair. Adjacent to the locker area is a single restroom with a toilet, sink and shower. Although informed I could shower after services, I did not find it relaxing given that I would be occupying the one and only toilet for all spa guests. Not to mention the only two hanging towels stated they there were for display only–do not use, somehow the shower just wasn’t appealing.
Massage and Body Treatments
I enjoyed an 85-minute massage and FAR infrared sauna pairing. I believe I got the StressBusters Wellness Signature massage which is described as consisting of “a combination of the most effective massage techniques (Swedish, Acupressure, Shiatsu, Reflexology & Localized Deep Tissue) in order to calm the nervous system and release the tension & stress our lifestyles create.”
The massage therapist was really knowledgeable and skilled and immediately zeroed in on my problem areas. It was clear she not only had skills but a lot of experience. Afterwards she made recommendations that no other massage therapist has made before to me, which was really interesting and helpful. She told me how I could tweak my yoga practice slightly to help with some of the issues I was having.
In addition to really liking the infrared sauna and everything the massage therapist did, the massage table was also really superb. Not only did it help me, but apparently it’s great for massage therapists as well. The table is similar to an adjustable bed that can be shaped to help raise your knees and change your back angle, so it’s a lot like the adjustable beds you see on TV. When you turn over for the front-side part of the massage, your body is actually in a very comfortable lounge position; you are not just lying flat with a bolster under your knees and neck. It was a very comfortable table and I liked it a lot.
Spa Ma: The massage that I experienced at Stress Busters was their specialty pregnancy massage, a service that is provided only by certified Pregnancy Massage Therapists. Being that I was already in my last trimester and in the very uncomfortable stage, I was greatly looking forward to this treatment.
As I entered the treatment room, I was instructed to lie down on my side and onto a semi-reclining hydraulic table. Pillows were also laid out to support the side lying position. For the most part I was comfortable, though I have struggled with a bit of pelvic pain, making it awkward to keep a pillow between my legs. In hindsight I should have mentioned it to the therapist but I was too determined to ignore the nagging discomfort and focus on relaxing. While lying there I took in the surroundings and noted how soothing the environment was. The music was relaxing, the lighting perfectly dim, no noticeable smells (ideal for a pregnant woman) and there were soft LED candles throughout the room. As the therapist began the massage, I enjoyed the pleasant-smelling lotion and her gentle pressure. I normally enjoy deep pressure massages, but being pregnant that was not an option. However, her light touch using sweeping and circular motions gradually lulled me into a relaxed state.
In my opinion, the highlight of the service was the upper body portion, as I could feel so much tension releasing out of my back and shoulders. But the attention given to my hips and legs were also wonderful. Honestly, just being touched felt amazing. It’s true that pregnancy can take quite a toll on the mind and body. With so many things to do and consider when you are expecting, heading to the spa is easy to brush aside. But I can happily say it was worth it and would love to do it again. It was a real treat and would suggest it to other pregnant women.
After my relaxing prenatal massage, I went right into the Organic Facial–a 60-minute treatment. My first impression of the room was how small it felt and a bit cramped. I found the layout to be rather strange with the treatment table facing the wall, pushed up against it. If you are tall or even slightly claustrophobic like myself, this set up may bother you. The biggest issue by far though was the temperature of the room. It was very warm, to the point of feeling stuffy. Therefore when the facial began and the steamer was put on me, I could not tolerate it, which was unfortunate as I love being under a steamer. After I mentioned this to the Esthetician she apologized and explained that the room temperature is a huge issue since it is located next to the sauna, and apparently the air circulation is not adequate. As a hot flashing pregnant woman, this certainly is not ideal for a relaxing treatment.
At the beginning of the facial, the Esthetician went right into a pre-cleanse. Oddly, she did not ask prior if I had any allergies or sensitivities, something that a consultation card would address. Therefore during the cleanse I explained that there were many products I could not use, like Salicylic acid (a no-no on the pregnancy list). She then asked if I was allergic to Salicylic acid or any other ingredients, surprising as she is supposed to cater to pregnant women. For safety and best practice, all Estheticians should address these topics prior to applying product on any clients face. Besides this, the Esthetician was very sweet and I was excited about the all-natural organic products. Some of the products used were Epicuren and a Portland based brand called Servello.
Epicuren, which is famously known to smell amazing, is quite expensive, whereas Servello has a much lower price point and smelled pleasant but I wasn’t blown away. However, the facial itself and the Esthetician’s touch was relaxing. I greatly enjoyed her facial and upper body massage, by far the highlight of the service, and my skin felt smooth, clean and glowing. It is worth mentioning that the restaurant next door is under complete construction and midway through the facial they began jackhammering and it vibrated the walls. This has been an ongoing issue for the spa and sadly there is not much they can do about it. My suggestion would be to offer discounted services, otherwise I would think twice about choosing this spa for my facial.
Spa Ma: When I entered the spa, I was handed a one-page information form to complete, and surprisingly I was not asked to complete a consultation card which normally asks pertinent information such as allergies and potential contraindications like past medical history, prescribed medications, retinoid usage, smoking status, cancer and skin sensitivities. I found that strange for a spa that offers services with pregnant women in mind, as this information is critical for ensuring client safety.
Spa Pro: When the receptionist gave me my intake paperwork (after my treatment, which was strange), I noticed that there was barely anything on the form – nothing that asked me about any issues I might have, or any warnings at all. It just seemed out of character for a spa that has been around for years.
We liked the massages and the sauna, but the facilities leave a lot to be desired. It seems like they are trying to make the best of their location, but if the spa was in a different spot it could make a world of difference. And we have to mention that the gap in the intake form and the lack in asking clients about any concerns or contraindications is quite frankly, not acceptable for a spa that has been around for over 20 years and caters to pregnant women and cancer survivors.
- Treatment rooms
- FAR Infrared sauna
- Co-ed lounge
- Co-ed change room with lockers
- Co-ed (single) restroom with shower
$$$ = Mid-range: $60-$85
StressBusters Wellness Day Spa
26548 Moulton Pkwy Suite D
Laguna Hills, CA 92653
HOURS OF OPERATION
Sunday 12pm – 6pm
Monday 9am – 6pm
Tuesday-Friday 9am – 8pm
Saturday 9am – 5pm.
HOW TO BOOK AN APPOINTMENT
The best way to book is by calling (949) 831-1988.
About our guest reviewer:
Spa Ma is a strong believer in rewarding yourself, especially when it comes to your health and wellness. Taking care of the mind, body and spirit is a priority in this busy world. Balancing your work life and home life is not always easy, which is why spa time can be so valuable and finding that perfect spa experience is essential. When choosing a spa, she looks for the complete package–ambiance, comfort, relaxation, decor, aromas and professionalism. She is also passionate about skincare and how ingredients affect our entire body, as well as the environment. Her ideal spa will use both health conscious and eco-friendly, organic and all-natural products.