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Massage Today
September, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 09

An Interview with Blake Feeney, Spa Director of the Canyon Ranch SpaClub at the Venetian in Las Vegas

By Lynda Solien-Wolfe, LMT

I am sure many of you have heard of Canyon Ranch Health Resorts - destinations dedicated to healthy living, with an emphasis on mind, body and spirit.

Mel and Enid Zuckerman founded the first Canyon Ranch in 1979 in Tucson, Ariz.

In 1989, they opened Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires Health Resort in Lenox, Mass., then Canyon Ranch SpaClub wellness and fitness facility at the Venetian in Las Vegas in 1999. The second SpaClub will open this year in Kissimmee, Fla., at the Gaylord Palms.

Lobby of the Canyon Ranch SpaClub in Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Lobby of the Canyon Ranch SpaClub in Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. I recently had the opportunity to visit Canyon Ranch SpaClub at the Venetian and meet Blake Feeney, SpaClub's director. Blake and I met at the Canyon Ranch Cafe while I was enjoying the special smoothie of the day!

I was impressed with Blake's knowledge and willingness to share. You can tell he loves what he is doing - the sign of a true professional.

Lynda Solien-Wolfe (LSW): How long have you been in the spa industry, and how long have you been the spa director here?

Blake Feeney (BF): I have been in the spa industry since 1993 and have been the director at SpaClub since November 2001.

LSW: What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of being the spa director here?

BF: The most challenging part of my job is ensuring the large volume of guests that come through SpaClub on a weekly basis receive the Canyon Ranch experience. The most rewarding part of my job is when the staff at SpaClub makes the above happen every hour of every day.

LSW: What direction do you see the spa industry taking in the next ten years?

BF: I continue to see growth in the industry; however, not at the pace that has been reported. I would like to see a governing body or association develop guidelines and requirements that spas must attain to be included in the mentioned association. There are too many facilities that call themselves "spas" when, in reality, they are a salon with a massage room with a portable table. The industry needs a "AAA/Mobil" kind of ranking to separate those types of facilities from real spas and wellness centers.

LSW: What is your favorite treatment to receive?

BF: I love treatments that have more than one modality or sequence within the protocol like our Deluxe Conditioning Body Scrub; within this 100-minute treatment, there is a scrub, hydrotherapy sequence and a full-body massage. It doesn't get much better than that!

LSW: How many treatment rooms do you have, and how big is the spa?

BF: SpaClub has 63 treatment rooms that include massage, body and skin care. We've got 65,000 square feet with more to come.

LSW: What type of spa is this?

BF: SpaClub is put in a few different categories. We are called a day spa at times because the resort we operate in, the Venetian, does not own SpaClub. However, I classify us as a resort spa.

LSW: How does the Canyon Ranch SpaClub differ from other spas here?

BF: Other spas in Las Vegas differ from us in many ways. First off, our menu of services and offerings dwarf those of other spas. Secondly, our fitness facility is second to none in the Las Vegas resort community. Lastly, the main differentiator is Canyon Ranch's commitment to helping people change their lives by furnishing guests with tools to make an incremental change in their lifestyle. Health and wellness is the main focus at Canyon Ranch SpaClub.

LSW: Do you offer a signature treatment?

BF: Yes, we offer Canyon Ranch signature treatments; one of them is the Canyon Ranch Mango Sugar Glo.

LSW: Tell me about it.

BF: This is the treatment that you will have today and is my favorite. The service starts with an exfoliation with a mango sugar mixture. The full body is exfoliated, followed by a hydrotherapy treatment. The hydrotherapy sequence lasts up to 15-20 minutes. The treatment then ends with a full body massage with a mango cream application. It is an incredible treatment.

LSW: Tell me about the water features offered at Canyon Ranch SpaClub.

BF: Within SpaClub, we have Jacuzzis in both locker rooms; two hydrotherapy tubs; two hydrotone thermals; Rasul; King's Bath; and soaking tubs.

LSW: What percent of services are massages, and how important is massage to your spa business?

image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Canyon Ranch Spa Director Blake Feeney stands next to the spa's indoor climbing wall. BF: Massage is a very important component to our business - nearly 50 percent.

LSW: How many massage therapists do you have on staff? Are they employees?

BF: We have approximately 105 therapists and growing. We hire full-time, part-time and on-call massage therapists. Full-time therapists receive health insurance, dental and vision; 401(k); vacation; sick time; and many other benefits. We accept applications at any time.

LSW: What do you look for when hiring a massage therapist?

BF: We look for someone who has good guest service skills and, of course, a confident, therapeutic, professional massage.

LSW: What type of training do massage therapists receive when they work here?

BF: SpaClub does an enormous amount of training for our therapists. We schedule in-house training for our signature services and we will bring in trainers for specific certifications like NMT, reflexology, shiatsu and the like. Our staff receives monies that can be used towards outside training as well.

LSW: What do you find is the best method for finding quality massage therapists?

BF: Developing relationships with our local massage schools have been very helpful. We will also travel out of Nevada on recruiting trips to find qualified therapists.

LSW: What is a typical day for a massage therapist?

BF: On a typical day, a therapist would be on the schedule for 6-8 hours with an hour lunch in between.

LSW: Thank you for your time today, Blake.

Time flew by and before I knew it, it was time for my spa appointment. After I was warmly greeted at check-in, I took a relaxing dip in the Jacuzzi and spent a few minutes in the steam room.

I met my massage therapist, Luke, who took me to the special wet room, which had both a wet table and hydrotherapy tub. Luke treated me to the spa's signature Mango Sugar Glo, a 100-minute treatment ($290, including gratuity). The mango sugar scrub started on the wet table followed by a hydrotherapy bath and a delightful moisturizing massage. I was in good hands, and Luke did a great job taking my jet lag away.

During your next trip to Las Vegas, be sure to visit the Canyon Ranch SpaClub, located on the fourth floor of the Venetian Hotel.

For more information, visit

Lynda Solien-Wolfe is Vice President, Massage and Spa at Performance Health. She is a Licensed Massage Therapist and has been in private practice in Merritt Island, Florida for more than 20 years. Lynda graduated from Space Coast Health Institute in West Melbourne, FL.


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