Wake Foot Spa, 507 South Gay Street, Knoxville, September 2022 (Photo by Hearther Ryerson)
(Ed. Note: Today’s Article and photographs are by Heather Ryerson)
Heavenly. That’s what it is.
When the Embassy Suites opened in 2019, I was intrigued by their choice of spa addition. After a trip to Asheville, NC, Ami Patel felt Wake Foot Sanctuary would be a good fit for Knoxville. And how lucky we are that she did. Inside of Knoxville covered the opening in 2019, but I still couldn’t wrap my head around it, so I booked an appointment and headed over for an update on business and to see for myself what all the fuss was about.
Originally opened in Asheville, NC, Wake Foot Sanctuary was created by Melissa Long and named after her families rescue dog, Wake. Seemingly a strange place to get a name for a spa, Long explains on the spa website that Wake’s personality embodied the experience she wanted to give her guests. They wanted to emulate his charm, approachableness, and loving attitude to everyone. This mentality is representative of everyone I met at the spa.
Traditional day spas have a variety of services that usually range from head-to-toe offerings. Wake Foot Sanctuary’s focus is on indulgent foot soaks with minerals and oils to relax and soothe tired feet and minds. You can add on a lower leg and foot massage, hand and arm massage or head, neck and shoulder massage, or simply soak your tired tootsies in peace.
I sat down with Lisa Pace, who is the general manager of the Knoxville location of Wake Foot Sanctuary. She has been with the spa since it opened in November 2019. They were making great strides at building the business and then Covid brought it all to a crashing halt.
After being closed for 3 months, Lisa returned and began to rebuild her front desk staff and roster of licensed massage therapists. Two years later, she now has a team of 15 and has very little turnover and almost no slow days. The atmosphere they have curated is just as enjoyable for the employees as it is for the guests who visit from all over whether just passing through, or locals like me.
Lisa describes the relaxing atmosphere as an opportunity for guests to take a break to escape the hustle of everyday life and get pampered, leaving stress on pause for a little while. She said she and her staff take pride in seeing a guest leave refreshed and almost a different person than they were before the service from the simple opportunity to rest and get pampered in those 45-80 minutes.
Lisa described her own fulfillment being able to help others relax in the sanctuary. Watching and listening to her describe the joy she gets from helping others through the spa services was inspiring. She told me she feels the job is more of a journey and she looks forward to coming in every day. This sentiment was reflected on her smiling face as she talked. A licensed massage therapist for the last 10 years, she has found her niche here and her positive attitude sets the tone for the rest of the staff.
After chatting with Lisa, it was my turn to experience what we had been talking about. In the treatment room, there are 8 comfy chairs seated in twos with shimmering curtains between each set for a little privacy. The lights were low and warm and the music was peaceful. I could see this being a great treat for small groups or parties, couples, and even companies looking for a unique way to have a staff retreat. They offer gift certificates as well as specials for teachers, nurses, and other public service employees.
From the list of soaks and packages offered, I chose the September special, Blueberry Lemonade. It is described as “luxurious blend of lavender, lemon, almond oil, purple sweet potato and white clay topped with dried lemon slices. This soak includes a 20 minute massage of the feet and lower legs, as well as 10 minutes of the head, neck and shoulders.” While it has no actual blueberries in it, the purple sweet potato gives it a lovely blueish/purple hue. The white clay and oils serve to soften the skin and relax the senses.
Mine was a 50 minute experience that began with the soak and warm neck and shoulder wrap as I enjoyed a lovely pot of my choice of tea-Vanilla Spice. They also have truffles from Bradley’s and other snacks you can add to your tray. Their beverage offerings range from hot tea to adult drinks like prosecco and bourbon.
My massage therapist, Delaney, is also a certified reflexologist and is the assistant spa director. Her calm energy and professionalism would put anyone at ease. I left feeling pampered and ready to plan my next visit. But if you don’t have 50+ minutes for a service, go by on a Tuesday for their “Local Tuesday” special and get a 30 minute soak with head, neck and shoulder massage on your lunch break!
In the lobby, you will find many locally sourced products and other small business products to help you continue the pampering at home. Kelsey, licensed esthetician and product specialist, was on hand to tell me about the offerings they have on hand. From their soothing neck wraps to body oils, bath salts and soaks to lotions, lip balms and candles, you can find the perfect gift for yourself or for a loved one.
To book your service with Wake Foot Sanctuary, I recommend giving them a call. While they do take walk-ins, they are often booked out 2-3 weeks, so making a reservation ahead of time is recommended. They do not take reservations online, but you can find the full menu on the site and read more about their mission as a company. Give them a call to schedule your small break from reality.