SEP 2014

DAYSPA is the business resource for spa & wellness professionals! Each issue covers the latest in skin care, spa treatments, wellness services and management strategies.

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20 DAYSPA | SEPTEMBER 2014 PROFILE Leap of Faith A green and gutsy spa owner leaves no stone unturned in his quest to recreate an authentic experience. By Lesley McCave For some business owners, the opening of a spa is the culmination of a lifelong dream, the result of endless late nights spent poring over spreadsheets and business plans. For Barry Walker, the driving force was a vision born of a desire to recreate the authentic experience he'd enjoyed in Thailand, and to mentally transport fellow massage junkies to the other side of the world. "I knew what I wanted to walk into, and that if I could just fi ll it with really good masseuses and practitioners and real-deal acupuncturists, then I'd be in the right zone," Walker explains. A decade after bringing that vision to fruition in the form of the Raven, a 4,000-square-foot spa and yoga studio in Los Angeles, Walker now has a second spa under his belt. In 2004, Walker was the owner of four antiques stores in the Sunset Junction neighborhood of Silver Lake, a trendy L.A. suburb. After one heavy furniture lift too many, he visited his chiropractor, who told him that to relieve the pressure in his back, he'd need a massage every day for a month. "A light bulb went on in my head," recalls Walker. "I thought, 'I could fl y to Asia to do that—the cost would work out the same.'" Walker and then-girlfriend-now- wife, Shauna, were soon on a plane bound for Thailand, where they spent fi ve weeks travelling around, getting daily massages. "It literally changed my life. I came back a different person," Walker recounts. Back in L.A., the couple struggled to fi nd Thai massages just like the ones they'd enjoyed on their trip. All they encountered were neon-lit strip-mall spaces where the massages were good but the setting was less than magical, or posh hotel spas where the surroundings A sturdy yet soothing fountain is the focal point of the main treatment area. PHOTOS COURTESY JOLIE KINGA

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