By Camille Gillies

If you thought that a $25 massage would get you a hack masseuse and a rickety table in a ramshackle shell, think again. In the case of Essentials Massage & Facials, located off S.R. 56 in Wesley Chapel, $25 can buy you an hour of the kind of luxury many people thought they couldn’t afford in light of today’s economy.

At Essentials, located near Sam’s Club in the Seven Oaks professional park, that incredible price gets you an hour-long relaxation (Swedish) massage in a luxurious setting with an experienced, licensed massage therapist (LMT) that rivals those you’d find at a five-star hotel. That same jaw-dropping price of $25 also pays for a European facial performed by the highly trained, licensed aestheticians at Essentials, who use top-of-the-line skincare products.

“You can’t find a value like this anywhere in New Tampa,” says co-owner Forrest Gorman, who opened the spa with his wife Tania last June. “We offer a five-star experience at fast-food prices.” Tania is one of the three certified aestheticians who perform facials at Essentials of New Tampa.

Spa manager Susan Roger points out that Essentials is unlike other spas in the area in another respect, too.

“We don’t require our customers to sign contracts here,” she says. “You can visit as often as you like and you are only charged the price of the service each time.”

Essentials Massage & Facials is a franchise that began in Pinellas County and currently has 14 locations in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Sarasota and Pasco.

“Since last summer, the business has grown from six locations to a total of 14,” Forrest says. “We are the only Essentials Massage franchise in Pasco County, so we have customers come to us from Dade City, New Port Richey, Odessa, Brooksville…pretty much all over the area.”

Despite the rigors of launching this new business, the Gormans both maintain their primary careers: Forrest is an engineer and Tania is a specialist in the hospitality industry. They moved to New Tampa from Brandon last August to be closer to their business and because, Forrest says, they fell in love with the area. “This was the right place for us, personally,” he explains. “We could have chosen to open the business in Carrollwood, but we fell in love with the people and the demographics here. New Tampa and Wesley Chapel just have so much to offer.”


Quality Services At Unbeatable Prices!

The licensed massage therapy services at Essentials include several different choices: relaxation ($25 for one hour, $45 for 90 minutes), deep tissue ($35), neuromuscular ($35), reflexology ($35), prenatal ($35), and hot stone ($49.95). All are performed by LMTs who possess an average of nearly five years of experience, according to Gorman. All massage services include full-body exfoliation and a hot-towel treatment. Massage customers must be a minimum age of 16 unless they are accompanied by a parent.

“Many of our customers have never had a message before,” Susan says. “It just wasn’t affordable for them. But, with our prices, many are able to come here on a regular basis. We have a lot of repeat business.”

Massage is enjoyed by young and old alike. “We have a group of four older ladies who make the trip here weekly from Dade City,” Susan says. “Massage is a source of relief to many people suffering from arthritis or simply from the aches and pains associated with pulled muscles and past injuries.”

Couples massages also are available and, Forrest says, are a fun and relaxing way to spend an evening. The couple shares a room, but each person has his or her own massage therapist.

“Some couples come in again and again,” he says. “It’s a great way to unwind together, and the cost is about the same as a night at the movies.” Not surprisingly, couples massage is a popular activity for Valentine’s Day, anniversaries and other special events.

Forrest says Essentials’ affordable skin services also are becoming increasingly popular as the word gets out about the quality and the value. Facial options include European ($25 for one hour), acne ($40), anti-aging ($40), back facials ($40) microdermabrasion ($55), and chemical peels ($49.95).

“For our facials, we use GM Collin products, which is a skincare line used at five-star spas as well as at the Academy Awards,” Tania says.

As an added service, Essentials invites a cosmetic dermatology practitioner from a local medical practice to provide consultations for customers interested in Botox injections and Juvederm or Restylane dermal fillers.

Another popular special is a $49.95 microdermabrasion and facial combination that is available on Mondays and Wednesdays only. Susan says that these services — and events such as a “mini-spa day,” which includes a one-hour massage, one-hour facial, light lunch and a glass of wine, all for $65 — would be triple the cost elsewhere.

Essentials also offers a “Ladies Night Out” package ($95 per person), which includes a European facial, one-hour massage, complimentary exfoliation, wine, cheese and crackers in a private salon setting. Susan says it is a popular choice for birthdays and bridal parties and it’s available any weeknight between 6 and 9 and all day on Sunday.

Other spa services include waxing, as well as hot and cold body wraps that concentrate on detox and cellulite reduction. Susan says ladies might consider a wrap before a big occasion when they are trying to slim down to fit into a special dress.

If you’re interested in hair removal, Essentials offers all types of waxing services, from eyebrows and underarms, to bikini areas and legs. The spa features a room used exclusively for this service.

Essentials also reserves a room for spa parties. The spa will even close to the public for private gatherings and tailor events to suit customers’ needs.

“We can even do mimosa breakfast parties as well as wine-and-cheese evening events,” Susan says. An a la carte menu is available to help you plan.

With Mother’s Day and the June wedding season fast approaching, you might want to take note of the gift certificates and party packages available at Essentials Massage & Facials (2230 Ashley Oaks Circle, Wesley Chapel). Or heck, go ahead and treat yourself! Call 527-6979 or visit

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