A local massage therapist, who has been providing her services at area major sporting events, such as Ironman, has launched a business aimed at hotel patrons.
“A lot of athletes would ask us if we would be able to come to the hotel because they couldn’t get in anywhere close by,” MASAJ founder and licensed massage therapist Rebecca Dennison said.
Dennison also has clients who travel often to Chattanooga for business and, as she thought about her customers and the requests from athletes, proverbial light bulbs started going off in her head, leading her to start the new business, she said.
She’s hired four other massage therapists who are aiming to bring wellness to hotel guests by providing professional, licensed in-room massages.
The business offers a variety of options, including deep tissue, athletic, therapeutic and pregnancy massages. Customers can book online and choose a 60, 90 or 120-minute massage.
It costs $10 or $15 more than if a client went to a spa, but the extra expense is for the convenience of having the massage therapist come to the hotel.
Dennison is already working with a variety of area hotels, such as the Chattanooga Choo Choo and the Hilton Garden Inn.
Legally, she is allowed to go into any hotel, she said. But for those, such as the Westin, who already work with a specific massage therapist, she said she would defer to their professional before jumping on that business.
With her new business, Dennison is also aiming to change the perception of her profession.
Many people view getting a massage as only something done as pampering, she said.
But massage therapists are certified by the board of health, like other medical professionals, she said.
“For too long massage has been viewed as something you do to pamper yourself once in a while, instead of using regular massage to manage pain, reduce anxiety, improve immunity, enhance athletic abilities and increase overall health,” she said.
She’s also aiming to capitalize on health and wellness trends. Restaurants are adding gluten-free and vegan options and hotels have fitness centers. Many travelers want to maintain their healthy lifestyles when they are away from home.
Adding massage complements those services and the wellness trends, Dennison said.
The New Jersey native moved to Chattanooga almost four years ago and has quickly fallen for the Scenic City.
She wants everyone who visits to love it the way she did and hopes her services will make people feel more welcome, she said.
“There is so much to do in Chattanooga, and everyone is so friendly,” she said. “You can’t help but fall in love with this place.”