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Colonial House Day Spa

By: Abby Penning
Posted: October 26, 2009, from the November 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Colonial House Day Spa is just as its name implies—an inviting skin care business located in a North Easton, Massachusetts, Federalist Colonial home built in 1795, during President George Washington’s second term. Throughout the house’s 214-year lifetime, it has actually only belonged to four families, the latest of whom, the Onges, have turned it into a warm, appealing spa. Offering facials, massage, body treatments, nail services and more, the space was like a dream come true for owner Pamela Onges. In 1988, she opened her first spa, named Le Beau Visage, and it was located in a strip mall.

“I was driving down the street, looking for real estate on the main drag because I was tired of renting in the shopping plaza, when I saw the house, and I think I actually had to pull over,” Onges laughs. “I said, ‘Omigosh, that’s my house!’ ” And despite the fact that the house wasn’t actually for sale during that first sighting, she was able to snap it up when it went on the market a short time later, making the move to the home in November 1993.

While restoring the building and creating her spa space within it, Onges strived to maintain the house’s roots and traditions, causing her to eventually rename the business Colonial House Day Spa in September 2003. “I wanted it to keep all the character and history it had enjoyed for more than 200 years,” she says, noting that the house itself is an aspect that really sets her business apart. Clients receive facials and body treatments in quiet, well-appointed rooms featuring linen curtains, original light fixtures and fireplaces, and pedicures are done in Queen Anne recliner chairs to match the atmosphere.

That homey spirit is something that is also promoted when it comes to client relationships. With her daughter Ashley—who was just 4 years old when the spa opened—and herself as the only staff members, Onges finds that organization is a necessity, but also cherishes the time she has with clients. “I’ve had up to eight employees at one point, but that was so crazy and hectic. We certainly have scheduling down to a science now,” she explains. Onges uses the pace to cultivate lasting relationships. “Our clients literally have become our best friends,” she says. “I’m always excited, thinking, ‘Oh, Mary Ann is coming in today, and Cathy will be here tomorrow!’ They come to our celebrations and events, we go to their events—we’re old friends. In fact, most of our clients have been with us for a good 20 years.”

That loyalty has sometimes even presented a challenge to the spa. “We’ve had trouble getting clients to refer their friends to us because they’re worried they won’t be able to get an appointment for themselves,” Onges explains. However, interesting offerings, such as the $10,000 Ultimate Spa Experience, have drawn enough interest to overcome such difficulties.