2021 Reader’s Choice Winner: Best Spa, Soyokaze Massage Midlothian
Soyokaze means “a gentle breeze” and it has been the mission of the Soyokaze Massage Therapy studio in Midlothian to provide a calm and comfortable place for its clients to “escape the hassles of daily life and achieve a state of total relaxation.”
Located at North 8th Street, in Midlothian Texas, 76065, it moved from Arlington to the present building in 2010, with the core values of the studio are decidedly different from other massage therapy spas. The first thing you’ll notice is what is missing: there are no placards reminding you to leave a big gratuity. “We believe that when you pay for a service, you should not be expected to pay anything else,” says founder and owner Renee Cook. She only wants the best for her clients – and no surprises – and she works hard to make that happen.
Born in Hawaii, Renee says she was “an army brat.” She traveled with her family until ending up back in Midlothian where her mother grew up. At the age of thirteen she got her first job at the local Polar Bear Ice Cream house, and says, “I was given keys to the shop to open and close and did just about everything. Looking back on it now, it seems kind of crazy to give that much responsibility to a teenager.”
Strong Foundation Laid In High School
But being responsible came naturally to her, and she thrived in all areas of the business. A few years later, in high school, she began a work-study program that taught her more and introduced her to her mentor, Dr. Buckner, the local chiropractor. She was his Chiropractic assistant for years while learning how to run a business and even learned how to be an X-ray technician. She attributes the school’s work-study program and Dr. Buckner to much of her success later in life. “He’s about 93 now and still drives his car around town like a fighter pilot!” she says with a laugh.
After graduating from high school, she attended Cedar Valley Community College. Her next job at the local mattress factory was hard because, “I was the last one hired – and the first one fired when they had their downturn.”
But with so much business experience already, she knew she’d get another job.
Becoming her own boss was important. Now she heads up multiple businesses and is expanding the spa. The opportunity to make her own decisions and keep her business growing, even through the toughest part of last year, makes her happy.
COVID shut down the spa for over a month last year. “It was really hard.” Renee remembers. “Our therapists rely on their jobs here for income. And we have some clients whose health is reliant on Massage. It broke my heart to tell them we were closed.” Renee says they have clients of all ages who need regular massage to help them keep them healthy and strong. “It’s not just older clients who need it but people with physical issues that need massage to keep their joints loose, keep fluid moving, keep them healthy.”
While shut down Renee turned to upgrading the spa facility, making it cleaner and safer for all. She installed UV ionic air scrubbers that target allergens, particles, and viruses in the air. There is a touch-less hand washing station for clients and therapists to use and intense sanitation protocols which include entire room turn overs, relentlessly disinfecting of common areas, and increasing the time between sessions so a room can be fully disinfected.
Masks are encouraged in the main areas and hallways, due to the limited space, and therapists wear a mask during a client’s session. Check-out for all is also touchless. Credit cards are encouraged for this reason.
All the upgrades are working. “The spa is very busy now.” Renee says, “In the past, we had a little lull in bookings when school started – but not this year. Now we typically have 20 to 30 clients on our wait list. So, we’re expanding.” Renee says she works hard to make sure if a client can’t get in to see the therapist he or she prefers, there will be one who can make a client feel just as relaxed and special. “We make sure no client is disappointed.” Her hiring routine is rigorous.
Auditions aren’t just for actors and singers. At Soyokaze Massage, every person coming in for an interview to be a massage therapist or a skin care professional must go through an audition, and that comes AFTER they fill out a questionnaire that asks them why they want to work there.
Soyokaze Massage doesn’t hire just anybody. They look for the very best therapists and try them out before offering them a job. The ultimate goal at Soyokaze Massage is to provide the best possible experience to each client coming in to relax and rejuvenate.
The atmosphere in Soyokaze Massage is similar: nothing but the best is allowed once inside. All distractions are eliminated, so the peaceful atmosphere can permeate each individual coming to relax. Therapists only ask questions regarding what a client needs during a massage or facial, allowing clients to enjoy their time in the spa in a quiet, relaxing silence.
The cost is similar to chain massage companies that add a gratuity to their hourly charge: $85 for an hour of relaxation massage, $105 for deep tissue. Longer sessions are also available for slightly more. Clients with Medical Savings Accounts can use theirs to pay for their massages in most cases. Facials are also available for the same price.
A Family Affair
Renee’s daughter Krystal Hughes is Executive Spa Director. Promoted last October to the position, she says she enjoys working with and for her Mom. “She’s great because she gives me the creative freedom, I need to do my job. And she’ll make the calls that need to be made if I can’t get to it. I love working with her!”
Married to Thomas for six years, Krystal says, “we live right down the street,” and her husband works in another of the family’s many businesses, on the computer side. “We’re just a family of entrepreneurs!
Renee also has a grown son, and a two-year-old German Shepherd, Coco.
Looking Towards The Future
A Cancer survivor, Renee is trying her best to slow down and take care of herself, just as she takes care of her clients.
She’s seen her small town grow over the past four decades, and has been very involved in it, as a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Business Association. She even ran the Civic Center while managing four or five family businesses.
But she remembers when Midlothian was your typical small town. “Back in the day, before the bypass was completed, I made a minor traffic infraction and my grandmother called me to ask me why I was stopped by the police – mind you, it had just happened!” That small-town feel is still in Midlothian, even as it grows.
After her Cancer diagnosis in 2016, Renee says, “My daughter said I had to resign from some of these different positions for my own health.” Renee says she loved chairing the town’s Christmas Parade and local Easter Egg Hunt, and the Annual Chamber Dinner, but realizes now she needs to slow down and relax, like she tells her clients to do, to stay healthy.
Now Cancer-free, expanding the spa is her priority today, and because her daughter is handling that, Renee can relax a bit – just like her spa clients.
Soyokaze Massage Therapy is located in an unassuming building where you wouldn’t guess the best massages in the county are given. Open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and until 7 p.m. on the weekends. Call 972-775-8998 411 to make an appointment.
Soyokaze Massage Therapy is known for its relaxing massages and calming yet friendly ambience. The massage rooms have surround sound, faux candlelight, and are cool, dark, and quietly peaceful. The massage beds are warm and cozy. Couples’ massages are also available and a big hit with the locals who’ve discovered this little piece of heaven.