As ambient music pipes softly through a stereo, 18-year-old Hannah Cuen lies back in a chair as Kitty Arosteguy massages the pressure points of her forehead.
“That feels good,” Cuen says, her upper body covered with a towel.
Arosteguy, who has been in the spa business for 20 years, continues to rub Cuen’s face, performing a deep cleansing facial with a new skin care product.
“Getting someone to relax is the whole thing with healing,” she says.
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In an adjacent room, decorated with a gong and featuring the aroma of rubbing oils, a masseuse named Moon Leaf rubs the neck and shoulders of another teen, Quinn Ricigliano.
“If I’m real sore, tight or upset — anything where I’m without a good equilibrium — I know I need a massage,” Ricigliano had said a few minutes earlier.
Once considered pampering for the wealthy, spa treatments have become popular among young people, said Arosteguy, who owns The Spa Central Coast, which partners with Aracely Plateroti’s Plateroti Center to offer spa treatment and holistic wellness in Paso Robles.
“I’ve actually had kids as young as 5 years old getting a massage,” said Arosteguy, who estimates that she has around 20 youth clients compared to more than 100 regular adult clients.
While the young clients are evenly split between boys and girls, she said, boys tend to request massages more while girls request more facial treatments. Many of the boys, she explained, have sore muscles related to sports.
“It’s definitely a huge area of growth,” Arosteguy said.
To recruit younger customers, Arosteguy currently offers a teen discount package. In the past she has offered a Mommy & Me package to encourage kids to come with their parents.
Ricigliano began going to the spa with her mother when she was just 6.
“I felt fancy when I was younger,” said the 19-year-old, who now goes to Cal Poly and lives in San Luis Obispo.
Her 16-year-old brother, she said, also frequents the spa, typically for a massage to relieve muscle tightness caused by playing basketball. She gets both facial treatments and massages. “I play tennis a lot so I have wrist issues,” she said. Cuen, of Atascadero, began getting spa treatments at age 12. The effects of a good massage, she said, last a while after the massage.
“You kind of feel zoned out of the world for a little bit,” said Cuen, a Cuesta College student who now works at the spa as a receptionist. “You just kind of go to a different state.”
Just like adults, Arosteguy said, kids can experience stress and depression. Having a massage, she said, can offer relaxation, while a facial treatment with acne cream can help bolster self-esteem.
When she was in high school, Ricigliano said, word of mouth about spa treatments spread quickly. Sometimes she would even recommend it to a friend who appeared distressed.
“There are some people you look at and say, ‘You need a massage right now.”