That’s what I was wondering about this massage chain. As a spa lover, I thought it was about time I tried Massage Envy and must admit I was pleasantly surprised!

Massage Envy, for those of you who don’t know, is a chain of 624 locations in 42 states started in Scottsdale Arizona by businessman John Leonesio. Formerly an owner of full service fitness centers with massage, he had the idea of offering inexpensive massage services in an upscale setting on a membership basis like a gym. In 2002 he opened his first location hoping to sell 400 massages per month. The first month they signed up 1,400 members. And in 2003 started to franchise into the nationwide chain.

I was vaguely familiar with their concept … kept getting flyers for it in Valu-pak offering an introductory one hour massage for $49… so I scheduled an appointment. I showed up 10 minutes early, checked in at reception and was escorted back to the waiting area. Very nice room with rather comfy chairs, soothing purple color (their signature color) and subtle art on the walls. My masseuse came to take me back to the room. She was lovely! The room, again very nice painted in the soothing purple, had a standard massage bed with sheets, a fuzzy blanket and the perfect heating pad on it. And my one hour massage was fantastic … great pressure, relaxing, just what I needed!

The place was very busy as my masseuse escorted me out to reception for my check out. Unfortunately this is where my calm state was interrupted. While the woman who checked me out was very nice, she put on the HARD sell for their membership.  After a 10 minute back and forth, I finally convinced the woman I was not interested in the membership program. They hook you with their introductory massage, a one time deal, then after your massage, they pitch you on their membership program… the base of their business.

Massage Envy’s goal is to provide massages to more people by being available more hours and charging less. And they’ve used the membership approach to make it available to everyone. Their membership program is actually a nice deal … $59 monthly fee gives you one massage per month and additional massages/friends & family massages at discounted rates at any of their locations nationwide. They have great hours, are open seven days a week and offer everything from swedish to reflexology to cranial sacral massage. Many locations have also started offering facials. But without membership, your next massage will cost $98.

What I love about spas is trying out new places and treatments. While I do like going back to favorites, I can’t see going to the same place every month unless I really needed it or had no options. I’d definitely go back for the masseuse, but for $98, I could go to a much nicer spa!

Overall my recommendation …nice for a try but not a monthly desire.