In January, 2008, Thomas and Caroline Hootman opened Simply Spa with the goal of providing a simple, no-pressure experience for clients in Santee and the East County. Five years later, Simply Spa is still going strong, now in a new location. On Sunday, March 3 – after several weeks of delays – the doors opened on a smaller but just as inviting location.
“Obviously we didn’t move out of Santee,” said Thomas Hootman, as if anyone could imagine Simply Spa going anywhere else. “We love it. We’re going to continue to take care of the people in this town, keep doing it organically and all-naturally, keep doing massages, keep doing facials and just keep plugging away. Making Santee a better place.”
When their lease in Town Center, near Ross, came up for renewal at the end of 2012 the Hootman’s decided to look for a location that would better meet their needs. With parking already limited by the center’s design, they knew that the construction and opening of the new Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant across the parking lot would greatly impact their clients.
“My guess is we’ll literally have to park four blocks away just to get in there,” Thomas said.
A second major factor was the cost involved. While the old center has insisted on keeping their original price-per-square-foot structure, most of the surrounding centers have adjusted to fit the current market rate. With a savings of about a dollar per square foot each month, the Hootmans will be able to put money into future expansion rather than current operations. With the large empty space of the former ShapExpress next door, that was a serious consideration.
There were a number of delays, due in large part to having both their own contractor and the building owner’s contractor working on the space. While some may have wanted to blame permitting and the city, Thomas said that was not the case.
“The city did exactly what they’re supposed to do, look at everything with a fine-toothed comb to make sure we’re doing the right things,” he said. “They actually expedited the process for us, as well.”
“I’m glad we have a new place,” said Caroline Hootman. “It’s going to be exciting having a new atmosphere. It’s been a long road, but it’s nice to be able to say we’ve been open for five years. I think we built such a good clientele at the other location that it wasn’t a problem to move. Everybody came with us. At the grand reopening a lot of people have come in who have been our clients for the last several years. It feels good to own a business that’s been around for a while.”
For those who worry that the eclectic atmosphere of Simply Spa is changing with the new location, have no fear. Caroline assured that the popular rooms have not changed, except possibly being a little smaller.
“We kept the same decorations and feel as the old location – so the New England Room, the Sedona/New Mexico Room and the Asian Room,” she explained.
One treatment that the Hootmans were not able to continue is the full body scrub. That would have necessitated building showers, which the new location does not have enough space to do properly. However, the former ShapExpress does have showers, and the goal is to be able to expand into that space in the next 18 months.
For now, Simply Spa will add two new treatments to take the place of the full body scrub. “For Mother’s Day we’re going to add a bamboo massage where you use warm bamboo sticks to massage with,” Caroline explained. “Probably in the next two months we’re going to add microdermabrasion, which we didn't have before.”
For the grand reopening, the Hootmans called on Santee’s Coffee Corner and The Cupcake Store to provide refreshments. The owners of the Cupcake Store even opened on Sunday, normally their day off, to bake fresh mini cupcakes in chocolate, red velvet and caramel. Coffee Corner brought in some of their favorite coffees as well as a selection of teas. The combination was too much for anyone to resist.
Also joining in on the fun was a new fashion accessory company, Incretabow, owned by Creta del Llano. The company creates “fun and funky” bows, hair ribbons and ties that are just a little bit edgy. Creta del Llano was on hand to share some of her company’s handiwork and to talk about how they take the client’s personality into consideration when creating a new bow.
Santee Vice Mayor and unofficial “Mr. Santee” Rob McNelis was on hand for the event, along with newly-crowned Miss Teen Santee Marissa Lawrence. Miss Lawrence is the second Miss Teen Santee to have been sponsored by Simply Spa, following 2010 Miss Teen Santee Taylor Shelton. Finis Oh, from Senator Joel Anderson’s office, presented a proclamation from the California Senate honoring Simply Spa’s five years and celebrating their reopening.
Over their five years, the Hootmans have developed a faithful and ever-growing clientele from throughout San Diego County. For most small businesses, that five year mark is important – often being an indication that the company has weathered early growing pains and is on the road to long-term success. Thomas and Caroline know that they passed that point at least a year ago. As their regular clientele has grown and their reputation has spread, the spa’s security has also increased.
“We just noticed the last two years that we really were doing something right,” said Caroline.
Simply Spa is now located in the Food 4 Less center at 9470 Cuyamaca Street, Suite 120. They are open from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. If you are interested in a massage, you can call them at 619-258-5810 or schedule online through their website.