On a humid afternoon in Hong Kong, visitors meet ladies lounging with their feet in a pool, pants rolled up to the knee. Some might giggle, because it tickles when fish swimming around their ankles nibble their toes.
Soon Coastside residents will be able to experience massage practices that have been part of many Asian cultures for generations.
Lynn Xu, a guru in all things relaxing, hopes to open her Cloud 9 Foot Spa at 2320 Cabrillo Highway by the end of September.
“(Half Moon Bay doesn’t) have many similar places … I wanted to find a place where we can catch more customers,” Xu said of opening the first spa of its kind in the city.
Xu emigrated from Beijing to the Bay Area in 2006. When Xu first arrived, she was a facialist at a spa that offered a variety of services.
What she noticed customers enjoying most, however, were the foot massages, which were already gaining popularity in her native China.
Xu was a tenderfoot in the industry but decided to turn her observation into a business. Her Oceanic Foot Spa in Foster City opened its doors in 2010.
The spa offered short full-body massages but specialized in treating tender toes with reflexology. The practice involves work on pressure points in the feet to affect other areas of the body.
“The foot is a mirror of the body,” explained Lisa Mandelbaum, the founder of holistic care clinic Coastside Healing Arts in Half Moon Bay. She said that the lungs, heart, brain and other vital organs may be accessed via the feet.
At first, business was relatively slow at Oceanic Foot Spa. Most American customers had never had such a foot massage, Xu explained.
After two years, however, her business more than doubled. Instead of the 30 or so customers Oceanic Foot Spa booked per day when it first opened, it now serves 70 to 90 clients daily.
While some are newcomers, there are quite a few regulars. Some parents even bring their kids with them once every two weeks.
At Cloud 9 in Half Moon Bay, Xu will start small by offering basic services. A one-hour foot massage, which includes a mini body massage, costs $35. A full body massage is $55 an hour.
Members of Cloud 9’s massage team will be required to be certified by the California Massage Therapy Council, Xu said.
When Xu opens the spa later this month, she hopes that Cloud 9 will become a place where friends and family of all ages can deal with stress — or just kick their feet up and find relief.