What would make the owner of a successful tanning salon consider selling his business to a 20-year-old upstart? Robert Paolini may have been young, but he’d earned his bronze-colored stripes; since he was 16 years old, he’d worked long hours at the salon, and his friendly manner put customers at ease. When the sale fell through, Robert put together his own business plan, gathered investors—some of whom were former tanning clients—and opened his own salon, The Hot Spot Tanning Co.
The salon has since weathered a boom in the tanning business, and Robert attributes the company’s survival to an amicable staff, who have created an atmosphere he compares to the show Cheers. “People who tan visit the salon three to four times a week, more often than they go to the grocery store,” says Robert. “They want to go where they feel comfortable.” So in each private room, tanners can stow their gear safely on sturdy shelves, hang clothing on hooks, and refresh after sessions with deodorant, makeup remover, and hand wipes.
Warm-skinned patrons slip from high-pressure tanning booths, which coax out melanin with lights designed to avert burns and lend credence to claims that one is a model in a water-wings catalog. Against the hushed hiss of a Mystic Tan booth, Robert presides over a selection of supplements, sports drinks, and shakes, and draws on a certification in sports nutrition while guiding clients through health and weight-loss programs.
A wildly successful alternative to traditional day spas—its more than 300 locations blanket 36 states and half a dozen countries—Planet Beach Contempo Spa Eastlake is a futuristic relaxation station where state-of-the-art machines administer all the spa and tanning services. These friendly automatons sometimes replace familiar treatments, as in a red light therapy bed, which does a red light treatment on the full body. But other equipment maps out new spa territory entirely: the Hydro-Derma Fusion chamber moisturizes the whole body with nutrient-rich steam in order to offset the effects of a dry climate or a rear-end collision with a salt truck. A Saunatox and other machines whiten teeth, and spray tan skin.
Planet Beach operates on a gym-style membership system, meaning that members purchase packages or pay flat monthly rates. As members spend more time at the spa, they get to know the helpful assistants who are always on hand to demonstrate how to use the equipment without activating its ability to cry.
South Beach is known for its signature art-deco designs, pristine beaches, and energetic nightlife. Taking a cue from that dynamic locale, the staff members of South Beach Tanning Company have decorated their various locations in the spirit of South Beach and pride themselves on their upbeat, lounge-like vibe. Inside each salon, cheery lighting and bright purple, blue, and red walls augment the high-quality equipment and shelves of handpicked lotions, and high ceilings stop newly acquired tans from floating off just-bronzed bodies.
Stocked with four tiers of UV tanning beds alongside Norvell airbrush-tanning systems, House of Tans' meticulously clean facility invites clients to build bronzed glows for beach-ready complexions or special occasions. UV beds upgrade classic encapsulating designs with perks such as audio systems, cooling fans, and neck and shoulder reflectors that beam rays toward hard-to-reach spots. The salon?s retinue of trained airbrush technicians also mists patrons in a bronzer-enhanced Norvell tanning spray that inspires a natural-looking golden hue over 24 hours, conferring up to seven days of radiant skin that might taste like a California golden raisin. The salon also offers patrons access to a supply of Twilight Teeth whitening kits, which use UV rays to brighten smiles that contrast strongly with well-tanned skin tones, and Fit body wraps, which may burn up to 1,500 calories per session.
As business partners, spouses, and licensed massage therapists, Gary and Karen Amundson have spent the past 25 years mending muscles at Massage Therapy Center of Florida. Their sinew-soothing skills caught the attention of the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce, who dubbed them Business of the Year in 2000. Gary and Karen begin all of their massage sessions with heated lotion and conclude with a hot towel, sandwiching in techniques such as prenatal massage, trigger-point therapy, and myofascial release. In addition to nurturing injured tissues, they keep their shelves stocked with Biofreeze, a menthol-infused topical pain reliever that subdues soreness and cures rare cases of shoulder halitosis. Gary and Karen also collaborate with licensed aestheticians Donna Byrd and Laura Symons, who nourish epidermises with spa treatments such as facials, body wraps, and waxing.
The trained paw pamperers at A+ Nails shine up nails with the refining ministrations of an express mani-pedi. Over the course of approximately 30 to 50 minutes, skilled technicians equip opposable knuckles with shiny new finger helmets worthy of a Costanza hand model. Patrons bold enough to put hands and feet where a member of the skilled staff can see them reap rewards including a hand and foot soak, hot-towel massages, and a neat nail trimming of fingernails and toenails. To ensure a polished appearance, technicians gently groom cuticles into more sightly dispositions. Finally, perfectly symmetrical tips enjoy pampering denied their formerly unruly predecessors, including a gentle massage with skin-silkening lotion. The speedy service concludes with a coat of colorful polish, sealing in a brightly hued shine for top and bottom tensomes.