There's the Rub

Sacred Hour caters to the weary, the athletic — and everyone else

What's the greatest revelation among visitors to Sacred Hour? It's not the wonderfully tranquil setting of the Rocky River massage spa, or even the accommodating staff on hand to attend to each guest's needs.

It's the gender equality of it all: About half of Sacred Hour's clientele are men and half are women, according to owner Tabitha Baker. Self-love, it appears, is blind.

"Men always go really? And women always go really?," says Baker, who recently relocated Sacred Hour to an upscale shopping district in Rocky River after eight years of prosperity in Lakewood. She delights in sharing details of virtually every element of the new space: The floors are sound-absorbing cork. Treatment tables are heated. Lighting in the massage areas and recovery lounge is sleepily dimmed. The sounds of David Darling, Tibetan reed music, and gentle cello permeate the air.

It's a distant world away from the bustle outside her doors.

"Most massages happen in a clinical setting, with foot diagrams on the wall," Baker says. "Other places offer only a basic massage, so people will give the same massage over and over again. Variety makes work really enjoyable" — for the specialist as well as the recipient.

Sacred Hour's roster of available "rituals" can seem virtually endless. Individual therapists specializes in the practices of various cultures, including Swedish and Thai massage.

Swedish massage may be the most traditional form, says Baker, but Thai is the most distinctive and unusual offering — and also her own personal favorite. It calls for the recipient to be clothed, and does not even center around lying down; instead, therapists guide a series of intensive stretches and poses on the floor.

Specialized massages are also offered for pregnant women, couples, and athletes. "A lot of our clients are runners," says Baker. "For them, we have a massage that's faster and more regionally focused." Sacred Hour also features specialists in body and facial enhancements, waxing, and body scrubs, and many services can be paired in any number of combination packages.

In an effort to bring some measure of peace even to those who don't pass through their doors, Sacred Hour's therapists each donate 1 percent of their annual gross sales to the charity of their choice, and Baker matches each donation as well. It might not provide the instant relief of an hour on the table, but it's a most welcome step toward global wellness.

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