Bella Aqua to close after 10 years

Massage therapist Darrah Johnson, administering a massage to a customer at Bella Aqua Spa on Friday, will be one of the professionals moving to The Facial Aesthetics Studio and Bodyworks Massage next month.

From left, current Bella Aqua Spa massage therapist Darrah Johnson, receptionist Debbie Cooper, and esthetician Emily Reis will start a new business following the spa’s closure next month.

LAURINBURG — After 10 years of welcoming customers to a tranquil environment of scented candles and soft music, the downtown Bella Aqua Spa will close its doors next month.

The spa is downsizing in part due to a loss of business over the last year and to the poor health of its owner, Andrea Driggers, causing her to step away from the demands of managing it.

Bella Aqua has been located at 301 South Main St. since October 2005, and will close on July 24. In 10 years of business, Driggers has learned the true value of a relaxing massage or facial to her clients, many of whom are busy women with full-time jobs and families.

“So many people are so stressed,” she said, noting that some clients come to the spa at the suggestion of their doctor. “That’s kind of overused, but we see people going through grief and we take care of people going through health issues or dealing with pain.”

The spa’s complement of services has also included spray tanning, medical strength chemical peels, medical microdermabrasion, oxygen facials, skin tightening and wrinkle reduction, waxing services, and eyelash extensions.

“Our therapists really recognize the importance of that hands-on touch for comfort,” said Driggers. “It is a rewarding experience helping to alleviate stress. All the therapists at heart just care about their clients and want to be there to help them.”

Though business remained vibrant through the recession, it inexplicably began to wane in 2014. It has also suffered from a shortage of qualified therapists interested in working in the area.

“It’s been a month-by-month struggle,” Driggers said. “From what we gathered from our clients, it’s not that they don’t want to come in, but families having to cut corners to save money.”

After Bella Aqua’s closing, massage therapist Darrah Johnson and esthetician Emily Reis will set up shop in early August — as The Facial Aesthetics Studio and Bodyworks Massage — in the Heritage House building at 713 South Main St.

The new location will continue to offer most Bella Aqua treatments, excluding nail services, and will be smaller, eliminating extra space not used at the current spa location.

“There’s going to be some changes in the menu and services will probably be more affordable with our overhead being less,” said Driggers.

A member of the International Society of Oncology Estheticians, Driggers hopes to switch gears and volunteer some of her time helping cancer patients with their skin care needs.

“The autoimmune diseases that I have kind of propelled me into wanting to provide skin care for people that have cancer or autoimmune diseases that really are detrimental to their skin.”

Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.

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