If you have ever wondered what it is like to work as a massage therapist in the high-end resort spa world, you will find your questions answered here. I have been lead massage therapist at several major resorts on the Las Vegas Strip and have been a professional massage therapist for 20 years.
Las Vegas has strong roots in tourism, and the pandemic greatly disrupted travel to the city. This put local massage therapists in a unique position of uncertainty and fear, having gone from a steady, reliable stream of income to potentially permanent layoffs.
Little did we know with what force tourism would come back!
Who is Visiting Resort Spas?
Now, people from around the world are eager to get back to vacationing, and they are excited to explore self-care options, more than ever before.
This has been an amazing transition from where we were even pre-pandemic, back in 2019. We really are busier than ever. Tourists are flocking here, and the traffic coming into resort spas—spas that offer day-use and massage bookings and are located in hotels or at resorts—has increased dramatically.
People are prioritizing their health, and they want that to include new types of bodywork. Long gone are the days of spas being only for women or reserved for special occasions. Customers’ value of self-care is very obvious, and guests are asking for more than basic (yet valuable) Swedish massage.
We are fielding requests for treatments including energy work, crystal healing, chakra balancing and sound and light therapies. There is increased interest in CBD-infused treatments and post-care programs guests can do when they return home. More uncommon techniques, such as structural work and fascial specialties, are often requested.
If you sampled a day in the life of a massage therapist a few years ago, you would see an average of four to six hours of hands-on massage. Fast forward to recent months, and now the average is around seven to nine hours of hands-on work in an eight- to 10-hour workday.
This is quite the shift for a commission-based industry, one that certainly increases income. This amount of work is quite strenuous on a therapist’s body over time, so it takes a keen sense of self-care, listening to our own bodies, and great body mechanics to withstand the demands placed on a resort spa massage therapist.
We also expect a high standard of customer service, as we are rooted in the hospitality industry. Massage therapists are expected to maintain a professional appearance and wear a uniform—but most resorts and high-end spas will do the cleaning and pressing of the uniform for you.
The Six-Figure Massage Income
If I sound like I love this market, it is because I do. I have never felt so fulfilled in my career.
There are a few things I need in order to feel like I’m thriving and staying motivated, and one of those things is financial stability. It is common for massage therapists who work at high-end resort spas to earn a six-figure annual income. In fact, it has been increasingly common since tourism returned.
A massage therapy position here can be whatever you make of it. Do you want to supplement your income? We have seasonal positions for poolside massage. We also have chair massage on the casino floors. Do you want to dedicate your career to massage in a resort spa? We have year-round positions for that too.
Something else that keeps me motivated—and that I’m sure virtually all massage therapists can relate to—is the need to help people. I do not just want to just manipulate guests’ muscles and give them relief for a moment in time; I want to connect with them, hear their story, support their healing, and guide them on their self-care journeys.
I want to help people, and I want to touch as many people as I can. That is something to love about being in this market: Although we get return clientele from time to time, the majority of clients are first-time guests or they are on their annual holiday to Vegas. This allows massage therapists to experience so many different varieties of needs, as each guest comes in with their own combination of expectations.
Almost every guest is here to celebrate something, and we get to be a part of their celebration and contribute to a positive memory of their time in Las Vegas. How great is that?
Gaining knowledge and earning continuing education credits is other perks of working in a resort spa. The Las Vegas market, for example, has such a vast set of talented massage therapists, and it has been my honor to learn from hundreds of them over the years. Several years ago, I pursued my National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork Approved CE Provider accreditation, knowing I wanted to be able to share the knowledge I have while providing free CE to my teams.
I see an increasing number of therapists pursuing such accreditations, which creates an environment where we can learn from each other while fulfilling the CE requirements for our licenses for free.
This is just another benefit of having so many talented massage therapists surrounding you at a high-volume resort spa. There’s so much ongoing training that goes into making these gigantic spas operate that it creates a space for continual self-improvement.
Who is Getting Hired?
An interesting transition I have seen is the type of therapists joining our massive teams now. It was common to post a position for massage in a resort spa and have numerous applicants in years past, as these positions were hard to come by. You had to have some serious experience and a great résumé to even get an interview.
Today, a position gets posted and there are far fewer applicants. The market just does not have enough massage therapists to meet demand. I personally have become more open to bringing in less-experienced therapists. We even work with local schools to recruit new talent.
It has proven to be advantageous to teach luxury spa standards from the start. There is value in everyone, as we are all people trying to work with our clients in the best way we can.
You do not need to have a lot of experience for that fire to be there. I do wish more massage therapists would recognize that what they have to offer has value, even if they just got into the field. As the saying goes, you will miss 100% of the shots you do not take.
Resort Spa Takeaways
• Many MTs earn a six-figure income
• You will work in an elegant, high-end venue
• You will wear a uniform
• Most employers provide free meals
• Clients are often celebrating a special occasion
• You won’t see repeat clientele
• You will get to work on all types of human beings
• Resort spas are located throughout the U.S., not just Las Vegas
• There are many opportunities to learn new techniques and trade sessions with colleagues
This is Within Reach
I hope I have given you some inspiration and insight to pursue your career goals, because nothing is out of reach.
I have covered how fulfilling it is to be financially stable while surrounded by talented bodyworkers, and how great it is to be part of a fantastic guest experience.
On the flip side, there is much demanded of employees on a busy day in a spa that can stretch over 50,000 square feet—which is about half the area of a Manhattan city block. Some days when you give it your all, you finish the day feeling spent. However, you regroup, and you know it was so worth it.
We make a lot of people feel better every day, and that is about the coolest thing you could have ever dreamed of for a career. Massage therapists are in the business of health care and happiness. If you think this type of venue is a good fit for you, then update you résumé and start researching locations, because the time is perfect, right now, to land a job at a resort spa.
About the Author
Kimberly Magill has been a massage therapist for 20 years. The majority of those years have been in Las Vegas, Nevada. She is an NCBTMB Approved CE Provider and has been a lead massage therapist for several major resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. She loves fostering her teams’ talents and exploring innovative treatments every day. Send her an email (kimberly.magillAP@gmail.com) if you would like more information about interviewing for a job at a high-end, high-volume resort or spa.