Clients left holding worthless gift cards when The Spa at Canyon Oaks closed abruptly during the weekend are getting a helping hand and a promise of massages, facials and manicures from several local spas and salons responding to the news.
For years, The Spa at Canyon Oaks, 126 Canyon Oaks Drive in Crawford, attracted visitors who wanted to live in the lap of luxury for a few hours or a day or more. It offered luxurious massages and styling, first-class accommodations and even walking trails, animals and cottages for overnight stays.
But a telephone recording says the establishment “has permanently closed until further notice,” and a note on its website says the spa “is filing for bankruptcy and is closed for business.” Owner Destiny Williams could not be reached for comment, and a person familiar with the closing said Williams does not yet want to discuss the matter.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Waco had not received a bankruptcy filing by The Spa at Canyon Oaks by late Tuesday afternoon.
Even before the closing, the real estate and spa at 126 Canyon Oaks Drive had been placed on the market and listed with Brad Harrell at Harrell & Associates. The business and property were priced at $1 million, though Harrell’s executive assistant, Anna Collier, said that number likely will fall now that the spa has folded.
The Spa at Canyon Oaks featured a 27-room complex on 31 acres that included a main building; rooms for workshops; a meeting hall; suites for beauty and fitness treatments; a spa suite; cottages for longer visits; and a pool, hot tub and sauna, according to promotional material.
The Tribune-Herald in a 2001 feature story on the spa said it was “bringing European ambience” to the small community of Crawford. It said President George W. Bush had bought a ranch in the area and that Canyon Oaks was going to deliver certificates for use by first lady Laura Bush and the Bush daughters.
Steven Hinton, 35, a massage therapist at The Spa at Canyon Oaks for three years, said the closing came as a shock to all employees, including the dozen massage therapists. Hinton said the staff learned about the property being put up for sale on social media, not from management. He also said gift cards were selling briskly last week.
“At first, we were told that the place would be closed a few days because a well was broken and that someone from outside the state would have to be brought in to fix it,” Hinton said. “That didn’t sound right because there are water wells all over the state, and surely somebody closer could make repairs.”
He said the massage side of the business remained steady and he knows of no specific reason the business would have folded. Hinton said at one time the spa put a couple of medical doctors on the staff to perform laser hair removal and Botox treatments, but they left and management removed their equipment.
Now, The Spa at Canyon Oaks has closed apparently for good, and hundreds of clients who had bought gift cards are seeking relief.
Leslie Engledow, owner of La Bella Salon and Beauty Lounge at Waco and Valley Mills drives, said nearly 500 clients of The Spa at Canyon Oaks contacted her shop after she publicized her intention to honor the cards. She will provide one service per client with a gift card, free of charge.
“They were still taking money, selling cards as late as last week,” Engledow said. “One lady came in here who had bought $1,500 worth of gift cards.”
Cindy Hyland, owner of Massage Envy at Central Texas Marketplace, said she interviewed at least four massage therapists who lost their jobs during the weekend.
“It’s bad when anyone goes out of business for financial reasons, and I’d like to help people find work as quickly as they can,” Hyland said.
Hyland said she is charging those with Canyon Oaks gift cards $39.99 for facials and massages, which is what she charges her members for those services.
Crystal Balderas, a massage therapist at The Spa At Canyon Oaks for eight years, left the company eight months ago to start The Skin and Body Refinery at 4125 Austin Ave. She expressed surprise at the closing, saying it was her impression the spa still was doing well when she departed.
“It was such a beautiful and welcoming atmosphere, with animals and a bed and breakfast for those wanting to spend the night,” Balderas said. “We really pampered the guests. I know I did, and the other girls did, too. I really enjoyed working there, or I would not have stayed for eight years.”
She said her location is honoring gift cards issued by The Spa at Canyon Oaks by providing one service mentioned on each card.
“We would love to honor the full amount, but our staff and personnel will be donating time, so we settled on one,” she said.
Chris Sadler, owner of Facelogic Essential Skin Care in Central Texas Marketplace, said he was caught off-guard by the closing.
“You always hear rumblings, but closing out of the blue is a little surprising,” Sadler said.
He said his business will provide one service to Canyon Oaks customers with gift cards, “and it will be whatever the customer wants to do.”
Facelogic, a small chain based in Waco, offers a variety of spa specialties, including facials, spray tanning and waxing.
Erin Kubala, who owns Pura Vida at 708 Austin Ave., said she is receiving résumés from former Canyon Oaks employees.
“I’ve got a couple in the works,” Kubala said. “We really don’t have vacancies, but I don’t want people to be jobless.”
She is honoring gift certificates and gift cards up to 50 percent of their value, meaning clients will pay half-price for services, she said.
The sudden closing of the spa created significant buzz on Facebook, with many relaying details about their attempts to reach someone at the place of business.