SPA TRENDS: Bobbing Along at The Float Shoppe in Portland, Oregon

This unique wellness oasis gives urbanites an unexpected shut-down valve from the stressors of city life, via flotation therapy.

The Float Shoppe

When it comes to Portland’s trendiest shopping district, Northwest 23rd Avenue, an oasis isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Yet clients flock to the busy area to experience The Float Shoppe (floatshoppe.com) where, within this restored 1904 Victorian home, they stretch out in one of three flotation tanks and hit the pause button on the sound and bustle of the city streets below.

Co-owners Sandra Calm and Dylan Schmidt opened the spa in 2011 after they discovered the power of the float—Sandra to ease her back pain from a nursing job, and Dylan to reduce muscle soreness from mixed martial arts practice. At first, most of their clients were fibromyalgia sufferers who would find their pains ease for days after just one 90-minute float, but the spa's base has since expanded. The shop uses weekly advertising in local alternatives and social media to draw attention to its services.

“Now we get athletes who want to recover faster from their workouts, and moms and daughters having a spa day,” Schmidt says. “It’s incredible how appealing the float is to so many demographics.”

The shop offers two enclosed floatation chambers—one offering a total sensory deprivation experience, and one open-air tank for those who prefer more space. Over the months, Calm and Schmidt have expanded their wellness offerings to include deep-tissue and Swedish massage, acupuncture and, more recently, hypnosis."When combined with a float beforehand, the relaxation and health benefits of each treatment are intensified," Schmidt explains.

Wellness packages at The Float Shoppe are top sellers—especially the massage-plus-float experiences. But Schmidt has also been impressed by the sales mileage of The Spacewalk package: a 90-minute float, 90-minute massage and acupuncture session for $185. Monthly float packages, which offer deals from one per month for $51, to up to eight floats a month for $246, also keep the client base drifting back for more.


The Float Shoppe

Opened: December 2011
Size: 2,000 square feet
Facility: 6 treatment rooms, 2 flotation chambers
Staff: 9
Signature services: Floats (90 min./$60), massage (60 min./$70—can combine with floats), acupuncture (variable times and prices), hypnotherapy
Mission: "To provide pause to the people of Portland"

Treatment Closeup

Massage and Float
(150-180 min./$115-$135)
In a dimly lit room, the client eases into a warm flotation tank holding no more than a foot of hyper-salinated water. The goal for the guest is to drift into a theta wave-based state of relaxation, as muscle pain and toxins are released. As the float comes to an end, floaters are gently roused by soft music piped into the room. A warm shower rinses away any salt residue. After the float, the client chooses between a 60- and a 90-minute aromatherapy massage using essential oils and Swedish or deep-tissue techniques.

“Adding massage to the float means that the client’s muscles are already loose and relaxed, allowing the massage therapist to work immediately on trouble spots and go very deep, rather than have to use the first portion of the massage just to relax the client,” says co-owner Dylan Schmidt. “Couple that with the fact that the flotation has removed the client’s sense of touch for 90 minutes, and a massage therapist’s hands are like magic working on the body.”