Spa WELLNESS: The Dragontree

The Dragontree in Portland, Oregon, has wrapped its inclusive arms around a grateful public.

The staff at The Dragontree wants its guests to experience deep peace and true holistic health. Along with traditional offerings of bodywork and skin care, the spa offers acupuncture, ayurvedic healing, herbal counseling and health coaching. Owner Briana Borten was drawn to the power of natural healing after suffering a broken neck due to a car accident. Borten not only discovered the benefits of massage, but she became a massage therapist herself, and went on to study ayurveda. She founded The Dragontree to create a sanctuary for guests to be completely removed from the outside world and escape the stress that she believes degrades the quality of life.

The spa opened in 2003, and in 2010 Borten and staff opened a second location at the Portland Airport to help relax and rejuvenate weary travelers. One of the few ayurvedic specialists in the Portland area, Borten works as a wellness business consultant as well. The spas’ online and retail offerings include private-label formulations such as tinctures for allergies; herbal pain patches; and cleansers, lotions and scrubs based on the carefully selected balancing herbs and oils they contain.

Fostering community is important to Borten, and to that end she created the original spa’s unique Sangha (meaning “like-minded people who join together for mutual enlightenment” in the extinct, Indo-European language Pali) room. In this setting, which is punctuated by deep colors and comfy couches, guests relax together and receive foot, hand and head treatments, sip tea and even order lunch. With use of the sauna and showers priced at $10, and several treatment options under $30, the Sangha room helps Borten reduce any sense of “exclusivity” at her facility.

The Dragontree

Locations: Portland, Oregon; PDX (Portland) International Airport
Founded: 2003 (Portland); 2010 (PDX)
Size: 4,300 square feet (Portland); 1,200 square feet (PDX)
Facility (Portland): 8 treatment rooms; lounge; Sangha community room; men’s and women’s locker rooms; saunas; retail area
Staff: 43 practitioners; 20 support staff (total both locations)
Product lines used and retailed: Epicuren; Imbue; Livia; private label
Signature services: Ayurvedic treatments (variable times and prices); Epicuren Signature Lifting Facial (60 min./$115, 90 min./$165); Fijian massage (60 min./$90; 90 min./$125)
Mission: “At The Dragontree we are committed to peace. We provide a sanctuary from the stress that degrades the quality of our lives. We will assist you on your journey toward balance with rejuvenative therapies, and will be an educational resource for you by offering tools for self-maintenance and healing. Our ultimate intention is to seed our community with centered, peaceful and healthy people."

Treatment Closeup

In November of 2010, The Dragontree began offering a monthly wellness program to encourage clients to “consider The Dragontree as part of their preventive healthcare plan,” Borten says. “We all know that the greatest benefits for clients happen when they get regular treatments.” Program members receive additional perks such as discounts from local businesses, complimentary birthday treatments and gift certificates when they make referrals.

Monthly fees vary with the program chosen. Two examples:
Pathway To Peace: $33 per month
Includes: One head, neck and shoulder, foot, or chair massage; $7 discount on $37 treatments; monthly footbaths for $20
Habits Of Harmony: $81 per month
Includes: One 60-minute massage, facial or acupuncture treatment with the option to upgrade to 90 minutes for an additional $25; additional monthly treatments for $75; unlimited footbaths for $15; 10% off regularly priced services or products

Borten and her team initially put a lot of effort into marketing and publicizing the wellness program. “We had a launch party, sent out dedicated emails and offered staff incentives to sell the program,” she says. “Now we do what we internally call ‘membership drives,’ in which we offer free gifts to new members. We also promote the program in our newsletters every quarter, have our therapists tell clients about it and include reminders in their thank-you notes.” And while the monthly membership has been a good business move, it also supports Borten’s overall vision for the community, which is to make stress relief and health maintenance a priority for everyone.


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