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Michael Lau of Awaken Wellness & Rejuvenation Spa
Circa 2007, Dr. Michael Lau decided that his spa/chiropractic clinic, Awaken Wellness & Rejuvenation Spa, was “just ugh.”
“We’re off the beaten path in an un-hip, commercial area on a hill,” Lau says of his Tulsa, Oklahoma, facility. “For a while, I’d known we needed a change and had wanted the whole facility to feel more like a spa than a clinic. But I was always debating going low-budget, just knocking out a few walls—it was tempting to half-way it.”
But when his mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer in the fall of 2007, it prompted Lau to refocus. “After her battle and ultimate passing, I realized life was short. It hit me that it was time to carry our ideal spa vision through and leave a bigger health footprint,” he says. “So I just went for it.”
After crunching numbers and consulting with architects, Lau found he could do “a nice renovation for $50,000, but it wouldn’t have been green.” By then, he was already excited about all the eco-remodeling ideas he’d explored—plus, he’d the space reassessed and learned that going green and overhauling his spa’s worn aesthetic would substantially increase Awaken’s value.
After an expansion (Awaken took over the vacated dentist’s office next door) and a modern, green makeover inspired by conversations with an “amazing architect” client of Lau’s—“I would always pick his brain as I treated him”—Awaken was recast as a holistic oasis, awash in warm colors and natural light, and newly crafted from bamboo, cork and slate. The nine-month-long process wrapped up in the spring of 2008 and cost Lau about $140,000.
“It was an investment,” he says. “We did it during a down economy when green wasn’t even a big trend in conservative Oklahoma yet. But I felt there was a lot of integration between sustainability and spa, and hoped this would raise our visibility.”
Today, Awaken boasts double its original square footage, exposed beams, concrete countertops and a wheatgrass smoothie bar—natural complements for a bodywork-focused facility featuring all organic products.
“The space totally resonates with what we do here,” Lau says. “And as people are gradually taking note of green builders and sustainable businesses, our spa’s piquing a lot of interest.”—By Katie O'Reilly
Open since: 2000
Facilities: 4 treatment rooms, 5 chiropractic adjustment rooms, room for spinal decompression therapy table, X-ray room, physical therapy rehab suite, lounge with smoothie bar, reception area, staff office/lounge, restrooms
No. of employees: 4 massage therapists, 1 esthetician, 3 full-time chiropractic technicians, 2 receptionists
Product lines: Pevonia Botanica, Dr. Renaud Skincare
Most popular offerings: Deep-tissue massage (60 min./$65) and spa membership ($49.50/month includes a monthly massage and discounts on other services)