Creating A Beautiful Sanctuary Unlike Anything The Heber Valley Has Ever Seen.
When Crystal Joy was young, really young, she discovered she loved giving people massages. By the age of six, she was already heading down the path that would lead to where she is today — the grand opening of Heber City’s Mountain Elite Massage Sanctuary.
“I actually started liking massage at like five or six years old. I worked on hands and feet, and I wanted to hang out with adults,” she remembers.
Then, at about age 11, her aunt introduced her to a chiropractor because of her “strong hands.” Crystal thought she might help with some paperwork, but the chiropractor had other ideas. He immediately put her to work setting hot packs on people. Crystal took this task one step further by massaging their hands and feet too!
Growing up in California, with a mother who worked with celebrities, Crystal spent a lot of time around successful people. She’s always known that she wanted to be successful, and worked hard to achieve her goals. “I just instantly gravitated towards more success,” she explained. “[When] you have more success, you can take care of others. And I didn’t have that when I was younger, and I knew I wanted it.” Crystal graduated from high school when she was 16 and soon after left home to make her way in the world.
Her life plan evolved into becoming a physical therapist. Although she followed that dream for about eight years, she didn’t enjoy it. It was all about the insurance, the injuries, and getting paid, she recalled. “So, I dropped out. And I said, ‘Okay, I’m just going to stay with massage.’ So, I did.”
Crystal’s path eventually took her to Aspen, Colorado, where she got a job at the St. Regis Spa as an on-call massage therapist. However, she remembered it being extremely difficult to be at everyone’s beck and call all of the time. When a position opened there for a core therapist, she went right to the top to apply for the job. “I showed them all my referrals and requests. I said ‘I can help your hotel. Let me do this.’ I was a baby! I was only 23. And they didn’t take me seriously.” She kept at it and convinced them to offer her a 3-month trial position. On her first day, she went downstairs, and a group of athletes came in. Her trial had begun. “I was so nervous,” Crystal recalled. “I mean, really nervous, and I just decided to fake it. So, I did!” And, as they say, the rest is history!
Crystal had the opportunity to work with numerous athletes and celebrities while at St. Regis and it didn’t take long for her to develop a name and reputation among them. Today, Crystal has a full client base of around 700 people and she occasionally flies out to California or Florida, just to do a massage for some of her more affluent clients. Crystal may have achieved her goal of becoming successful but she’s not stopping there. Crystal’s drive has always come from her passion to help others; she’s continually looking for ways to lend a hand and alleviate the stress of one’s day.
Although Crystal was still traveling with sports teams, she wanted to put down some roots, and in 2014 Crystal and her husband decided to make the Heber Valley their home. Crystal created a “she shed” in her yard to offer massages in Midway. She put $10,000 into the shed, adding things like a fireplace, a waterfall, an outdoor shower, and a massage area. While she loved it, the city told her too many people were coming, and the location wasn’t zoned properly.
The success of the “she shed” would need to be moved. Crystal found a new home for her business in the Heber bank building. She confidently told the landlord that she would need to expand in 3 years, saying “I’m going to bring people on, and we’re going to create a wellness mecca in your valley.” He was a little doubtful, but Crystal was undeterred.
As predicted, she soon outgrew the space and needed a larger place. “Originally, I wanted a place that would have horses and just all the outdoorsy things, and then I saw this…in the middle of the valley. It was perfect!” she said, referring to the new location at the back of the Old Towne Square building.
Finally, Crystal would be able to create her wellness mecca. Her husband was supportive, though Crystal admits it’s “not really his world.” They started the building process four days before Covid hit. And what was supposed to be a five-month project instead became a 21-month project! But again, Crystal was undeterred. “I don’t give up,” she asserted. “I never give up. I give in so I can be bendable, but I don’t give up. I don’t even know how to do it.”
The 3,100 square-foot Mountain Elite Massage Sanctuary and Wellness center opened September 25, 2021. Created to be a healing sanctuary for the Heber Valley, each room was meticulously planned out by Crystal. “Every room is multipurpose here. We do it on purpose because I didn’t want rooms on top of one another,” she explained. “I don’t like having services where someone feels like they have to hurry and run out because they’re just a number. So, I have 30 minutes [planned] in between each session.” She also has added incredible details throughout, including a rain shower that incorporates the sounds of thunder and lightning!
Services offered include nutrition and epigenetics, meditation, yoga, massage, aesthetics, foot zoning, and Wasatch County’s first salt room. Halotherapy, or salt therapy, is a treatment for respiratory and skin conditions where microscopic salt particles are pumped into the air to improve your breathing. In the future, there will also be a “wet treatment room,” used for exfoliation treatments, body polishes, and mud wraps.
There are many options, but in the sanctuary itself, all of the rooms are dedicated to massage, with five rooms running most of the time. “I can’t do it alone,” Crystal explained. “I’ve been doing this for 27 years now, and I stopped counting at 20,000 massages.” She needed help, and she got it. “All the girls that are working for me are amazing,” Crystal gushed. “I dreamt them up in my head, and now they’re on earth. It’s wild to say, but they are.”
McKenna is the wellness coordinator and is everything Crystal wanted for her front desk. “I liked her energy, and I stole her from a restaurant,” Crystal admitted. She also has several massage therapists, including Erika, who has been with Crystal for over 2½ years. “I don’t think I could’ve been here without her,” she said. And there are many other specialists Crystal is excited about adding to her wellness team.
It has only been a couple of months since the center opened, but Crystal is already seeing the fruits of her labors. She’s even been approached about franchising, although she admits to being very particular about the kind of people she would be willing to involve. “I’d be afraid it would lose the element of what I’ve created here,” she said. “I love the way it connects people!”
Crystal loves creating connections throughout the county with her new Mountain Elite Massage and Sanctuary. “I hope this valley accepts it,” Crystal shared. “I’ve been doing this almost since birth. It’s just innate in me. I love it!”