The Best Spa Therapists

Jim Waddington of Hilton Sedona Resort and Spa.

After years of spa treatments, we’ve found it’s not what you know but who you know. Meet six local body and skin wizards who time and again will make you feel like a million bucks.



We’ve come to a conclusion about spas: No matter how good the treatment, it’s the therapist who matters most. That’s why we’ve dedicated this year’s annual Sedona Monthly spa issue to introducing you to six spa therapists who stand out in a town blessed with many talented practitioners. After years of spagoing, we find we return to this group again and again to help us look and feel our best. Three have private practices (advantage: intimacy); three work at local spas (advantage: pampering). Meet Thea Draaisma, who performs out-of-this-world massages and body treatments; Alicia Lyons, who (literally) wrote the book on nail care; Jim Wadding­ton, whose compassion and concern comes through in his massage; Katharine Stewart, Chinese medicine guru; Elke Waehrisch, spa industry expert; and Katherine Doerner, an esthetician who brings out the best in your skin. You’ll have to book your treatment weeks in advance, but we know it’ll be worth the wait.

Thea Draaisma: A Spa for You

Don’t let Thea Draaisma’s petite stature fool you: You’ll be feeling the powerful imprint of her cool, strong fingers for days after your massage. Thea was born in Holland and came to the U.S. when she was 26. She’d visited Sedona in 1990, and in 1996 she recalls waking up three days in a row with an image of the red rocks in her mind. A few weeks later she loaded up her Ford Escort, left New York and her job as a corporate travel agent, and parked for good in Sedona. Her interest in bodywork began in 1978 with a three-day massage course in India. In 1988 she studied reflexology in New York, then enrolled at the Trager Institute where she became a certified Trager practitioner (the Trager Approach involves movement techniques geared toward relaxation, physical mobility, and mental clarity).

Thea was formerly lead massage therapist at Hilton Sedona, working at the resort until September 2006 when she left to open A Spa for You in West Sedona. “I had a lot of ideas I wanted to explore after being [at the Hilton] for seven years,” she says. “I wanted to develop an affordable program for locals.”

A Spa for You doesn’t look ritzy – it’s located in an apartment building – but it’s tranquil inside with pale blue décor, soft abstract art on the walls, and a trickling fountain. Thea also will go to visit clients in their home or hotel room. Signature treatments include the Sedona Experience, which incorporates chakra (the seven main pulse points on the body) balancing and a combination of Trager, Swedish, therapeutic, and connective tissue massage incorporating hot rocks, cool marble stones, and even a 10,000-year-old fossilized mammoth bone. Thea also recently took courses on Kobido, a Japanese facial massage technique.

Soft-spoken Thea says owning her own spa has made her realize how important it is to take care of herself – she gets regular massages too. “It never stops when you own your own spa,” she says, her blue eyes shining. “There has to be a balance, which is what we teach others but we also need to do it ourselves. I want to do it all but I have to remember to take care of myself.”

Sedona Monthly Recommends… the Sedona Experience and Kobido Massage
We were a little leery at first, but the Kobido facial massage is one of the most relaxing spa treatments we’ve ever had. The organic Kobido products smell as wonderful as they feel. The treatment will elevate you to a state somewhere between a catnap and meditation. Coupled with a Sedona Experience massage, it’s so memorable.

Thea Draaisma
A Spa for You

28 Kayenta Ct., Suite #2 in West Sedona
Spa appointments taken seven days a week from 7 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.
Massages, wraps, Ayurvedic treatments, chakra balancing and Kobido Japanese facial massages

Comments are closed.