Hop in the Spa – America’s First Beer Spa Opens in Sisters, Oregon
The tourist town of Sisters has largely been ignored during the Central Oregon craft beer revolution. Bend has seen 20-plus breweries build a national reputation, Redmond is quietly gaining traction with four (not including Silver Moon’s new production facility), Sunriver has an award winning brewery that just opened a westside Bend pub, and Prineville’s Ochoco went through a beautiful rebrand last year. Meanwhile, Sisters’ Three Creeks, which opened in 2008, has been producing solid beer and just recently started canning and brewing in a new facility. But, when people think Central Oregon beer, Bend and the surrounding areas lay claim to the majority share.
Sally Champa saw that Sisters was as beer-crazy as the rest of them, but didn’t have the foundation to support a true beer town. A massage therapist formerly operating in Bend, most of her massage business revolved around natural healing herbs and practices. One of her clients, a Deschutes Brewing employee, started talking to Champa about the many benefits of hops outside of a brewing capacity—a moisturizer for skin, calming effect on the nerves, and even some anti-bacterial properties. It got Champa thinking about using hops in her practice, which led to a bigger idea:
Oregon’s first beer-centric spa, “Hop in the Spa.”
While using beer ingredients for their non-intoxicant properties isn’t a new idea—beer soaps are appearing around every corner and places like Bend’s Anjou spa offer beer-related treatments—doing the entire experience, head to toes, with a beer focus hasn’t been done before in Oregon.
Customers start with a pint in the lounge area to unwind and get relaxation started before they soak their body in a brew of hops, which are great for dry skin complications; malt, which is a great exfoliator and has vitamin C; and water (sound familiar?), with an additional proprietary mix of other herbs for stress, anxiety, insomnia, sore muscles, and inflammation.
“We actually go downstairs and brew the soaking liquid an hour to an hour and a half before the customer arrives,” said Mike Boyle, Champa’s business consultant. “When you’re down there, it kind of feels like brewing a batch of beer.”
After soaking, customers are massaged by Champa, who has been an Ayurvedic masseuse since 2011. She continues the beer-infused experience by using hop essential oils and other elements in the massage to create a rounded, relaxing experience. After that, it’s more relaxation and, likely, a beer or two.
From start to finish, the treatment lasts about 45 minutes. After opening on February 13, they were sold out by Valentine’s Day.
“The customers looked very clearly relaxed,” Boyle said. “It was great to see our plan at work.”
While the initial spark came from the Deschutes employee who patronized Champa’s massage studio, Boyle realized it could be a reality after traveling to eastern Europe, where similar spas have been operating for decades. His travels for work have taken him through Croatia and the Czech Republic, where he frequently saw examples.
“The only real difference, besides the setting, is that they would have taps right there next to the tub,” Boyle said. “They really love their beer over there.”
Hop in the Spa will work exclusively with Deschutes Brewing not only as the beer provider, but also as their collaborator. A line of bath herbs called “Bath Brews,” sold individually in Deschutes’ 4-ounce taster glasses or four together as a flight, will be sold at the pub and tasting room, as well as online as a Deschutes and Hop in the Spa product.
“It was my client from Deschutes who kind of got the idea turning for me,” Champa said. “So, we moved things forward with them and it’s worked out very well. They’ve been great.”
Champa isn’t looking to stop at the spa, though. While they are still going through considerable renovations to the business location, Champa and Boyle are looking toward the future with vigor. A line of “Hop in the” products are in the works, including:
Hop in the Cup: A hop-infused coffee
Hop in the Bath: A line of beer-inspired bath products (hops and malt in shampoo, for example)
Hop in the Garden: A traditional beer garden, without the German stereotype, in the spa’s backyard
“Sisters doesn’t really have a place yet,” Boyle said. “When people want to go and have an experience, for the most part, they go into Bend. We want to look at this as an opportunity to become that place.”
While the other line of “Hop in the” products are still a couple of months from actually existing, they are trademarked and the process is moving forward quickly. The spa is operational and being refined every day, said Champa, where they are finding their identity as a spa for everybody.
“We aren’t, and I’m trying to think of a better way to say this, but we’re not so ‘fluffy’,” Champa said. “We are more therapeutic and medicinal. We want you to walk away with an experience that doesn’t just last 90 minutes, but an experience that last for the rest of the day, and hopefully the next day.”
Hop in the Spa
371 W. Cascade Ave.
Sisters, OR 97759
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10-6
Sunday, by appt. only