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SoakingPot Creates Haven in North Conway

Published Tuesday Nov 5, 2019

Author Matthew J. Mowry

Tucked within one of North Conway’s shopping centers, The SoakingPot Infusion Spa is part of a growing trend in foot soaking treatments and massages.

Clients fresh off a shopping excursion or a cold day on the slopes can relax in plush chairs, enjoy one of a dozen types of tea along with a sweet or savory treat from a local vendor and slip their feet into a large copper, water-filled pot infused with essential oils, herbs and salts. Owner Laurie Banks says the dozen or so treatments she offers are based on a person’s emotional and physical needs from calming to invigorating to soothing to balancing. Banks says she and her staff ask how customers are feeling before helping them select a treatment.

A long-time fan of spa treatments, Banks came across a similar business while visiting Portland, Maine and fell in love with the concept. She says she has an affinity for nature, having attended an agricultural high school in Massachusetts, studying horticulture, and earning a degree in landscape design from UMass. She then spent a decade working for golf courses, landscape architects and a consulting firm before switching to the tech sector.

When she was no longer fulfilled by her tech job, she found herself being drawn back to working with plants. “I wanted to get back to my roots, which is roots,” she says. “I spent a lot of time managing my own stress and anxiety in the corporate world. I joke that instead of going to a spa, I decided to open my own.” And part of what she does as the business owner is developing treatments. “It’s like a tea for your body,” she says of the soaks, filled with herbs, flowers and other natural ingredients, such as lavender, coconut, peppermint and Red Hawaiian sea salt.

Soaks last for 30 to 60 minutes and cost $25 to $35. The spa also offers a group package of $55 per person that includes a one-hour soak, bottomless tea and a selection of sweet and savory treats.

Owner Laurie Banks. Photo by Matthew J. Mowry.

Banks says people like the social aspect of the foot soaks. “People go to the spa together but get separate treatments. This brings you together to relax,” she says. Customers can come in with a dozen friends and enjoy a social experience or come in to find solitude. “We don’t give ourselves permission to just be and sit with ourselves,” she says.

For $38 more, guests can receive  a lower leg and foot massage, lower arm and hand massage or head, neck and shoulder massage. Banks says the price range makes the spa accessible to a greater swath of people. She holds events during the week to draw locals, including a comedy night, psychics and a music series.

The SoakingPot, which Banks funded with her boyfriend, John Andrewski, has taken off. The spa was named best spa in the valley by the Conway Daily Sun and has doubled its business in year two. Banks recently hired a manager so she can work more on growing the business and possibly look at franchising. “I want to go big,” she says, noting she’s eyeing Portsmouth as a possible next location. “We’re approached weekly by people who want to franchise.”

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