Written by Michael Effler and Christine Castigliano
International Design Concepts
Moyo is a Swahili word meaning Heart, Life, Spirit. The newest spa in Calgary, Moyo Spa and Wellness offers a warm, unique African influence.
The village of Lukobe in Tanzania is a second home for Moyo’s founder, Dawn Schaller.
A Registered Massage Therapist, Ms. Schaller was drawn to Africa in her early 20s to do voluntary service work, to make a positive impact on the community. Although she found the continent of Africa indeed crying for help, the villages of Tanzania also offered her a gateway to paradise, an experience far from our technology-driven society.
These parts of Africa remain relatively untouched by the outside world. With no concrete jungle, sounds of the hustle and bustle of trafic were replaced by birdsong.
“The place and the people of Tanzania touch my heart in so many ways,” she said. “Despite poverty, drought and lack of the basics, it’s a peaceful culture of deep generosity and the feeling of family.”
“Sitting in the shade among the Acacia trees, relaxing into a sense of wellness, with a generous caring spirit, that is the feeling I want to recreate with Moyo.”
The Journey to Moyo
Specializing in sports injuries, Ms. Schaller worked in a doctors’ office in Victoria for several years, and at RnR Wellness in the Fairmount Hotel in Calgary. It was time to develop her own spa.
“Moyo Spa created the possibility of bridging two of my passions: first, to help people, by facilitating healing through massage therapy, and to support grass root initiatives in Tanzania and around the world.”
Ms. Schaller chose International Design Concepts (IDC) as her design team. She visited the Felice Aveda Salon and Spa that IDC created in Vancouver, and was impressed by the facility: the lighting, warm feel, and inventive use of colour and shape.
She also felt a kinship, an intuitive understanding, with Michael E er, principal of IDC.
“When he showed me the design featuring an Acacia tree, I knew it would feel like home.”
The ancient Acacia represents renewal, endurance and pureness. Moyo guests experience all these qualities.
Ms. Schaller asked IDC to review a potential space before signing a lease, but E er determined that location wasn’t a good match for a center of wellness.
The chosen site is 2500 sq. ft., with a double door entry
excellent street exposure as well as lovely natural light for visual merchandising. Three sides o er space for signage, so Moyo’s presence can stand out in the marketplace.
Clients enter an inviting reception area with a striking display of merchandise. Moyo features premium organic skin care products from Derme & Company’s Nelly de Vuyst, who provided excellent educational support, makeup by Jane Iredale as well as the Barefoot Venus botanical bath and body care line from British Columbia.
Working in synergy with Ms. Schaller, IDC developed a rich theme that is embodied throughout the spa. Design elements reflect the tone and texture of the and great curb appeal. The large store frontage provides African plains: recycled materials, stone floors representing the sand colours, zebra print fabrics. Visual merchandising includes handmade items from Tanzania. Niches in the walls provide eye-catching spaces that change with the seasons, and display the earthy cultural influence of Africa.
The full design vision includes a metal tree arching over the hallway to match Moyo’s logo, subtle African music with birdsong, and even scent. The intention is to create a feeling of excitement and warmth, especially in the dark, chilly Calgary winters.
“Moyo is a place with a warm sense of calmness. A place where time stops at the door… an inspiring ambience.”
Services and Features
Ms. Schaller’s expertise with sports and rehabilitative massage enables her to work with several sport teams as well as amateur and professional athletes. Moyo has five multi-purpose treatment rooms, including an ADA accessible room with bath, and areas for both men and women.
A highlight of the spa is the couples’ suite, warmed by a stone fireplace. The dual suite boasts a Razul steam bath shower combination, with heat lamps for mud treatments.
A second steam shower offers a combination monsoon and handheld shower heads, a makeup bar and hair drying area. There’s a locker room and break area for staff as well.
Spa treatments include mani-pedi, skin treatments, facials, waxing, and makeup artistry in a niche with natural lighting.
Supporting wellness in many ways
Moyo offers a range of therapeutic massage options provided by Registered Massage Therapists. “We use a technique we call ‘touch with intent.’ Combining science and art, we focus on the relationship between caring and healing.” All assure tension release, circulation enhancement and overall wellness.
Moyo also features pre-natal massage to minimize stress, promote relaxation and help with low back pain, offered by certified therapists with special training. The service menu includes reflexology and hot stone massage as well.
Signature services include Mineral Salt Glow with body polish, scrub and Razul with body butter, a detoxifying Enzymatic Sea Mud Wrap, and Dry Brush Exfoliation.
Upcoming offerings include Pilates, infrared sauna, acupuncture and Thai massage.
The relaxation room has a soothing water feature. Even Moyo’s lighting is flexible to create a calming ambience. Ceiling lights feature chromatherapy, changing colours that can be a subtle influence on chakra alignment and healing treatments. In all, Moyo creates an “experience of balance between inner and outer beauty, contentment and wellness.”