Andrew McGilligan: Telegraph-Journal Published Monday June 1st, 2009

Classy spa joining
East Point family

The interior of Saint John’s Nakai Spa, which will open in the middle of this month, will be similar to Moncton’s location, shown to the left.


SAINT JOHN - The goal of Robert Pejsa and Melanie Lang is a simple one.

“We think Saint John deserves a little more luxury,” Lang said.

The couple and business partners hope to achieve this when they open Nakai Spa in East Point Shopping in mid-June. The spa will be the third for the couple. They began their operation in Moncton in 2006 and expanded in April when they took over the spa at the Westin Hotel in Halifax.

“The one in Moncton was our first and we built it from the ground up, just like we’re doing in Saint John,” Lang said.

Pejsa said they were eager to set up shop in the Port City based on the direction it’s moving.

“It’s a city that’s definitely growing in the right direction,” Pejsa said. “You read all the time about the great things happening in Saint John, from the growth to the people and it’s an exciting city. A place you want to be part of.”

Moving into East Point is also the right fit for the spa, Lang said.

“They’re really trying to do the same thing we are, provide something fashionable and a little more urban for the Saint John market.”

Developer of East Point Shopping Troy Northrup said Nakai fits East Point’s promise of delivering a unique shopping experience.

“It’s unlike any spa in Atlantic Canada,” Northrup said of Nakai. “It’s more like something you’d expect to see in New York or Boston.”

The spa is a family run business and derives its name from the couple’s two children - three-year-old Kaia and nine-month-old Nathan.

“We took the N-A from Nathan and the K-A-I from Kaia for the name Nakai,” Pejsa said.

As for what guests of Nakai can expect when they walk into the 4,200 square foot facility, Lang said hopefully more than they bargained for. The space will feature a water wall and an eight-foot salt water aquarium in its relaxation area among other design features.

“I’ll be upset if we don’t win some design awards for this one,” Lang said.

The space is one of the three P’s Pejsa said the couple bases their business on - people, product and place.

Nakai will exclusively use Aveda products in its spa. Nakai will be the only Aveda Lifestyle Salon in the province and only the second in Atlantic Canada.

“Aveda is 97 to 100 percent natural product which means it doesn’t use any petro chemicals,” Lang said. “No non-renewable resources are used in the production of the products which is really great for our guests and the artists we employ.”

Pejsa said people are much more aware of what they put on and in their bodies and the products used at Nakai reflect that concern.

As for people, training will begin this week for the stylists and estheticians which the couple refers to as artists.

“We do a lot of training and we have people coming in from all over Atlantic Canada to help with our boot camp,” Pejsa said. “We’re gaining a reputation in Atlantic Canada which means we’re attracting some of the top talent which allows us to be choosy in who we hire.”

The couple will give residents a sneak peek of Nakai services, including its chocolate truffle body wrap, hot stone pedicures and Get Stoned massages during a charitable event June 7.

“We’re inviting people to come get complimentary services and they can make a donation with proceeds going to the Saint John Regional Hospital,” Lang said.

“We want to be part of this community and what better way than to give back.”