I caught up with former Methow Valley News editor John Hanron recently and learned that the Sacred Rain Healing Center, which John founded, just celebrated its one-year anniversary.
When John was still based in the Methow Valley, he spent weekends commuting to Snohomish to work as a manager and massage therapist at a local spa, and was inspired by the model: a coed, clothing-optional hydrotherapy spa. After about six years of that, John says he “was ready to take the next step, to start my own spa, and it made sense to bring the idea closer to the Seattle community.”
John spent six months writing a business plan and two years seeking funding, and when those pieces began falling into place, he started looking for a venue. “I landed by luck [and Craigslist] on a beautiful property in Ballard,” he says.
The vision for what became the Sacred Rain Healing Center, says John, was “to start with what I knew well — massage therapy and hydrotherapy — build the center as an oasis, and see what other healers I was able to attract.” John discovered that Sacred Rain was appealing to “some really powerful healers in various modalities,” and now he has working with him an East Asian practitioner, a naturopath, and a Native Hawaiian healer who practices Lomi Lomi massage. “They found me,” says John, “and they brought their gifts and helped me create something I couldn’t create by myself.”
John did almost all of the renovations to the property himself, which, he says was both more expensive and more time-consuming than he anticipated. But the results were worth the toil, and John is happy with the buildings themselves and the abundance of plants he has located on the deck and lawn. “I have almost 100 potted plants,” he says, “trees, flowers, ferns and grasses. They need constant care, so I do a lot of gardening.” Being surrounded by natural foliage was really important, John says. “I wanted to bring the Pacific Northwest forest into an urban industrial neighborhood. It makes you feel like you’ve escaped from the rush of the city.”
From carpentry to gardening, to planning, to marketing, to operations, to customer service, to personnel management, “Sacred Rain calls up all the skills I’ve learned in my professional life,” John says, adding that he also does “a lot of laundry.”
Sacred Rain is quite unusual for the Seattle area, and western Washington in general, in that it is both clothing-optional and coed, offering a safe place to be naked outside in the elements and to benefit from healing hot waters. “The Asian spas are naked,” says John, “but they’re segregated by gender.” Sacred Rain’s all-gender approach welcomes men, women and those whose genders are more fluid (although John says the health department requires that bathrooms are marked with “men” or “women”).
I asked John about the naked yoga classes offered by Sacred Rain, but he says he has been so busy he hasn’t had a chance to participate in one of the sessions yet. “It’s a niche market,” he says, “but the instructor has quite a following. It’s our most popular class, and it’s held upstairs in a private yoga space. It’s a way for people to be free.” The front desk staff are strong gatekeepers, says John. “We protect our clients’ privacy.”
Although he has been working 14 hour days, seven days a week, John says that things are getting busy enough that he can hire another manager and massage therapist to free him up a bit to get outside onto the water and into the mountains. “It was a transition, moving away from the Methow,” says John. “Over there, my backyard was wilderness. I could step outside and get lost in it.” In the Seattle area, John says, he has discovered urban parks, and makes an effort to ride his bike as much as possible. “I bike to Golden Gardens Park at least five times a week,” he says, “and watch the waves.” In the Methow, John was a volunteer ski patrol member at the Loup; now he volunteers at Alpental, at Snoqualmie Pass. “It’s a life saver,” he says.”
If you’re interested in visiting Sacred Rain Healing Center, you’ll be happy to learn that John is employing yet another talent from his skill set: sales. “For any full- and part-time Methow Valley residents,” says John, “we’ll give a $10 discounted day pass to the spa.”