Zeel At-Home Massage App: We Give the Rubdown Delivery a Try
Photos by Carla Torres
Nowadays it seems you can have anything delivered to you without having to get up from the couch or put any clothes on -- except maybe to answer the door.
Pizza? Check. Arepas stuffed with chicken and avocado salad? Check. Booze? Check. Your own personal Swedish massage therapist? Check.
Taking care of that last one is Zeel Massage on Demand, which promises to deliver a massage therapist to your apartment within the hour of you booking the massage through their handy app that alleviates the need for any kind of in person transaction. Hello, technology.
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We know what you're thinking. Sure, it's slightly weird for a perfectly random stranger to show up at your doorstep with a portable bed and lotion, but hey...it's 2014. Get with the times, people.
New Yorkers certainly seem to have this notion down. That's where Zeel started three years ago thanks to CEO Samer Hamadeh, whose humble business beginnings stem back to selling candy in 7th grade long before his career tool web venture Vault.com. He's now crossing over to the health and wellness space with Zeel, which as of recently has made its way down to South Florida (Miami, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, and Boca Raton), as well as Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.
The breakdown: it's fairly simple, actually. Either go onto the Zeel webpage or download the app and pick your massage date (either today or tomorrow), preferred earliest time and latest time that you wish the massage to be had (their hours go from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.), input your address and credit card info, and voila -- sit back and relax as additional relaxation is en route to you.
A one-hour massage costs $99 plus 18 percent tip, so your grand total comes out to $116.82. Not bad considering what spa treatments in this city go for, but when comparing Zeel to Massage Envy, it's about double the price per massage. Still, with Massage Envy you need to have a membership and drive places, which in this city is no easy feat. Then after said massage and once you're feeling all warm and fuzzy inside you need to put clothes back on to get back into your car and deal with traffic and Miami drivers yet again. With Zeel, all this is immediately taken out of the equation.
After booking your massage, you'll receive a text message asking you whether you have a male or female therapist preference. Feeling adventurous, I chose to leave it in the hands of fate. Shortly after, I got a follow up message telling me my appointment with Cookie Medina was confirmed and to please have two sheets and a pillowcase ready when she arrived.
Cookie's arrival was prompt (15 minutes prior to the scheduled time), which allowed for the casual but necessary small talk leading up to a 60-minute rub down. In that time I found out that Cookie is a stage name (we'll leave her real name out of this), that she's had 14 years of extensive massage therapy experience (nine at The Ritz-Carlton in Coconut Grove and five on her own) and that she's a Cuban conch (her family is from Key West and Cuba). OK, so homegirl is human. Not that weird then having this random stranger setting up shop in the middle of my living room (you need a 6 by 10 foot space for the table).
Weird was when Cookie went to wash her hands in my bathroom prior to getting started and in that time I got undressed in my living room for a woman. Yep -- definitely a first. But it was nice to somewhat have all the control, at least as far as the lighting (curtains down and the room dark), music (Emancipator station on Pandora playing through my speaker), lavender aromatherapy (courtesy of my diffuser), and the thunderstorm happening outside, which mother nature took care of but was a welcome addition to the next hour of bliss.
Cookie did her thing, starting me off face up, which was different than any other massage I've had. If I had to sum up her style, it was a mix of stretching, deep tissue massage and pulse therapy. Zeel massage therapists have their own flair and hand magic. After the massage, you'll be asked to rate your therapist through the app. If you prioritize any specific person, that person will be asked first the next time you book your massage. Should they be booked, only then will they open it up to a general inquiry (after informing you, of course).
Cookie told me how great Zeel has been and the flexibility it gives her to be either as busy as she wants or as freed up as she wants. Same goes for me -- I can either be as tensed up and stressed over things I can't control, or I can pick up my phone and have someone to alleviate the tension in 60 minutes or less thanks to the simple touch of a screen. If only Cookie brought cookies for after massage. That would have been like Nirvana.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha
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