Using high-end massage chairs and careful sensory cues, Esqapes is a Los Angeles-based spa that's working to incorporate VR into everyday wellness routines

Day spas are a way to escape the daily routine, but it's easy for them to feel a little lackluster—they're not as immersive or relaxing as a weeklong retreat could be. Now, a startup called Esqapes is disrupting the status quo, providing a VR-powered break from reality.

Esqapes works by fitting visitors with a VR headset and allowing them to choose from 11 virtual locales, like Moroccan Twilight, Desert Spa and Snowbank Cabin. Each offers a slightly heightened version of reality, like a mini vacation in place of a much more expensive—or even physically impossible—retreat.

Esqapes

Seated inside a high-end massage chair, participants then sit back and let their minds relax. As they look around, subtle cues like heating, wind and scents transport them to their virtual location, making for a completely immersive 30-minute experience. And at $45 per session, the service is intended to be affordable for a wide audience.

“We have environments ranging from a tropical resort to a cabin set in the woods, where it's snowing outside,” says Micah Jackson, creator of Esqapes. “It's been very cool to see that customers just blown away by VR, and our environments, in particular, are very photo-real. It's been most people's first foray into VR.”

Esqapes

Esqapes is located in an office park by design—the experience is set up to be accessible to people who work nearby, the ones who likely need a little break. But the true potential of Esqapes is much larger. Beyond potentially licensing his system, Jackson is also hopeful that it could be used within companies, at hotels and even as part of relaxation centers in hospitals.

“I see VR finally transitioning into something where it's not just interactive—it's not just games and shooting zombies,” Jackson says. “There's nothing expected of you other than to just look around and be at peace and be in this wonderful environment. VR can be used for things that are completely passive. There are huge applications for it for wellness, and that's something that we're targeting.”

Creator Micah Jackson. Esqapes

Esqapes


Lead image: Esqapes

Day spas are a way to escape the daily routine, but it's easy for them to feel a little lackluster—they're not as immersive or relaxing as a weeklong retreat could be. Now, a startup called Esqapes is disrupting the status quo, providing a VR-powered break from reality.

Esqapes works by fitting visitors with a VR headset and allowing them to choose from 11 virtual locales, like Moroccan Twilight, Desert Spa and Snowbank Cabin. Each offers a slightly heightened version of reality, like a mini vacation in place of a much more expensive—or even physically impossible—retreat.