Jackson County

Spa owner advertising ‘sensual massages’ tells city we’re hands off

A massage spa at this location on U.S. 90 in Ocean Springs has been operating without a state license for years. The city refused to issue a business privilege license and shut it down on Tuesday.
A massage spa at this location on U.S. 90 in Ocean Springs has been operating without a state license for years. The city refused to issue a business privilege license and shut it down on Tuesday. klnelson@sunherald.com

City officials used city licensing requirements to shut down a spa on U.S. 90 on Tuesday after a state agency found the spa was advertising its services in ways that violated state law.

Yvonne Laird, executive director of the Mississippi Board of Massage Therapy, said the Oasis Spa at 1221 Bienville Blvd., which is also U.S. 90, does not have a state license to conduct massages and that the business has been listed for years on numerous websites that are considered unprofessional and unethical.

She said you could still find the spa listed on those sites with a Google search on Tuesday.

One site advertised that the spa offers “sensual massages ... relax and rejuvenate.”

The business has been listed for years on websites that are considered unprofessional and unethical.

Yvonne Laird, executive director Mississippi Board of Massage Therapy

Laird said city officials refused to issue a business privilege license to the spa and it closed.

On Tuesday, the open sign was off and a note on the door directed anyone inquiring about a massage to call a cellphone number.

Mayor Connie Moran told the Sun Herald that when the business changed hands recently, it requested a new privilege license from the city.

That gave Ocean Springs a chance to partner with the state and enforce the state’s findings about the business.

When the new owners applied for a business license with the city, they told city officials they didn’t need a license from the state board because they do not touch their clients, according to city officials. They said that hot tubs and massage chairs don’t require touch.

The state, however, conducted its own investigation. The outcome has been that not only is Oasis Spa closed, but no one will be able to conduct massages at the address for the next five years.

Moran praised the Building Department for the way it handled the case.

The mayor was told the Planning Department will hold information about the state’s ruling on file for future reference — that no massage therapist activities can be at the address until it is up for reconsideration in 2021.

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