Marie Ruiz, who was born and raised in Bordentown, recently opened a Hand and Stone Spa location in the Acme Commons shopping center. (Staff photo by Samantha Sciarrotta.)

Marie Ruiz and her husband, Irian, knew they wanted to manage a spa, and when space opened up in her hometown, she knew they had to take it.

Ruiz, a Bordentown native, recently opened up a Hand and Stone Spa at the Acme Commons Shopping Center on Dunns Mill Road.

“When we decided a couple of years ago that we were going to pursue it, we were looking at locations,” Ruiz said. “[Corporate] knew I was from Bordentown, and they said, ‘We actually have a location in Bordentown.’ It was just a perfect fit. My parents still live here, my sisters are still in town, so my heart has always been with this town.”

Ruiz, her husband (a UPS pilot), and their two daughters currently live in Hainesport.

Ruiz says it’s always been a dream of hers to open a spa, and when she finally decided to do it, she thought a lot about whether she wanted to start her own “mom and pop” spa or get into a franchise. She had previous experience with Hand and Stone, though, and was comfortable with the franchise.

“I did have the opportunity to work at one and manage one for four years that gave me the upper hand to say, yes, this is a company I want to invest my time and money in,” she said. “They are so supportive.”

Ruiz has been in the spa industry for 24 years. She previously spent several years with a law firm but left to raise her daughters. She still wanted to work, though, so she decided to put her cosmetology license to use.

“I had a girlfriend who was opening up a tanning salon in Bordentown, and she was getting ready to open a nail salon in the back, and she asked if I could help her out,” Ruiz said. “It was super successful. When I saw the trends changing with the nail salon, I decided to go and pursue a little bit more with skincare. I did skincare for about eight years under a dermatologist, and I learned the whole medical end of it.”

Ruiz met the dermatologist when she went for a medical visit. The doctor mentioned that she wanted to introduce facials and waxing to the practice, but she needed some help, and Ruiz assisted. After that, she helped open two spas in Virtua hospitals, working in both the managerial and treatment departments.

For the last five years, Ruiz has worked in spa management. She says she misses the hands-on aspects of working in treatment, but she is confident in her Hand and Stone staff.

The business offers massages, facials and hair removal. It specializes in Himalayan and hot stone massage, which uses warm river rocks and can loosen tight muscles and stimulate deep relaxation.

“I love making people feel good,” Ruiz said. “Health and wellness has always been a passion of mine. Our daily lives are so stressful to begin with, so we really think it’s important to complement our lives with massage, meditation, exercise, relaxation, because we’re constantly going, going, going. This gets us away for a little bit. It brings us back into the moment. A little me time. I love connecting with people, too.”

Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa, 274 Dunns Mill Road, Bordentown. Hours: Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Phone: (609) 288-2131. handandstonebordentown.com.