At the age of 18, Lily Gabriel already had a vision of having her own spa, and by the time she was 19 she had a business plan written.

Then she started to contact investors. An investor replied, and Gabriel's dream became a reality.

"I was shocked at how quickly we moved forward," she said. "I was shocked somebody believed in me that much."

Now 21, Gabriel has moved her growing business, Natural Way Wellness Spa, to a 4,800-square-foot-building at 526 N. Fourth Ave.

The spa was open for less than a year at its previous location, at 329 E. Seventh St., but "the building was hurting us more than helping us," Gabriel said.

The new location on the popular North Fourth merchants' strip is in the "heart and soul" of Tucson, she said.

"It's a perfect fit," said Kurt Tallis, marketing director of the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association. "It's a nice service to have on the avenue, to keep us well-rounded."

The other two day spas on the avenue, Elements and Balance, are more like beauty spas, whereas Natural Way is more of a massage spa, said Tallis.

Natural Way offers massage, facials, body treatments, aromatherapy and waxing services.

The new location also features a yoga studio, where it hosts a variety of small classes.

The spa's customers are welcomed into a large, open lobby and offered water or warm tea, along with a warm towel for their hands.

The walls are a pale green and adorned with local artwork. The hallway is shaped like a leaf stem.

Gabriel said she wants her customers to feel as comfortable as they would at her home, and she welcomes them to stay as long as they wish after treatments. They are invited to hang out in the meditation lounge or lobby to relax and unwind.

She is planning to offer a spa happy hour on Friday nights, where clients can come in for food and discounted mini-services from 6 to 8 p.m.

Part of Gabriel's plan was to launch her own line of skin- and hair-care products.

She did that in January.

She does the research, and through "a lot of trial and error" and conferring with manufacturers, she comes up with a natural and organic formula that the spa employees bottle themselves, she said.

The spa currently releases a new product about once a month.

The plan for now is to "be comfortably solid" in the business, expand the product line and possibly start franchising, Gabriel said.

"A lot of days, I wake up and I'm amazed this happened."

"I was shocked at how quickly we moved forward. I was shocked somebody believed in me that much."

Lily Gabriel, owner of Natural Way Wellness

If You Go

• What: Natural Way Wellness Spa

• Where: 526 N. Fourth Ave.

• Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

• Contact:, 882-8828.

Contact reporter Angela Pittenger at or 573-4137.