MASSAGE isn’t just about relaxing tired, aching muscles; it’s also about providing emotional healing through physical pampering. This is the philosophy of the massage therapists at Raindrop Spa, the newest kid on the spa block in Manuel Antonio, on the central Pacific coast.“Massage provides a kind of emotional pampering that we miss in our daily lives,” explained spa consultant Liz Galloway, who helped open Raindrop Spa in December.The stress of busy jobs and hectic personal lives may be carried in our necks, backs and shoulders, but it also builds up in our minds, Galloway said.“This needs to be released. Massage provides a way of emotionally reconnecting yourself with your body,” she said.Galloway and the therapists at Raindrop Spa also understand that tired muscles – stressed in physical labor, hiking, surfing or any of the myriad adventure activities offered in the area – also need rehabilitation and treatment, often through deep tissue massage.BEYOND massage, the spa offers a variety of treatments, including Vichy showers, body wraps, facials and manicures. The relaxation offered by Raindrop begins the moment you enter the Asian inspired grounds and building.Doors in each massage room open onto a Japanese garden, with the jungles of Manuel Antonio lying just beyond. The relaxing effect of the massage is enhanced by the beautiful scenery and jungle sounds and smells that seep into every room, making typical relaxing tapes and aromatherapy candles obsolete (though still available).“We want to provide luxury in a natural way,” Galloway said. “It’s not a resort spa, but it’s more than a day spa.”Although not a resort, nearby rental homes are available for a weekend getaway, with Raindrop as the centerpiece and the famed Manuel Antonio National Park offering a nearby distraction. The spa is also available for bridal parties and group sessions.Raindrop has already won over some local clients, who have a variety of spas to choose from in Manuel Antonio; yet, as business grows, Galloway says Raindrop aims to keep the quantity of clients to a minimum, so as to continue providing intimate, one-on-one therapy.FOR clients who can’t select among the tempting variety of massages, Raindrop offers consultations through which therapists explore where healing is needed most and offer insight into the best techniques.Therapists also make follow-up contact, to ensure each client’s needs were met through the treatment, Galloway explained.The spa’s therapists are from all over the world, and must have a formal background and training in massage, and hold a series of certifications.“We also want to know that they will be here for awhile, so they can establish personal connections with the clients, which is important in massage,” Galloway said.Even customers who only visit once feel comfortable right away.“People who have traveled all over the world tell me they really feel at home here, which is hard to create. At some spas, you just feel like the 2 p.m. appointment,” Galloway said.WHILE the Asian influence is evident in the building’s design and surrounding gardens, it is also embodied in some of the massages offered at Raindrop. “We follow the theories of Oriental massage,” Galloway said.This includes the ancient form of bodywork known as ashiatsu massage, in which the therapist balances above the client, using a bar system, and massages with his or her bare feet.Raindrop also offers the unique Vichy shower experience – a type of body wrap in which the client is wrapped in plastic and linen and then lies beneath a light shower, creating hydrated and smooth skin.“The therapist is always there by your side, pampering you,” Galloway said. Regular, stone and reflexology massages are also on the menu, to improve circulation, lower blood pressure and heart rate, detoxify the body and relieve tension and pain.Raindrop Spa also offers yoga retreats and classes, pilates and tai chi workshops. For more information, call 777-2880 or visit www.raindropspa.com.