By Joseph T. O’Connor ExploreBigSky.com Editor

BIG SKY – Jacquie Rager moved from Sydney, Australia to Big Sky in December 1999, but she’s remained true to her roots. She still has her Aussie accent and humor, and has integrated themes from her mother country into OZssage Therapeutic Massage and Day Spa, which she opened in 2003.

In February 2009, OZssage moved into the Big Sky Health and Fitness building in the Meadow Village. An Australian gum tree photo printed on canvas hangs in the foyer; dried grasses and Aboriginal musical instruments adorn the Australia room and a kangaroo on skis brands the spa.

“Before I moved to Big Sky, I taught skiing in Australia, Austria and Canada,” says the accomplished masseuse, acupuncturist and wellness guru. “That’s how I got into massage.”

The spa, originally comprised of a steam room and four unique treatment rooms, has been successful, Rager says – she now has 10 employees and treats an average of 70 clients during a busy week. A recent addition to the establishment has boosted business again.

On Dec. 24, OZssage finished construction on the new 1,200-square-foot Serenity Suite, a Japanese-inspired open room located just off the foyer. The next day, Christmas, the addition saw 15 massages.

Open the door and a rock walkway leads into a hardwood floor space complete with a Zen sand garden, soothing Asian melodies in the background. Here, you’ll trade your street clothes for a traditional wrap and slippers. It’s a metaphor for exiting the outside world, Rager says.

“[The idea is to] physically and mentally put a robe on,” she said. “It’s a total escape.”

Treatments in the Serenity Suite range from an array of massages and foot scrubs to an infrared sauna and the latest in facial skincare, the Australian-made Intraceuticals.

Rager’s new Intraceuticals machine infuses moisture, antioxidants and vitamins into the skin – the treatment has been made popular by models and celebs, notably Madonna and Justin Timberlake.

Erica Jennings, owner of Sisson Designs in Big Sky, was gifted a complete spa treatment from her husband on Valentine’s Day. The surprise present sold her on Intraceuticals.

“The facial treatment was the best part [of a] wonderfully relaxing evening,” Jennings said. “I had no idea [the gift] was coming.”

Intraceuticals moistens skin ravaged by southwest Montana’s dry, windy weather. Not using it would be like running a car without oil, Rager said.

“It’s awesome in Big Sky,” she said, praising the treatment’s instant moisturizing effects. “When you’re taking a trip, you first hit the petrol station and fill up on petrol and oil. People [tend to] do the opposite with their bodies.”

One of the massage treatments offered in the Serenity Suite, teashi, is a blend of Eastern massage techniques that includes Thai and shiatsu. Clients receive this treatment on queen-sized massage tables handmade by local builder Shawn Gale. A masseuse hangs by bars above the tables – also built by Gale – and performs this ancient art with her feet. The wide tables allow the artist to manipulate clients to reach affected muscles.

Rager designed the private and soundproof Serenity Suite as a place for a personalized spa experience that accommodates couples, wedding parties, large ski groups or families. OZssage offers regular yoga classes, which started again Feb. 20 after a brief hiatus, as well as in-home massage options.

“We’ll tailor to a person’s needs,” said Rager, who likes the idea of customizing her clients’ experience. “People present what they want, and I’ll make slight adjustments to fit their time [and] budget.”

Patrons can even bring in wine or Champagne, or enjoy complementary tea and water as they meander through their spa day.

For more information visit ozssage.com or call (406) 995-7575.