If you’re flailing at this stage of the Christmas shopping game, I wholeheartedly suggest that you skip directly to the gift certificate option. Some say that the gift certificate is an impersonal cop-out. I am not one of those people. Particularly when the gift certificate is for a spa.
I have been very fortunate to have been given a few spa gift certificates in the past. Let me tell you, I’ve cherished them. They generally come with a spa ‘menu’ outlining all of the treatments available, and I will carry that menu with me everywhere until the time is right. I pull it out at cold bus stops, grocery store line-ups, and (shhh) even in slow-moving business meetings. And every time I pull it out to daydream over the treatment I will eventually spend my gift certificate on, I send out a quiet little ‘thank you’ to the person who made the choice to grant me this little reprieve. And if you think a trip to the spa may seem a tad too extravagant, the gift card takes all the guilt out of it indulgence. Go for it. Who doesn’t love going to the spa?
Here are my spa picks, all of which are offering great Christmas packages or gift card deals as we speak. Hopefully they land close to your neighbourhood or right in the middle of it.
Flaming June, located on Commercial Drive, is earthily low key and a good ambassador for the Drive vibe. This season they’re offering a 2.5 hour “Holiday Spoiler” package ($135) that includes a 30 minute Swedish relaxation massage, a face treatment (European style facial using Dermalogica products), and a choice of either a paraffin manicure or pedicure. Gift Cards are also available, and for every $100 that you purchase you receive an additional $20 at no extra charge. Every purchase of a ‘December Special’ will get you into the Flaming June holiday contest (A Pampering for Two Spa Package, and a Gift Basket full of Spa Products). The draw takes place just after Christmas.
Located in the heart of Kits (Fourth and Yew), Spa Ethos is a fantastic place to hold a gift card to, and to make things more attractive for gift buyers this season, they’re doing a “Buy four gift cards get one free” deal. And, since parking in Kitsilano can be a major headache in the best of times, let alone in the last stretch of the holiday season – to make it easier for you to nip in and pick up a gift card (or product), the spa has reserved 3 parking stalls in the rear lane for “5-minute gift card pick-up”. GC’s are also available online, but you should get outside and experience 4th in the snow.
Also in Kits (down on 1st between Burrard and Cypress), Bloom Essentials is a great place to send someone you love. Their motto is: We’re just a little more fun. And they are. They’re sincerely passionate about what they do and the minute you walk through the door, you know it. No frilly bits, no pretense, no pressure – just great services at fair prices: 45 minute massage is just $50, And a 75 minute aromatherapy facial is $75 (they also have their own line of skin care products that would be perfect under any tree). Gift certificates are available in denominations of $25 up to $200. Score them online.
Mmmm…Skoah. This Yaletown spa doesn’t just offer facials, they also have a unique product line that includes everything from serums and masks to shampoo and lip gloss (though the facials are awesome: from the ‘facialisicous’ to the ‘quickie’ there is something in your price range that will thrill that special someone). Check out Skoah’s holiday inspired gift packs…tons to choose from. If taking half an hour to find a parking spot in Yaletown just to do the 5 minute ‘dash in – dash out with a gift card” transaction feels like it would be too taxing: order online and Skoah will send it out for you. Do it by midnight on the 18th and they will even cover the cost (on orders over $200). Skoah also offers E-certificates that you can buy online and have delivered to your inbox in a matter of minutes. Yay convenience.
There is an Absolute Spa in the Vancouver Hotel and another at the Century Plaza a few blocks south. A 45 minute massage at either comes in at $85, but at the Century that comes with full use of the sauna and steam room as well as a post-treatment snack in the lounge. Bonus: Right now every gift card purchased over $50 automatically enters you to win their ‘Grand Holiday Prize’ (valued at $3500). Visit the Absolute Spa web site for details. When you do, keep in mind that they are in the spa business, not the web design business (their site seems to be where .pdf files go to breed). Though the site may be confused, I can assure you the spa staff are not. These people have the spa trade dialed in. Gift cards can be purchased and redeemed at any of the 10 Absolute Spa locations.
When you buy four gift cards any day before December 23rd, Som Visao will give you a 5th of equal value totally free. The nice thing about these gift certificates is that they come in denominations of $25, $50 or $100. Redeeming GC’s at Som Visao is fun – they have daily specials including Temptatious Tuesdays (that’s 20% off Brazilian waxing – though I think Tidy Tuesday’s would be a much cooler name ); Wrapaholic Wednesdays (20% off all body wraps); and Facial Fridays (20% off all facials). $79 will get you a Body Glow (45min) massage that incorporates the gentle application of seaweed particles that will leave your skin “invigorated, velvety smooth, and oxygenated”. Sounds good.
photo courtesy of Skoah (Yaletown location)