VieAMaggi.com

Real, raw, & relatable me. Enthusiastic food & lifestyle blogger living in Vancouver, BC!

Category: spa Page 1 of 2

Scandinave Spa Bubble Bath, Cornucopia 2019

This weekend my girl friend and I were in Whistler, here to celebrate her birthday, as well as attend “Cornucopia” for the very first time. “Cornucopia” is Whistler’s fall food and drink festival. Combining the two made the weekend all the more fun, and topping it with a spa experience at Scandinave spa was the cherry on top.

“Scandinave Spa” was hosting a “Bubble bath”, and we couldn’t turn down the opportunity to be drinking bubbles when being surrounded by them. Although you can’t actually bring your drink to the pools (for safety reasons). However, the ability to visit the infamous spa at night was an experience in itself. But this was a party with guests lounging about the foyer in robes, sipping on unlimited bubbles, snacking on canapés, and bopping along to the jazzy sounds of @lovejennamae singing and playing guitar live.

I know you aren’t supposed to go into the water until 15 minutes after you have eaten, but who can resist this pairing? This it is the stuff goals are made off. The event was a self directed experience, you mixed and mingled either outdoors in the pools or by the fire pits, or indoors at the bar and by the fireplace. There was plenty to do in either arenas, with the ability to socialize. During regular spa sessions there is no talking allowed, tonight guests were more loud and rowdy with the drinks.

The ticket price included access to their exclusive hydrotherapy bath, towels, and robe rentals. At the pools, you are able to carry out your usual spa routine. Following the intermittent hot and cool soaks, plus rest. This is recommend for its traditional Scandinavian healing properties. Here you could gather by the roaring fire pits, swing on one of their hammocks, or get a chill from the stone benches and/or lounge chairs. For something more warmer, there was plenty to lie on indoors, in one of the solariums.

At this temperature and time of day it is easy to identify which are the hot or cold pools. Smokey and mysterious these hot pools was where we flocked to.

Indoors, attendees enjoyed glasses of bubbles from “Haywire Winery”. They were onsite pouring their traditional method sparkling wine, “The Bub” and their “2013 Vintage Bub”. The “Bub” is a bottle fermented and aged using Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. Grapes grown on cool vineyard sites in Oliver and Summerland. The result, a fresh warming wine with a nice crisp green apple finish. And the “Vintage Bub” was crowned the Winner of Cornucopia 2019’s top bubble award. You were able to try both and enjoy as many refills of either as your heart desired, (just done with moderation and the sake of health and self in mind.)

And as you sipped, you were able to sample from a collection of savoury and sweet canapés that travelled the room. The following were prepared by the “Collective Kitchen” catering team. Everything was delicious. It kept us well fed, yet refreshing and light. Perfect for the pressure to look as thin as possible in your bathing suit. That and it all paired well with our two wine options above.

A curry cashew cream with dukkah. “Dukkah” is combination of nuts, seeds, and ground spices. Together with the cream this morsel was like a little chip, already topped with dip.

The shrimp with salsa verde was a group favourite. Served on a skewer and drizzled with zesty and tangy salsa for an extra refreshing flavour profile.

A slice of cucumber is used as a base for mango salsa, jade radish, and sun choke chips. Another bright bite full of textures to chew through.

I liked the crab with mango cucumber salsa on a potato terrine, and its heartier bite with a caramelized finish.

The Kushi oysters with its persimmon minuet were delicious and memorable.

I also enjoyed the bacon and blue cheese biscuit with avaocado cream and heirloom tomato and radish. The distinct flavour of tangy blue cheese coupled with a sweet salty bacon was noteworthy.

But my favourite canapé was the albacore tuna with leeks on a nori, sesame and squid cracker. Absolutely delicious.

And for dessert, a quarter of a lime tart with huckle berry jam and blackberry garnish was passed around. Luscious and creamy, tangy with citrus and dark berries; it made for a great palate refresher.

So here, we took our time, eating and sipping, all while listening to the live musical stylings of acoustic singer, Jennamae Webb. She took pop hits and top 40’s songs and spun them in her own bluesy soulful sound. She even took on our suggestion/request of hip hop songs done in the same fashion.

In short, this was a whole new way to experience the spa. And I would highly anticipate going back again next year, whist recommending it to everyone else, and anyone already a fan of the property. Scandinave at night, retooled as a pj party with adult beverages was a hit!

But for more on Cornucopia, and how you can attend next year’s occasion, visit the link below. https://whistlercornucopia.com/

For the vlog version of this event and the recap of our weekend drinking, check out my latest video, now upon my YouTube Channel: MaggiMei.

Energetic Healing and Alignment

I haven’t been feeling like myself lately. I am at a cross roads in my life. Call it a mid life crisis or growing pains, but I have just been feeling off. A sense of not knowing who I am or what I am meant for. Whereas my whole life I have always felt guided. My instinct and love have always brought me to where I need to be, and the rest has just fallen in to place. Clicking without friction.

Not being able to shake off this unrest, I talked it out with a friend. She suggested I see a medium. I must preface this by saying I am open to everything and anything. There is so much more to the world than that we can see or even understand. So I went into this eagerly and very willing. Doing something is better than nothing, and everything is worth trying. I knew I didn’t feel like me for the first time in my life and even questioned who that I was up to this point. I needed guidance on a level I couldn’t see or explain, there was just something in the pit of me that I knew was there. She referred me to Lazina, a medium, my friend herself seeks out. And considering how balanced and full of love she is, there was nothing to loose with a visit to Lazina myself.

You meet her at her home, which tells you how open and giving she is. Just walking into her studio space I felt energy. A sense of calm and safely fell upon me. Maybe it was the warm glow of dim lights, the fresh air from the open window, the watchful gaze of all her spiritual paintings and accoutrements, or the energy from her collection of gems and stones. Or maybe all the above, and her melodic voice. She was so warm and accepting. She greeted me with one of the best hugs I have ever had; one that didn’t expect or want anything of me, one that just wanted to give me love. And immediately I felt comfortable, I dropped all my walls and skepticism, and fully committed to the experience.

Having never experienced or read anything like this before, she walked me through the process. As a medium she specializes is intuitive energetic healing and alignment. She is able to take in energy and ask for those surrounding and safeguarding her, help in moving it around or out.

The goal, to be able to recognize your own person aura and work towards self cleansing and proper up-keeping of it. Much like you would take a mental health day, or go to a counsellor to work out your issues. Aura is the natural energy field around you that exists in all loving things. Rebalancing it helps to heal past wounds, remove negative energy, and prevent the build up of toxicity.

She began by declaring the safety in the space. Offering a glass of water and showing me a box of tissues nearby (they were the good kind, softer than usual with lotion in each sheet). And necessary, as tears flooded down my cheeks (and believe me, I didn’t want to cry, I just got my lashes done and wasn’t about to ruin that investment so soon). I was ready to release.

I laid on a table in her studio. She made sure I was cozy with blankets, head and knee support. Placing stones in each palm and one on my chest, we began working on our breathing. Breath, a symbol of taking in good energy and intentions, and expelling all negative things that I have been holding on to for far too long.

We then concentrated on opening and cleansing the energy of my 7 chakra points, like a spiritual oil change. 7 points that run along the body and fuels it. They are as follows.

The “root” lives in the base of your spine, and as its name suggests, it helps you feel grounded. It is described as a crimson red light that is associated with your instincts and survival issues like food and financial security.

The “sacral chakra” is described as an orange apricot light that resides in your lower abdomen. It is associated with ours and other’s emotions. My feelings of inadequacy from others live here.

The “solar plexus” is a yellow golden light in your stomach area. It is associated with your self worth. When you get that dark feeling of dread or regret it hits you here. When I feel gutted, this is where that sensation manifests.

The “heart chakra” is both the colour green and pink. The former represents the love you give yourself. And the latter that which you allow to permeate off of you, and latch on to others. Here, I learned that my empathy has allowed me to take in the negativity and sorrow of others. But just like they say during the safety speech before airplane take off: you need to put the oxygen mask on yourself first. You need to take care of yourself before you can help others. Because not being able to leave behind my own negativity while trying to lighten the load of someone else, only caused me to drown more.

The “throat” chakra is a lapis blue, if functioning properly it allows you to expressive yourself truly and clearly.

Indigo represents your “third eye”, it fuels initiation, wisdom, and imagination from your brow. To have it open means to be open to receive. I was happy to be reassured of my strength in this.

And lastly the “crown” on the top of your head is a golden light that makes us a beacon and gateway for spiritual connection.

Aligning them offers grounding and reassurance in oneself, a foundation of my personality that I had recently lost and would find here today.

I can’t begin to articulate the full extent of the experience. But I opened up on years of self doubt, thoughts of what should be and what I ought to have. What I thought my parents and family wanted for me and of me, and what I believed society expected of me. And through our grounding work, I was slowly able to let it all go. A sensation that I felt throughout my body. The moving of my blood, the beating of my heart, the heat radiating from my limbs, and the air escaping my lungs. I felt the release.

I walked away a little shaky, but as the day wore on, I got more confident. With the blockage of energy taken down within me, and the toxins no longer fuming, I was able to take in goodness. I started feeling like myself, light hearted and light in body. I definitely walked away better. But by no means are my problems solved or my emotional wounds healed, we just opened the gate to change, and invited the law of attraction in. The rest is up to me.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write about something so intimate and raw, but with the medium’s encouragement of journaling and seeing what spills out, I read the signs and followed my gut. I can’t guarantee that you will have the same experience as I did. What you put out is often what you get back. I can only recall my own experience and offer my own opinions and observations on the topic, and if anyone finds value in it, all the better.

For those curious, you can find out more on her services at fb.me/lazinamorningstar.
Happy healing.

Scandinave Spa Whistler, with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

As a wonderful treat I got to take the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV for a scenic drive. We would take the sea to sky highway just past Whistler, BC. Our destination: the highly acclaimed Scandinave Spa. A retreat in the middle of wooded BC, a two hour drive worth the commute. The distance has you appreciating the exclusivity of the spa: a secluded spot where you can disconnect and truly relax, as their resort promotes.

But first the drive. Admittedly I don’t engage in as safe driving habits as I should, as I would soon learn behind the wheel of the Outlander PHEV. This clever vehicle teaches you a lesson in driver’s education. A series of beeps sound if you go out of your lane (a probability along the windy roads of the sea to sky), or if you simply forget to switch on your turn signal as you move about from left to right. When the door is left open or ajar the Outlander PHEV sounds, and again if you walk away without securing your vehicle first. Then there are the normal beeps: when seat belts aren’t buckled and when a car passes you closer than you’d like. These are all regular features in a modern car, but you usually don’t get them all in one vehicle, all together. This taught me how poorly I actually drive, so without any intention of doing so, the Outlander PHEV SUV actually improved my driving the week I had it.

As for the ride to the spa, it was an enjoyable one. You drove up roads that swirled like soft serve, you got to put your foot down on the pedal and climb up the mountain, cruising along one of BC’s most scenic drives. And best of all, all in the world’s best selling plug-in hybrid. The Outlander PHEV’s is powered by a 2.0-litre gas engine, two electric motors and a generator. Meaning, the Outlander PHEV can run on an electric motor, and from a full charge it delivers 35 kilometres of electric-only driving. So you are saving money on your every day commute. Using a 220-volt outlet, the Outlander PHEV takes 2.5 hours to fully recharge and using regular 120volt outlet around 8hours.

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV got us to our destination safe. A little under 2 hours, was much more enjoyable spent sitting on heated (for me) and cooling (for my partner) cushy seats, but sadly no satellite radio to toggle to between channel’s as we waited impatiently in traffic jams caused by fender benders, a three vehicle pile up, and street cleaning.

 

Fast forward and we got to our destination just in time for our massage appointment. Originally we were aiming to arrive earlier, to be able to enjoy the amenities before our appointment, which would have helped us to relax a bit more. Sadly the confusion with payment method, the lack of instruction on the processes, and no directions to the locker room would have us tense and rushing. Scurrying to change into our robes, travel to the massage pavilion the next building over, and complete a waiver.

During check in at the main counter we were given a stack of towels and a key. Having been to a spa before I knew what they were used for and was able to read between unspoken lines. However, for my partner who joined me this afternoon, this was a whole new experience. I had to be his guide. You are given a beaded bracelet with a key attached, this unlocks the padlock you are given to secure your belonging in one of the lockers. The locker room is dark, although given the number of staff members I saw walking in and out, helping to organize the space, I’d like the believe it’s cleaned regularly. I rather not closely inspect such places should I see something I can’t un-see.

After dawning one of their terry cloth robes, we travelled to the neighbouring building for our massages. From here we walked across a small bridge to their massage complex. Two floors, each with a waiting room where you fill out a medical history form, then leave it on a counter for the massage therapists to discover and call out your name.

You are able to visit Scandinave, and just enjoy their spa facilities, but honestly given the distance to travel, you might as well get the full experience by including a massage in your treatment. Your treatment is customized between yourself and you massage therapist, the price is based on time allotted.

Given that our $210 massage appointments includes the use of the spa amenities and robes, and that if you only dropped in to use the facilities, robe rentals are $13, I expected a more plushier robe. Something softer against your skin, I would have been happy with my robe being of the same material as my two towels. One of which I left in the locker to use after I cleaned up. And one I took with me as a wrap and seat cover for the saunas.

When time you are greeted by your RMT. You are led into a room where you are told to unclothe as much as want and are comfortable with, then lay on their massage table face down, under a sheet and blanket. The massage we got was 60 minutes long. We both selected a full body massage with medium pressure. There were parts  of the treatment that hurt, but I knew it was worth enduring so held firm as the RMT kneaded my shoulder blades, and hard poked points on my gluteus. But it was the arms and specifically my wrists that I enjoyed the most. This action and this experience were helpful in getting some much needed rest for my wrists and fingers. Necessary given how often I am on my phone, holding it and texting with it, using the same joints and muscles to exhaustion from the repeated motion.

Sadly I was in so much comfortable bliss that I fell asleep 3/4 way through, when I was told to flip onto my back. I was woken when my session wrapped up, feeling rested over all, but sad to have not enjoyed the sensation in its entirety.

After your appointment you are able to roam the complex at your leisure. As the spa has a strict no technology policy, I won’t have many photos of the resort itself. This restriction makes sense. The property is beautiful and I can see many people visiting just for the photo op: taking up space, trying to get the perfect shot out of the 55 taken at each of their 5 pools; thus distracting everyone on site. Similarly, for similar reasons, there is a strict no talking policy. If you have to do it, it should be in whispered tones. This makes visiting with a friend or a group of friends difficult. Honestly if given the opportunity again, I will most definitely be coming alone. This is meant as a retreat to unwind, and there is no better way to do that than by yourself. That way, there is no need to entertain another person or accommodate their wants. You visit the saunas or pools that you want, in the order that you want. More on that later.

I would also strongly suggesting coming early to enjoy the facilities before your appointment to get the most benefits. The spa is built on the practice of heating and cooling your body temperature to intense ends of either spectrum rapidly. This is hydrotherapy, it is an age-old Finnish tradition that dates back thousands of years. It is known as an “effective way of releasing tensions in both the mind and the body” (as taken from their website). “The cycle of hot-cold-relax is proven to both energize and rest the body, improving blood circulation and activating the lymphatic system to help detoxification.”

All the above is only if done so properly, which I was too impatient and listless of a person to do so. You start with 10-15 minutes of heat either in one their dry saunas with wood, wet sauna with eucalyptus oils, or hot tubs. After, you jolt yourself with a dunk or shower in some very cold water. So chilled that you can only stay within for 5-10seconds. Then you allow your body to rest for 15-25 minutes. Doing so in a variety of different settings. There were wooden chairs by a fire pit, stone benches by the pools, cloth hammocks, firm mattress, and reclinable patio chairs. You were able to rest outdoors on this hot summer’s day or seek shade in one of their three solariums, which was outfitted with a fireplace.

The outdoor spa is open through the year with solutions to beat the heat in summer, and ways to stay warm in winter. In fact, having seen photos, I think I would have enjoyed a visit in winter more, when the snow is out and the landscape white with a fine power. Although I think it is easier to go from a hot summer’s day into a heated pool, than from a brisk winter’s chill into an icy bath. So there is value in visiting during either seasons for a different experience.

There is little interaction with the staff, yet there were boxes for comment cards and sealed envelopes for gratuity in every room. By the door in the washrooms and on the front desk counter. You couldn’t miss the hint. Specifically in the massage rooms where at the end of your session, your receipt and a cup of water waited for you by a propped up envelope, reading “thank you for your gratuity” in bold typeface. I don’t mind the practice, but I don’t like how strongly they kept suggesting it.

And lastly, here are some tips for first timers: a list of things I wish I knew to do differently.

First, bring a bag to carry your stuff around in. You are constantly moving from station to station, meaning your belongings do to. Each stop has hooks and benches to store, but if you are carrying your towel, robe, slippers, and book or other quite entertainment; that is a lot to tote around. Instead stuff it all in a waterproof reusable bag and save yourself the trouble.

second, plan your relaxation route. There is a map you can reference, but the path in which to go hot, cold, and cool down is in any order, by your discretion. It is easier to go from top to bottom then bottom to top. Meaning the hot tub at the very top, followed by a cooling soak in the chilling pool. Next the dry sauna on the middle level, and it’s cold plunging pool adjacent. Then the wet sauna or another dry sauna, followed by a dunk in their cold water fountain. Then lastly the hot tub at the bottom most level followed by a spill from their cold shower (sadly this one was out of order during our visit). If you are trying to avoid the hot water you can simply grab a seat under the hot sun, or boil a little more by grabbing a chair by one of their roaring fire pits.

Third, I cannot repeat enough, how much strongly I recommend coming earlier if you have a massage appointment. Arrive an hour or two before to allow yourself sometime to relax and unwind from the 1.5 hour windy drive up. Sandwich your massage appointment with a couple of heating and cooling circuits before and after. This way if you are antsy like me, all the time waiting and sitting for each circuit doesn’t seem too daunting. Plus you are absolutely getting your money’s worth this way.

And lastly go alone. The point of this spa is to relax, and there is no better way than being alone with your self and your own thoughts. This way you can go at your own pace, and need not have to feel like you have to stick with your guest or cater to their preferences. After all doing so does become extra troublesome considering you can’t communicate with them verbally.

In conclusion, this was a a great experience that I have been meaning to check off my bucket list. A unique way to take in the scenery and escape the city. A mini road trip made possible thanks to Mitsubishi Canada and the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

 

SCANDINAVE SPA
8010 Mons Road, Whistler BC, VON 1B8
604-935-2424
scandinave.com

pHresh Spa & the Sandman Hotel

Located in the “Sandman Hotel”, I headed to “Phresh Spa” on Davie for some R&R with a friend. She has been to their location several times before so suggested that I check them out with her today.

She liked the spa’s services and the fact that there is free parking for hotel residents and those using its amenities, but only if you know how to get to it. It is hard to find, with the only entrance at the back alley: an unmarked ascension up a curved narrow drive way. Luckily she was passenger in my car and my guide there.

Given the reputation of the hotel I went in not expecting much, but what I got instead was a not so relaxing day at the spa, not really the intention when you go in for a massage. I had what I can only assume is poop thrown at me, which end in an argument with one of the hotel’s staff.

But first the spa. Located on the third floor of the hotel, a quick elevator ride drops you off at the narrow hallway entrance to “pHresh”. My friend had check in before me, as I had left my phone in the car and needed to go back to get it. I entered the spa’s reception area immediately through the door, and was directed to meet her in the change room by knocking on its door.

I have never been to this spa before and didn’t know what the process was, but I found it odd that I wasn’t given a key or a towel, or even a tour of the facilities, that were included in my service package. Our massages were scheduled at 12pm, but we came early to relax and catch up hours before, as our treatment gave us access to their eucalyptus steam room and the hotel’s roof top pool.

I knocked on the change room door and was let in by my friend, only for me to head back out, back to the receptionist to ask for my own set of keys. The lockers are small and there is no way both our purses and change of clothes could have fit into one. The receptionist made mention of how many keys they have lost in the past, so I assume her intention was for us to share a set between us two. She then got up and grabbed a robe and a pair of slippers and led me back to the change room, assigning me my own locker and key. The key was a scan card for the doors, attached to a ring with actual tiny keys for a physical lock. It was a lot to carry and hard to keep on you in swim suit without pockets. Luckily the spa and pool weren’t busy and you were able to put them aside without fear of someone taking them for their own.

I would later have to return to the receptionist again as she gave my friend her own set of keys and slippers, but no robe. We both didn’t end up using their cloth slippers as they were darken and flattened with heavily use. White might have been a poor choice for something that is reused from client to client, but the robes seemed fine. These we wore into our massages, and used again later by the pool.

The changing room could have been better kept. We arrived 15 minutes after they had opened for the day, and already the floor and counters were wet, and there were wet towels on the floor.

We began our time in the steam room, within the changing room. It was quick to heat and quicker to mist up. It was hard to breath between the thick air and the thicker scent of eucalyptus. I found my eyes stinging and the need to breath through my mouth. We were only able to stay inside for a quick while, returning once again before our appointments.

We spent the rest of the time in the pool. Sadly the pool and its surrounding area wasn’t well maintained by the hotel. Our spa massage gave us access to it, but it was under the hotel’s purview. There were enough stained towels to use self serve, as needed, and the set up was nice enough. There are a variety of cushioned couches, chairs under umbrellas, and whicker loungers to relax on, around the step up pool. Although the asphalt that everything was on was stained with debris and bird droppings. Dried leaves and puddles, and plenty of grime spoke to the lack of care, something a good pressuring washing would have easily remedied. But it is worth noting, that things looked worse in the shade of the early morning and much more appealing and excusable once the sun came out. I didn’t consider where the sun would be and that the hotel would be blocking it at 11am. Luckily we were able to catch some rays once our massages were done.

We were surprised by how warm the water in the pool was. Which led me to wonder whether or not the water gets circulated or even cleaned out? Was this water from the other day, kept warm from the sun of the days before? I wouldn’t be surprised considering the general upkeep of the area, the dirt within it, the stray hairs that I kept feeling in the water as they got caught in my arms and legs, and the used bandaid we later found pool side at its ledge. And it only got worse. The hotel room’s balconies overlook the pool and from one of them, one of their guests threw something at us. It just missed us, splashing and scaring us as it sank down to the bottom. We couldn’t be sure of what it was, without diving down and picking it up. But it was small and oval shaped and when we went in for a closer look, we noticed that it was streaming colour and staining the water around it brown. Naturally our minds went to “is this poop?, it looks like poop!” Either way we didn’t want to chance it, so vacated the water quick. Thus our time in it was cut short with fear of returning later, ruined by someone(s) I assume trying to be funny.

We would then return to the sauna before getting situated in the spa’s lounge with lemon and mint flavoured water just before our appointment. As this was my first time I was required to fill out a form, the standard medical awareness list of checkboxes.

I had their “Relaxation massage”, focusing less on remedy and more on a general feeling of comfort. My other option would have been a deep tissue massage for $15 more. I saved $15 with the relaxation massage and another $15 by not going RMT (as I don’t have coverage yet from my new job as of yet). In total this cost me $110 plus taxes out of pocket. I filled out a waiver and the specialist I saw: Marla, took the time to read it and question what I listed were my sensitive points. She then allocated more time to those parts. She was not shy to apply force to help knead out the knots from my shoulders and put pressure around my wrists. (All fatigue due to extended time spent on my phone. I blog, video edit, and basically do everything off of my phone.)

Marla was an amazing technician. I have had great RMT massages before, and I couldn’t tell the difference between what they were doing then and what she did today. She was small but strong, as seen by the muscles on her arms, that she used well. I was thoroughly massaged into relaxation with her, just as the spa’s description of the massage promised. She took the full hour beginning with me lying face down on a massage table, with its head piece fragranced in lemon grass. We began with we me taking deep breaths in and long slow exhales out, as she pushed down on parts of my back to maximize the stretch. She then worked back to front and limb to limb, applying pressure to points and rubbing out joints. Most notable was the hot towel applied to my back just before I flipped over to my front. I was so relaxed that it was all a blur, there were parts where I wasn’t sure if I was asleep or awake, and I walked out feeling like half of my face was numb. Once again, I was truly relaxed. So much so that it is a shame that the next part of my experience took all that away from me with just one conversation.

When I told Marla about my pool experience she suggested that I inform the hotel, as the spa doesn’t oversee the pool. So after my treatment I dressed myself back up and headed down to the front desk. There, I spoke with “Vishal kate”, as I believe it read on his name tag. I explained the situation and he was quick to label me a liar. He didn’t believe me and insisted on checking first before continuing to converse with me. I described to him exactly where the brown foreign substance struck the water and where we saw it sink (right by the blue tiled line that separated the pool between 4ft and 6ft.) Whereas in contrast when he told his colleague, who was coming back from his break, that he had to go check on what I was describing, the other gentlemen was disgusted and disappointed on my behalf. I had asked for compensation as the reason we chose to come to their spa today was to utilize the pool and having our experience cut short is not fair. Plus if it had actually hit and injured us, that would have been a whole other story, and the hotel would have been responsible for the dangerous actions of their residents. He said that we had to talk to the spa, brushing off any responsibilities and therefore our claim. We didn’t even see anyone retrieve the “poop” from the pool or attempt to flush out the pool to clean and sanitize it. Heck, no one even told those swimming in it after us, what might be in the pool with them.

While “Vishal” went to check, my friend and I went across the street for some “KFC”, having smelled it earlier and being hungry now. It would later make a fine meal by the pool. And here we were immediately given better service by the clerk behind the take out counter, compared to what we should have gotten from a 3.9 star hotel in downtown Vancouver. We had ordered a bucket of 26 pieces (26 because it was a better deal and we wanted a big tub for photos) and orange juice. After our bucket was ready and bagged up we realized that she had forgotten the orange juice. When we went back to ask, she simply gave us the bottle saying she had forgotten to charge it for us. Once again much better service than what we got from the “Sandman Hotel”, which really brought to light the difference between the two.

While we were off getting lunch, “Vishal” went to the spa to asked the ladies working the front what they knew. Not having told the spa receptionist of our experience she simply dismissed “Vishal’s” inquiry. But after she found out this happened to us she was quick to call down to the hotel’s front desk and explain that we were spa guests and that what we experienced was unacceptable. Still the hotel clerk was firm on there being nothing he could do and would later approached me on my way out of the spa to explain this in person and ask if I wanted to speak to his manager. My question back to him was where was this offer at the beginning, why did I have to prove myself and why did he have to go out of his way to prove me otherwise? At this point I was tired and really didn’t want to spend anymore time with him and within the “Sandman”.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
The ladies at the spa salvaged my experience with them with their kindness and understanding, their manager offered me two 30% off coupons for a return visit with a non RMT massage technician and the receptionist, an invitation to their spa party next week with perks. However, truth be told, although Marla was amazing, there were too many little things that took away from this experience and truly nothing unique about the spa to have me returning. Plus now with no pool and lack of amenities I am better off exploring my options else where, at other spas. The roof top pool was the incentive for this first time visit, but having seen it and interacted with the person representing it, I don’t feel I need a return visit to it or the spa. But for those still interested you can pay the drop in rate to use the pool for only $15 per person with the hotel.

 

PHRESH
3rd Floor Sandman Suites Hotel
1160 Davie Street, Vancouver BC, V6E 1N1
604-662-4462
phreshspa.com

The Turkish Hamman experience, Art of Sauna

I don’t often get invites back to places after I write a less than stellar review on them. However the manager of “Art of Sauna” had read my blog and seeing the gaps in my post, wanted to fill in some of them for me today. Mostly, to give me context from her perspective, something I highly appreciate given my career is in sales and business as well. For example, the reason why they don’t have a street facing sign for their building is because they are currently in legality talks with the city of Burnaby to acquire the permit necessary to install their already purchased signage.

If you haven’t already, I suggest reading my original post below to get a better continuity of events to come.

The Art of Sauna

So I was invited back to the “Art of Sauna” two weeks later, coming with the same friend whom I visited with first time. We were going to get a more accurate experience from first hand sources. I was most excited to explore some of the add-on features of the individual saunas, something I had later learned that I missed out on, during my first visit. And to really get a better understanding of the place and how to maximize a visit with them.

A few of the staff remembered me, so already I want to warn of the implications of an event I attend as media. When it comes to anything media related, service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the setting and events, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, no one can truly interpret the world as you do.

My return coincided with a busy day and I could see they had a substantial loyal following this Sunday afternoon. Many people with duffle bags ready to relax and heal. And here I was with nothing but a purse and the flip flops I forgot the first time around. I wanted to know why these folks were come back again and again, as I doubt it was for the same photo op reasons as myself.

My friend and I met with Ana, the spa’s business consultant and manager at their lounge-bar. This time it was actually open and they had $10 smoothies available for purchasing, as well as iced drinks and power bars. Here, she offered us each a glass of “Kvass”, this is a type of Russian soda, which reminded me of sour plum in flavour and colour. I liked it, my guest not so much.

Ana had first come to the “Art of Sauna” as a customer herself, when they first opened less than a year ago. Where upon reading my blog post, agreed with my assessments (and then some). She felt the same lack of information and customer service I had experienced, and saw the same potential I did. Especially given how they don’t really have any competition in their specific market. There are no other places offering as many different saunas options as they do. She was impressed enough and believed in them enough for her to reach out to the owner, to ask for her current job. It has been three months since she has started, and she has already begun overhauling the place. It was only two weeks since my last visit and I already saw improvements. As I mentioned earlier, the bar was now open, coloured signs now advertised all services at the front desk, and they had a cleaner working non-stop mopping up the wet common areas for safety and sanitation. They were even able to carve out two additional massage rooms that featured Himalayan salt as wall paneling. A great addition, as Himalayan salt clears energy and bacteria, while purifying the air. One of these rooms is already being utilized for Thai massages, which combines regular massages with stretching and yoga components.

In her short time with them Ana has taken their standards higher with sanitation and cleanliness being on the top of her list. She has taken over the half completed repair work and completed it, and is still working tirelessly to overhaul the 12,000 share feet of space. The goal is to maximize all this excess space and offer an amusement park worth of services. They have taken a pause for this, their busy season, but expect to continue construction in between days and nights.

She has given the “Art of Sauna” its spa and massage concept, where as before it was just a place for a good steam. Next to come is a heavier focus on health with the bringing on of an interactive health coach and their integrative health treatments. She is working on inviting in a rotation of doctors to host lectures, and to staff a physiotherapist on site for patient sessions. She understands the time that is needed for the implementation of the above, but recognizes it is worth the wait and is something the lower mainland market is looking for. Meanwhile she is still recruiting the right service team for the spa. Finding those technicians that can deliver on service with professionalism and a smile. We both agreed that this is the natural process of birthing any business.

She rounded out her introduction by proudly declaring that what we are seeing now is nothing, and that they will continue to evolve and improve. Five massage rooms for more treatments to come. The addition of inferred saunas and facials to be added later. Games in the lounge to make them a great hang out place. With a detox program for the cafe, along with more healthy snack options. What I am most excited about is the ability to reserve their TBA “Couple’s room”. A private suite with private amenities, which includes dual massage beds and a private jacuzzi. Something to look forward to and to look into closer to Valentine’s Day, in the upcoming year.

She then toured us around the complex, stopping to share tidbits on each saunas. They are separated by wet on the right, with the ones featuring dry heat on the left. Which one you choose is based on your preference. For example women in menopause tend to prefer the wet saunas, finding them more tolerable. Where as those with lash extensions like myself probably prefer the dry ones, as to not have any water touch and ruin our lashes.

To watch the video version of my visit click on the link to my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

It is recommend that if you intend to visit them more frequently that you purchase one of their felt hats, they are insulated to help its wearer avoid overheating. These triangular caps aid in regulating your body’s temperature, because as you may know, you loose and take in heat the quickest from the top of your head. The hat allows you to stay in the saunas for longer by helping you absorb less heat, allowing only your body to take in most of it, to further the quickening of the body’s natural sweating process.

The heat and sweating you receive from each sauna helps to cleanse and detoxify as you pores sweat out the “poison”. It also helps your body metabolize quicker, which means eventual weight loss, if not the loss of water weight immediately. But like exercising and really any new experience, you need to build up a tolerance for it. This means getting hot and cooling down in intervals. To eventually be able to stay in any given sauna for longer.

And there are a few types of showers available to help you in the cool down process. It is advised that when you are using the ones with buckets and rope that you don’t have the water hit the top of your head (like I did the first time around). Doing so can cause temperature shock. It is better to have your chin up and to have the water cascade over the front of your body instead, you also absorb the cooling water better this way.

Currently the other public showers are just regular tiled stalls. But the plan is to install Vichy showers that use colour therapy for weight loss and to help improve the workings of certain body systems based on the hue you strobe it on. There is also the intention of installing massaging shower head for added healing.

The “Aroma steam room” is one of Ana’s favourites. In it they utilize pure eucalyptus oil, which is most helpful with the dry air, smoke, and fire that we have been having in our Vancouver air as of late.

She taught us that the “Finnish Sauna” uses Himalayan bricks to help purify. And that it is so effective, that they once use to preform surgeries in dry saunas, to help keep their open patients sanitized.

And speaking of sanitizing. She reassured us that the wet saunas are sanitized daily, seeing as mould and mildew love thriving in humid and moist conditions. Just looking at the rooms and noting the lack of grout, I could tell that they were very thorough with their this process.

After her concise tour we were left to our own devices. We used it to revisit each sauna with a better understanding of their healing properties; and to therefore really appreciate our time within each.

Here we also revisited the “Russian banyk” where for an additional fee you can purchase a bouquet of dried leaves to hit yourself or a friend with. It sounds weird but it actually feels good. This is part of their “venik” treatment, which is very common and popular within the Russian community.

You start by soaking your bushel of leaves in a bucket/container of hot water for 15 minutes. You have you choice your leaves based on their accompanying scent from either oak or eucalyptus. The leaves sit and steep like tea.

After you bring your giant bowl of “tea” into the “banyk”, which happens to be one of their hottest rooms. You can hit yourself with it; or one another, if you bring a friend. You move your way up from feet to neck, smacking away from limb to body with a “twack”. The motion exfoliates and the scent helps your respiratory system. It is advised that this treatment take up to 45 minutes. You get hot from the steam and the heated leaves, then cool down and rehydrate, only to begin again. Although the leaves has been soaking in hot water, compared to your increased body temperature within the “banyk”, it actually really isn’t that hot. The heated leaves touching your skin has a cooling sensation, and I can definitely see its coarse texture removing a layer of skin as you are repeatedly struck (gently, mind you). For an added scent sensation, you pour the leaf soaked water over the sauna’s hot coals to unleash even more of its aroma therapy. When all is said and done, you walk out of the room with leaves every where, and many fragments still stuck to your skin; a showing of a successful treatment had.

We were also treated to “The Art of Sauna”: signature service: the traditional Turkish Hamman. This is a bathing and exfoliating treatment administered in the room with tiled recliners and a matching tiled table. It is in a shared space with the Egyptian sauna. Both are set at the lowest temperature; making them ideal for doing peels, body masks, and clays treatments within.

The Hamman treatment is administered by a gentleman who was the utmost professional. Hakan is popular amongst the clients, with many of his available time slots being fully booked in advance. He is currently the only one who does and can administer this service. So be warned, for those females or males not comfortable with a man in his bathing suit rubbing you with bubbles in your bathing suit, this one might not be for you. Traditionally this is actually carried out with you being in nude, which makes sense considering it is a bath of sorts. And let me tell you, there is nothing more luxurious than another person bathing you. Something that you have do your every day, and typically do in a rush fashion. Something you haven’t had done to you since you were a child, and is as comforting as relaxing as you can remember.

Also know as a foam bath, it is an exfoliating, cleaning, and massage treatment all in one. Once again, if you are looking to request this one, make sure you book it in advance, as walk-in availability is limited, and he is the main reason why many come to the spa in the first place. The process carried out with a textured mit, multiple bars of olive oil soap, a soft cloth, and his skilled hands. A variation on this is the cleopatra massage in the Egyptian sauce, where honey and milk are used to smooth the skin instead. Both treatments are described as being very sensual. I was able to indulge in the former, which proved to be difficult given the fact that I came without a swim suit, and a bikini would be preferred to expose as much skin as possible. But we made it work. He was very polite and an professional in helping me hide my modesty, but to be honest I ain’t that shy. Truth be told I would have preferred it like how the Europeans do, in the nude (which I have experienced before at another spa, but with a woman). But with two separate face cloths I was able to hide my good bits today. One between the legs and the other over the chest.

To start, you are scrubbed more gently. Beginning with your face first, he cups your head in his hands like a child, very nurturing. He then gets you to lay down on the stone tiled table where you are exfoliated feet to neck on your front then again on your back. You get to see all the darkened pieces of skin that is rubbed off by his scrubbing motion. The treatment time is approximately 30 minutes long, but it does take longer the more surface area you have, and the more skin you need to scrub off. I actually exfoliate myself everyday and yet he was still able to remove so much dead skin from me. I was surprised and left feeling softer than I have ever been.

Once the skin is removed he washes you simultaneously with two bars of soap in each hand. With your pores now open you absorb the benefits of the soap, further making your skin all the more supple and soft. Next you are foamed up. To do this he uses a bag-like cloth that is soaped up in a pan of water. He removes it and blows into it to create a balloon. Then ringing in over your body, its foam engulfs you. This is done for your front and back, with the massaging of each part in between. They are shorter massages that have you planning your return trip for more. My favourite was when he rubbed my face and temples, with this odd, but oddly satisfying lshaking move.

During the whole experience he was friendly. He educated you on what he was doing if you were interested. And left you alone if you wanted more of a relaxing treatment.

When he is done, he escorts you to the shower in the corner to rinse off. And clean up of the space is as a pointed hose. My only complaint was I wish it lasted longer and maybe an eye mask, darker light, or something to help you relax further.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
You can definitely make a day out of this. A They are in the repeat business, and given how good you feel walking out, they will be a very successful one. When I came out of the changing room I was still sweaty, but my skin felt plush and firm; silky soft with even the colour of my long time tattoo seeming more vibrant. I smelled like eculytus and oak and I was fully relaxed.
I now understand their name and recognize that hosting all these sauna is an art. It requires the right education and a knowledgable person to guide you through it all. And by the sounds and looks of things, they are going in the right direction to bringing all their clients the VIP treatment that I got today.
I would love to return, but will give them some time, so that during my next visit I can take in even more of their new amenities that was mentioned to me above.

 

ART OF SAUNA
7818 6th Street, Burnaby BC, V3N 4N8
1-877-224-8034 | 604-484-7944
artofsauna.ca

The Art of Sauna

Integrative health and wellness centre.

My friend invited me to the spa for my birthday, which by the way is a great gift for those who have plenty and want nothing This would be a relaxing afternoon of massages and saunas in Burnaby BC.

However getting there would be the hard part. The spa is not well signed. Located in a smaller, covered plaza; without street signage or its name spelled out across the building, it isn’t something you can easily spot driving by. Thank goodness of google maps. As a business this doesn’t help generate traffic or funds for them, but for us patrons, it meant we had the spa and its amenities all to ourselves today. And therefore it became our personal photo op and film set.

To see the vlog cover of our time here, please visit the link below.

 

What sets the “Art of Sauna” apart from all others is the number of sauna services that they provide. Nine different experiences from nine different cultures, all under one roof. In no specific order: a salt steam room, an Egyptian rasul, Himalayan salt room, aroma steam sauna, dry aroma sauna, Finnish dry sauna, Roman steam room, Turkish Hamman, and Russian Banya.

We brought a Groupon deal for a Swedish massage, which included unlimited access to all of the saunas above. My host had called to make the appointment, requesting a female masseuse for her comfort. However this ask was not recorded, and to her dismay she was offered the services of one of their male masseurs. Luckily the receptionist on today was a trained registered massage therapist and offered to jump in, in his place. I too prefer a woman’s touch, but for the sake of time decided to have my appointment alongside my host’s, accepting the service of the male masseur.

We were given waivers to sign, and after assuming all legal liabilities, were sent to the changing room to disrobe. It is advised that you bring your own bathing suit and some flip flops, however if you forget they can supply you with substitution in one form or another. We brought suits but ended up keeping ourselves decent with a towel around the chest. And we forgot flip flops, but where given the house loaners to use.

We were each given our own locker key to secure our belongings within. The key is more like a bracelet-fob, and with a swipe over the electronic sensor, you lock and unlock your assigned locker with ease. In each locker is a robe and two towels. All three were already showing wear from repeated cleanings (I hope) and use. That is my own major critique of the place. This was such a lovely spa, each of the Sauna rooms well designed and even better maintained, everything about them felt sanitary. It was a shame than this sense of cleanliness and relief didn’t transition into the locker room. I found myself visiting the washroom and looking for the cleanest toilet. A couple before my final choice had visible human waste on the bowl (And we arrived just as soon as they opened at 12pm, so no one had been on them prior). And now here we were dressed in a robe with frayed ends and discoloured spots. If it was once padded and comfortable, it lost all this recognition. The belt to secure it was the worse, as it was stuck in a matted state.

The above is a shame as I feel that this spa has so much potential. However with the mixed messages in sanitation, it is getting no where fast. Given the lack of patrons, I can safely assume that they are not doing well financially, and as a result need to cut corners. And in this case it means lighter cleaning coverage and using your equipment and supplies until they break. Otherwise money can be funnelled to make the spa more attractive for those coming in and staying within. A stand out sign and a lobby deserving of the quality and luxury they were offering just behind it. Although at the same time, when I was done my service, I walked out into the lobby with four employees crowded behind the counter chatting. Whereas they could have one less attendant and a cleaner that services the space continually (As I have seen at the spas within downtown Vancouver).

At least our overall, self directed experience was promising. So back to that and our massage before.

The massage is completed in individual rooms. It is a full body massage, which gives you the ability to cloth or leave your body bare. I went all natural and kept my dignity under the shield of a towel. Most of the work on your glutes is done above the towel, with emphasis on the outer side of the buttocks. No touching is done on it or around the thighs. You are given the ability to customize your treatment from heavier to lighter kneading, and how much additional time is spent on a specific part. I sadly fell asleep for a good portion of this service. I guess it is safe to assume that he was so great at his job that I was completely relaxed and comfortable enough to fall asleep on him. However, I was sad to have missed the sensations of this medium pressure massage, and was only awoken when it was time to re-dress.

I decided to leave the robe after my massage and instead opted to use the white waffle towel available as a wrap. A comfortable idea, but one that had me readjusting it repeatedly as it was quick to come undone. Thankfully there are no video cameras, so it was easy enough to face a corner and rewrap, especially as we were the only ones using the facility for a long time and when someone else joined, it was a couple that kept to themselves.

As I mentioned earlier, you get the run of the place; exploring each room at your leisure. Although I would have like the consideration of a guided tour. We were not spa enthusiast or spa connoisseurs by any means, so didn’t know what we were doing. (The notes I have gathered below were from my research after my visit.) So a suggestion on where to start and a run down on which room would give us the desired benefits would have not only changed the experience, but probably bettered it. It was only after visiting their website (after this visit) did I realize that there were additional treatments within each sauna that we could have added on to our experience. A handful of which I would have gladly paid for to try; like the massage done with a broom. What a missed opportunity for us and for some additional revenue for the spa. Isn’t that the point of Groupons? To lure you in with a coupon deal and have you spending more to supplement this discount, whilst generating repeat business. Alas, another missed opportunity for them.

The below are the different saunas offered and a little about each.

The salt steam room is an enclosed space decorated in black and white tile. On either ends of the room are high-back seats to recline against. Here they use salt infused steam to duplicate the feeling of being in the ocean, which in turn has an healing effect on your respiratory system. The steam is wet, so you walk out drench in fluids that are not necessarily generated by your own body.

The Rasul takes up a smaller space. Two chairs sit covered in and surrounded by shimmering glass tiles. Each of these loungers are heated. They are also more ergonomic that the seats above, designed with comfort and the body’s comfort in mind. It is here that you can enjoy their premium sapropel skin conditioning therapy for extra.

The salt room glows in backlit pinky-orange salt bricks. Here you relax and enjoy the benefits of salt sourced from millions of years old deposits, found deep in the Himalayan mountains. There are many benefits to surrounding yourself with the healing properties of salt. Amongst other things, it is believed that it has an antiseptic property, that also helps to restore electrolytes after the loss of fluids (say from an extended steam from the other rooms).

The aroma steam sauna is the prettiest of all the rooms, tiled in shimmery and iridescent blue, however this too isn’t very visible once the steam is in full force. Centred around a basin you are surrounded by the subtle fragrance of natural oils mixed with the heavy hot steam. The steam is thick and dense, you can hardy see what is in front of you.

The dry aroma sauna is designed to look like a wood cabin, which speaks to the origins of a traditional sauna. It combines dry heat with an herbal scent that wafts through the reclaimed wood.

The Finnish dry sauna is a more classic style sauna, centred around steam created from the pouring of water over hot rocks. This is one of their more spacious sauna rooms, which is enhanced with more backlit Himalayan salt bricks, thus combining the two treatments into one.

The Roman steam room is their hottest sauna with the highest humidity, and it definitely felt like it. Out of the need to breath clear, we were forced to spend the least amount of time here. In this confined space, water condensation on the skin, along with your sweat, helps to relieve the body of its toxins.

The Hammam creates a slow and deep body heating with lower temperatures, but without paying for the service you don’t get to experience it. The space has an authentic feel to it, with its white marble walls and floor, marble table and stone kurnas.

And lastly, the Russian Banya (Russian Sauna) uses high temperatures for rapid body heating, combining heat and steam to do the trick. It features a unique wood broom massage (venik) for extra.

There were also several public showers available for you to hop into and cool down with. I liked the novelty of the wooden bucket with pull string delivery system the most.

Although, I would have preferred a nice pool to soak and rest in, instead. However they did have a lounge area with beach chairs and a faux beach scene to relax within.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
You can definitely make a day out of this. A hidden gem in need of some improvement, but with so much potential I hope they do better in the future and get the following they deserve. Worth checking out with plenty of value if you utilize their Groupon deal.

 

ART OF SAUNA
7818 6th Street, Burnaby BC, V3N 4N8
1-877-224-8034 | 604-484-7944
artofsauna.ca

Big Feet Reflexology

IMG_1109IMG_1120

My friend and I were looking to treat ourselves to a last minute foot massage. There aren’t many options in the time that we needed. And after calling around to no avail, I remembered the Chinese reflexology chain, “Big Feet”. I recalled my first visit being a highly enjoyable foot massage with my mom. And subsequent satisfactory visits, including back massages with my partner. So when looking for options I suggested its Victoria Drive location as our solution. Little did I know, this would be a bad decision, and result in the most awkward service we have ever had to endure to date.

They had reconfigure the room, since the last time I visited. The furniture was moved to maximize space and to be able to serve more clients at once. What resulted was, very little privacy when conversing and the need to listen in on everyone else’s experience. This included the painful moans of a man, who I assume was getting a deep tissue massage, and could not help but voice his interpretation of it. A loud echo you couldn’t muffle as, although the massage room had four walls for more intimacy, they lacked a few inches in height that would have them sealed them off completely by having them meet up with the ceiling.

IMG_1111IMG_1119

We were two of the five customers being serviced in the main open room. We were seats on two recliners side by side with two others, facing another man face down on a forward sitting massage chair. Every one was by themselves and quiet, so at first my guest and I felt bad for talking with one another. However, considering that we were paying customers and this was the type of experience you spend catching up with with the friend you visit with, why should we have to diminish our time together? However this would soon be continuously disrupted my the man who attended to my feet.

IMG_1117IMG_1118

The service begins with a foot soak in a bag of warm water, in a bucket. Your feet are then dried and the practitioner assigned to you sets about rubbing them with lotion. For those who come in with pants that cannot roll up, they offer you the option to remove them all together, and borrow one of their towels for a make shift sarong during the service. This was something I had to take advantage of.

My guest was serviced by an quiet older woman, I a man in his mid if not early 30’s who liked to chat. At first I liked his grip and his humour, but his intrusiveness and the fact he insisted on talking about my guest and myself in mandarin, in front of us, to his colleague as he worked irked me. It only got worst when he figured out that I could understand his mandarin. From then on he wouldn’t let us engage in one another, but instead he acted on the unavoidable eavesdropping and injected himself into our conversation over and over again.

The worst of it was when he sighed a couple of times and announced that he was bored and his job was boring, as he rubbed my feet. At first I didn’t respond, so he repeated himself and his huff louder. He did this until I was forced to ask him the obligatory, “why?” This was the opening he wanted to be able to tell me in detail how this isn’t his main job, that in actuality he owns and runs a hostess club. A night club where majority of its clients are rich Japanese businessmen, looking to pay for the time and attention of pretty young females. It is called “Hollywood North”. I googled it, it is real, it actually exists. His claim to run it, is debatable though. There was really nothing I could offer to his conversation and prayed for it to end as soon as possible, just like I did for the situation I was in. Which is sad, considering we paid $40 in full for this 45 minute service and didn’t fully enjoy it. I spent it looking away from him and pretending I couldn’t hear or see him. My calves and feet did feel more relaxed afterwards, but the process to get them there was not as enjoyable of a feeling.

And when I think it couldn’t, it got worse. We inquired about the massages they also offer, after hearing the unavoidable moans of the gentleman mentioned above. And to our question, the guy in front of me, offered a back rub to my guest, if she was willing to come and sit on the leg stool in front of him. The leg stool where I was currently posted up on. He and his comment were completely unprofessional. You could see his colleague that was working on my guest, felt just as uncomfortable with his continuous chatter. My question is, where did he get off thinking he could get away with this behaviour? Yes we could have been more vocal on how it was not appreciated on our end. But he shouldn’t even be speaking like this to anyone, let alone a paying and tipping client. Had it not been a Chinese business and had the other employees been fully fluent in English, I may have broached the behaviour to his boss. I certainly didn’t feel we should have to pay for something that we got no real benefit from. But we did…

To the right of me, my guest had the opposite issue. Not as bad as what I endured, but an experience that wasn’t all that great either. She couldn’t communicate with her attendant. With reflexology, certain parts of the bottom of the foot corresponds to the different organs within your body. It would have been nice to know what each pressure point correlated to. And when we were feeling pain, which parts did it represent and would need some additional work on. However she couldn’t even figure out the translation to simply point to her own body. There was a poster of the points, on the exterior of the building, one that we wished they had offer us as a hand out at the beginning of the service. Or better yet an introduction on how reflexology works and what we can do to better take care of ourselves or mend and repair.

I was proud to have impressed both of the employees with my endurance of the forceful pressure applied to my feet. I would later learn that I was fairly healthy to have felt no pain during my treatment. A point I give credit to thanks to food blogging. Being able to take in so many different nutrients from all that I consume and try. However my pain free success became a challenge to the guy rubbing my feet. It was to the point that he tried to apply excess pressure to see if I would flinch. He did this a few times to garner my attention when I resorted to looking away from him.

I also didn’t appreciate him critiquing my extra meaty calves like it was a disability. They are the result for my job and being on my feet for morst of it. A fact I love, as it is the only thing keeping me in shape and allowing me to eat like I do without exercising. How dare he made me feel bad about it.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This particular guest and I have no luck when it comes to spa treatments. All of the ones we have decided to visit have disappointed us, and this one was no different. The service was surprising for a chain and completely unacceptable for any business. Writing this now, my biggest regret was not putting up a fight on the bill, and being too meek to ask him to stop in the moment. I guess I cannot assume everyone can understand social cues and knows how to be respectful. Never again!

 

BIG FEET
4880 Victoria Drive, Vancouver BC, V5N 4P5
604-568-3890
bigfeet.ca

Cocoa Tanning Studio – Yaletown

IMG_4611IMG_4612

I have been looking for a new tanning salon ever since my convienent neighbourhood one closed down.

I tan to avoid the need to have to cover myself in make up. Make up in order to hide the slightest blemish or the tiniest hint of red. Tanning is like semi-permanent makeup with longer lasting results. And therefore it feels like my money is going somewhere and that has some longevity to it.

So to keep up my golden skin tone I have been stopping by at any tanning salon, in any area that has proven convenient for me. I have adopted the, “if in the neighbourhood, I might as well”, sort of attitude. And today my go with the flow has brought me to a gem of a salon.

I was early for another appointment in the area, and after driving past “Cocoa” many times in the past, I thought it worth visiting now, given my ample time today. My only concern was the price. I am accustomed to dropping in and paying its fee and the price for one packet of lotion with bronzer; a total of just over $20. So given that this was Yaletwon and I was forced to drop $10 for two hours of meter parking. I thought I would go in and just inquire before committing.

But the passion of the clerk, his carefree banter, and his efficient demeanour had me committing to a session regardless of price. I couldn’t help me acknowledge his service and that him for it during our introduction. And lucky for me, they have a very inciting customer promotion, one worth mention.

After a quick information download and a signing of their waivers, I was rewarded 3 sessions for $3 as a first time customer. The only hitch, I would have to use the other two tan times within the next two weeks, before they expire. Sadly, at most I tan once a month. However, given how great the experience was, I am definitely thinking of returning to get in more artificial sun sooner than latter. And maybe then, even sign up for a package at the continued new member discount of 15% off.

The clerk walked me through everything with speed and without a stutter. He knew his stuff. I needed new protective eye wear, he showed me my two choices and gave me the differences between the two, without prompting. He did the same for the one time use lotion packages, when I said I preferred a sweet fruity scent.

IMG_4613IMG_4615

There are different types of tanning beds, and with set minutes, you can take advantage of any one. You only need to decide whether you want to stand or lie down. I am lazy and prefer to lay, however doing so doesn’t give you an even tan. Often, parts are squished down against the bottom pane of the bed. This typically leaves you with a lighter butt crack, fondly referred to as a “cotton tail”. Stand for 10-15 minutes to avoid this. Each bed has maximum allot times, they are usually dependant on the heat and intensity of lights.

I got the best bed in the house for lying down in, the orange one in the window, called the “Queen Berry”. It has speakers by your head and a powerful fan to keep you cool while your skin cooks. It was also well maintain, and like the rest of the room, not a speck of dust to be seen, unlike the last new place I was at, that had a coating of dust on the hinge of the tanning bed’s cover.

I was led into front room, and the blinds were drawn to give me privacy. I was given all the time I needed to disrobe and smooth on cream. Whereas I have lost minutes in a bed, for not being fast enough.

And where other tanning salons offer their services in cramped quarters, this room was spacious enough for two beds. There was a chair for sitting, a hook for your coat, and a shelf of female and male spray on deodorant to use after your service. They even made available a thin robe and a pair of flip flops, not that I imagine many utilizing it. But what I appreciated the most was the full length mirror available. It made the self application of tanning lotion easier. And who doesn’t like to see a full body before and after comparison of themselves naked?

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
It was such an enjoyable experience that I decided to write and post this blog on the same day that I got my terrific tan. Chalk it up to the happiness of all that extra vitamin D I got. I don’t know how long their new customer special is on for, but for long time tanners and those who have never been, but are interested, $3 for 3 tans is too good of a deal to miss.

 

COCOA TANNING
1165 Pacific Blvd, Vancouver BC, V6Z 2R8
604-899-7989
cocoatanning.ca

Float Yaletown

IMG_2230IMG_2232

I have been to a sensory deprivation float experience before. A spa that has you washing away all your stress and worry by blocking out sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste in a pod. I feel like this is the closest anyone would and could get to the feeling of being unborn, and within your mother’s womb again.

As I mentioned, I have been to one of these spas before, but at a different location, by a different company. I decided it was not for me then, but had return now, with a friend who wanted to try this for herself. “Float Yaletown” is highly acclaimed, with many five star ratings and a groupon for 38% off. With those two factors in play, I was willing to give floating in the dark another shot.

The location and setting was already more impressive that what I had during my first time. A walk up a flight of stair, led to a second floor studio. By the entrance was shoe rack and a sign inviting us to remove our shoes. We did so, dawning a pair of their hotel slippers instead. They looked and felt new.

IMG_2235IMG_2234

You checked in at their front desk. A lone clerk worked until they closed at 12am. The longer hours made sense, given that this would be a great way to unwind then stumble into bed, and for the business professional that got out of work late. The clerk walked the stone floor barefoot, she too adhered to their no shoes policy.

Beside her desk was a shelf of natural soaps, robes, water bottles, and homeopathy products: essential oils and essences; for sale.

We helped ourselves to some cucumber flavoured water, as we filled out their waiver in their lounge area.

IMG_2241IMG_2273

When everything checked out, we were led through a frosted glass door and showed to our rooms with our own pods. And her the clerk gave us the run down.

IMG_2245IMG_2246

Each room was for a single person use. It has a shower in the corner with body wash, shampoo, and conditioner dispensers. A full length mirror, and one at head height for your face. Below the latter is a shelf with a box of useful accessories for your visit. Cotton swabs, ear plugs, face cloths; and petroleum jelly, in case you have any cuts or scars, apparently it stings if you do and the jelly would help.

IMG_2250

You begin by disrobing and wash yourself in the shower. Shampoo and body wash to rinse off before steeping in. The attendant advised inserting earplugs in before this. The ear plugs were a god send during this float, my last experience was without them and I couldn’t help but focus on how much water was filling in my ears, and how awful it felt to have it sloshing around. However, I forgot to put them on before my shower and was left inserting them into my ears slightly wet later. They offered two versions of ear plugs. One was the cheap neon stuff that you mould with your fingers and heat up, before inserting into your ear canal and letting it expand and fill within. The other was a wax, that you also moulded, but this only covered the exterior. I decided to double up. I hate the feeling of wet ears, luckily they had cotton swabs available to help you remedy this after.

Each pod is filled with a liquid the clerk described as being “heavier than water”. I suspect it includes some sort of sanitizer. The denser water actually helps with body buoyancy. Inside there is a spray bottle of normal water, in case you get something in you eye and need to wash it out, and a pool noodle for neck support.

IMG_2247IMG_2251

When you are ready, you hop in and pull the latch down after you. There is a handle on the inside, and a button to push, to shut off pod’s internal lights. Beside this bottom is another, that allows you to contact the attendant for emergencies.

For the first two minutes you can see the light of the room through the cracks of the pod’s lid. However after inactivity of two minutes, the room’s light turns off by itself, and the experience begins. Pitch darkness, bobbing belly up in a pool of water, kept warm through the pod’s heater, set to human body temperature.

The initial dip in gave me some sensitivity in my lower regions, but eventually my body adapted and that sensation went away. I recalling it being much worse at the last place, but also remembering a strong smell of chemicals there.

IMG_2257IMG_2256

The float is a surreal feeling, it sort of makes you feel small and non existent. Like everything you crave for and worry over, doesn’t really seem all that important in this timeless space. My body got to a stage of just existing and when it went completely limp and relaxed… I farted. Tiny bubbles rose between my legs and popped at the water’s surface. My body was telling me that this I would be the most relaxed I would get, here.

I went in with an open mind, but ended up experiencing the same issues I had last time. I am a restless person, I cannot just sit still, meditation is lost on me and yoga is too slow. So being told to do nothing for 90 minutes was damn near impossible. I couldn’t keep my eyes closed and my mind still. And for a person who is as afraid of the dark as me, this becomes a problem. My mind raced and I immediately called on every horror movie cliche and imagined every Freddy, Michael, Chuckie, and boogey man that existed coming to get me at my most vulnerable. Alone, naked, wet, and trapped in this pod.

I tried to think my way out of it, only to have me coming up with what I wanted to write about for this blog post and fearing that I would forget it. My mind wouldn’t stop it self.

IMG_2270IMG_2258

I ended up stirring from my float, turning on the light, lifting the hatch, drying my arms with a towel, and grabbing my phone. So here I am paying $50 to write about sensory deprivation, which I apparently know very little about, in a pool of water, with my upper half drying, and a thin white film caking over my skin.

Just as well, seeing as despite using the pool noodle, the float was still hard on my neck. It lay limp and arched towards my back, and panging in pain. It had me calling it quits less than 20 minutes in.

My guest on the other hand had a great experience. She was able to shut out the world and even fall asleep.

When the time ticked down and the 90 minutes was up, a soft music came on to stir us. I was already up, so proceeded to wash myself off. Shampoo, body wash, and this time conditioner too. There are towels for you to dry off with, and the full length mirror helped you get dressed.

IMG_2275

Outside the room, in the hallway, they also have a vanity with mirror and clean up accessories like cotton balls, pads, and swabs. Styling gel, hair spray, hydrating skin cream, and body deodorant. They even had combs, anything you would need to set yourself straight before walking out their door.

But even though I did a full clean, I still felt the need to go home and shower more thoroughly. And this with their shower being a lot nicer than mine, at home. A high pressure shower head, comfortable stone floor, and the open space of no curtain on a rod. And bonus, their conditioner smelled amazing.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Not gonna lie, this is my second attempt at this, and it is still not for me. I can’t sit still, I can’t even just watch television without doing something else, so I don’t know why I think I can just aimlessly float for 90 minutes. So instead, I spent the time blogging and taking great hair selfies in the “thicker water”. And therefore, I yet again, have come to the conclusion that this is not for me. I prefer a massage and a sauna to help me relax. And a pool or beach for my water fun. I won’t be back, but I know enough to be able to recommend this experience to other.

 

FLOAT YALETOWN
1059 Cambie Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 5L7
604-974-9131
floatyaletown.com

Sun Lounge Tanning Studio

IMG_3305IMG_3311

 

I am a creature of habit. So when my partner brought me to my first tanning session and I liked it, I kept going, and I kept going to the exact same location. The purpose of each visit, to darken my skin and hide the appearance of acne and scars. An ultimately avoid the feeling of having to hide under a coat of foundation with a nice even tan. So today, when looking for a touch up, I was utterly disappointed to learn that my neighbourhood tanning salon had been barred up and was closed for business. The gate was extended and the room was left dark, a note on the door said “goodbye”. Guess my once a month visits were not enough to keep their business going.

So my thought now was to find a new place. A new salon I felt comfy to strip down in. Somewhere that was easy to drive to and had free parking. The question was, do I take this opportunity to find somewhere new? Or do I stick with the same franchise, but at a different location? I googled the the next closest “Suntopia” location… They were all closed. That left me with only one option- to find a new place for my tanning needs.

When driving home I spotting a possibility. It seemed like a good choice as I didn’t have to change my regular route. I would be able to stop and tan at a whim; especially as I keep my protective eye wear in the glove compartment of my car. I liked not having to go out of my way to get to it, then being able to park in their underground lot for free, as a shopper of the “Tandem” complex.

The salon looked decent waking in, and was especially inviting with their 50% off discount if you came in between 9:30am and 1pm, Monday to Friday. One of their more high end beds graced the display window.

The reception desk was right at the entrance. To the right of it, their wall of suntan lotions and applicable accessories. I liked the ability a shopper had to pick up bottles, read labels, and check the cost of things without having to ask a clerk for help. However their selection was limited. They only had three packets of one time use lotions for me to choose from today. I wanted to do a drop-in and try their beds and salon, before purchasing a package and a lotion which they could store on location. My packet choices were between tingle lotions and a regulator bronzer. The former is suppose to rupture the top layer of your skin giving you the feeling, heat, and sensation of burning. Hence the “tingling”. You would essentially feel like you were sun burnt and be red because of it. This would last for a couple of hours, before cooling off and evening out to a even and darker tan. I was curious, but didn’t like the idea of my skin “feeling hot like it was burnt”. So stuck with a regular packet that too promised optimal dark colouring, but without the breaking of my top layer of skin.

I was one of many new clients who decided to try “Sun Lounge” out, now that “Suntopia”, was closed. The clerk helping me chatted me up as I filled out their first time visit waver. It was a list asking me questions about my skin, to learn my limitations in sun absorption. When time to choose my desired tanning bed, I recognized the name of the one I had been using previously, so decided to stick with it. I also went for the same time, for comparison sake and the fact I knew exactly what I was asking for. 15 minutes on a maximum of 20.

My goal was to find a new regular tanning place. One that I felt comfortable to disrobe in, and a bed I felt comfortable to lie on. Somewhere safe and sanitary. This location had less beds, but visually was a nicer salon. No adverts adding to the walls, just a frosted sliding door shielding bed from the public, and a stylized mirror for use in each room.

The washroom was a lot nicer as well. I typically start my tanning time here, removing my make up, for a fresh surface to apply lotion on to. I had warn the clerk of my intention, and she did say she would start the bed later. However, I still found myself scrambling to evenly apply lotion and rushing to hop into a bed that started the tanning process without me in it. I slapped on the staining lotion in streaks, fumbled for my eyewear with oily hands, and then awkwardly rolled in to the bed with my hip first.

IMG_3310IMG_3307

The top of their “passion” bed didn’t have a barrier and a place to stop your pillow, marking your position. So I lost the head rest to the ground and found my forehead sticking out beyond the shine of the light. Some greasy readjusting left body prints, as I got into place. The bed itself was an older model, the highest setting of the fan didn’t provide much cooling. I sweated on to the plastic bed under me, leaving an additional layer of film. This I believed blocked the optimized light rays from evening out my skin tone. Yet the fan that buzzed above me was so loud that I couldn’t hear the dance music playing past it. There was one speaker bolted to the wall by my head, but I couldn’t make out the music past the whirl of the fan’s motor. The “passion” bed that I had used previously had speakers attached right to the bed’s physical frame. In this way, they created the feeling of surround sound as you laid still. And said speakers also offered that protective barrier where the bed ends, that I mentioned missing above.

Mid way through the actual tanning process, I started feeling a wave of heat resonating from my behind. The lights on the bottom of the bed were intense, and as a result my rear end felt like it was burning. Seeing that I was on my back, the only way I could get relief was to bend my knees and lift my bum. I didn’t want to climb out of the bed and retrieve the rolled up towel provided on the chair nearby. As I already missed 3 of the 15 minutes I paid for trying to get in, in a hurry. I am sure I could have said something, but to get dress, convey the message, then climb back in bed hardly seemed worth it, especially for a place I don’t think I would return to again. During and climbing out, my buttocks continued to tingling with heat and a mild sting, like how the tingling lotion was described. Except I was supposedly using the regular stuff.

When I got out of the bed, I notice that the hinge that allowed the top part of the bed to pull down and sandwich you into between lights, had not been cleaned. It was caked in chunky puffs of dust. This is equipment different people use regularly, that people ought to feel comfortable lying in naked. And with this view I didn’t have that same confidence as I did walking in. Not to mention they didn’t have that sign reassuring guests that each bed was throughly sanitized before their use, like how my last salon did. Luckily I didn’t notice it until after my session was done. I wouldn’t know how to broach the topic without looking like a germ-a-phobe.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Seeing as I am just starting my search, there is no need to commit to the first other salon I have visited in the last 5 years. And seeing as I treat myself to a bronzing only once a month I can take my time sourcing a new location. Though shame, this would have been the most convenient one, if not for the lack of lotions, the quality of the bed and the level of sanitation. But in the end I got what I had intended, a nice golden brown to my complexion. And as the experience was less than 30 minutes, and I don’t have too many issues; I can see myself returning out of laziness and willingness to drive anywhere else. Hence forth, this will be my plan b tanning salon.

 

SUN LOUNGE
4158 Dawson Street , Burnaby BC, V5C 0A4
604-294-8266
sunlounge.ca

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén