I’m told I am hard to shop for. People tell me that I’m picky and they are scared to buy me things I might not like. One gift that is always a winner in my books, is a gift certificate for a spa. I’m a fan of pampering and preening and relaxation and any sort of rejuvenation that I put zero effort into and come out feeling better than when I went in. As a fan of spas, I have also become hyper critical of spas.
A while back, my husband bought me a gift certficate for a full body massage at a local place that will remain nameless, and I walked out of there more tense than when I walked in. I felt rushed and annoyed. When I left, critical parts like my neck, shoulders, and upper back went completely untouched, and far too much time had been spent on areas like my hands and fingers. And while everyone like a good hand massage, I didn’t go in for a “full body massage” because I had tense hands.
So when I recently received a gift certificate for Urban Phoenix Wellness Spa, I was eager to try out a new place. I decided to go for a facial this time, instead of a massage, and I selected their “Signature Facial” at $80 – which is a fairly average price for a proper facial. I can sum up my experience pretty succinctly: best facial ever.
First, though, a note about Urban Phoenix’s location. The spa is located on the top floor of the very historic Galbraith House, an iconic and familiar building I pass by almost daily. This location provides amazing architecture and character – including fir floors, original interior doors, and amazing sloped walls – but it also means that you have to climb a lot of stairs to get to the spa and it did mean that passing traffic could be heard faintly during my treatment which did eventually fade into the white noise, but the noise was noticeable at first. The entrance to the spa is around the back of the property and parking is available both in a lot designated for the building, or on the street out front.
Andrea is the esthetician at Urban Phoenix and she has 18+ years experience in a spa setting. She assessed my skin for me and we talked about the treatment she was going to do while she cleaned and prepped my skin. All facials are custom designed for each client as no two clients have the same skin. One of my biggest complaints about spas and facials is that you are frequently made to feel like some sort of a failure because you don’t walk in having perfect skin. As far as I am concerned, if I had perfect skin, I wouldn’t be there. Not only did Andrea understand that my breastfeeding son was partly to blame for my very dry skin, but she also didn’t chastise me when I sheepishly confessed that my skin care “regime” included well, nothing.
She was efficient and knew exactly when to talk and when not to – also a skill that’s learned by spending countless hours servicing clients. My actual facial treatment spanned just over an hour and never once felt rushed. It included steam, extractions, and rebalancing. As a bonus, I also received a neck and shoulder massage, hand and arm massage, and foot and calf massage. I also have to give a big thumbs up to the heated bed and also to the infrared heating pad placed at my lower back – very lovely. Afterward, Andrea provided me with a few samples of the products she had used to try at home, along with directions to use them.
Urban Phoenix Wellness Spa offers a full complement of services. A full range of esthetics is provided by Andrea. Heather takes care of all the bodywork – and I am eager to try her Buddhist Massage which I am told is out of this world. The spa also offers accupuncture (of which $500 is now covered by MSP – awesome!) by Doreen, and most recently, they installed an infrared sauna. The spa is also happy to provide an ideal setting for a private party in the evenings – the perfect idea for a group of friends or a bridal shower. Provided at least 5 friends book treatments, they can accomodate up to 13 people, and you are welcome to bring your own refreshments and use their kitchen.
This was a really enjoyable experience and I highly recommend them. Who needs a snooty, overpriced Yaletown spa when Urban Phoenix is right here? I left feeling like a million bucks and I will definitely be back.
Urban Phoenix Wellness Spa is located at 131 8th Street in New Westminster – 604 523 0016 – www.urbanphoenixspa.com. They are open Tuesday – Friday 11-7, Saturdays 11-6, Sundays by appointment. Walk ins are welcome 12-5 daily.