|If you were to create a Venn diagram where one circle was labeled “cheap” and the other labeled “awesome”, the middle point where they cross over could be labeled “Vancouver on the Cheap”. In other words, this is a weekly series on things to do and places to go in Vancouver that fall into that magical category of being both cheap and awesome.
Got a cheap-living tip you’d like to share? Send it in!
Every once and a while, it’s nice to get have someone else help you get a little more beautiful, right? Not that we aren’t all unique snowflakes, each beautiful in our own way, but that doesn’t mean we don’t occasionally want to step it up a bit. Spa treatments, including manicures, pedicures, waxing, tinting, and facials: these are what I’m talking about. I wouldn’t do any of these things on a regular basis, but they can be nice treats! Sadly, they also tend to be pricey treats.
Well, there is a solution, and luckily that solution isn’t melting sugar on your stove and trying to rip it off your leg with a piece of scrap fabric you found in a pile under your bed. Instead, that solution is John Casablanca’s Body Spa.
First of all, yes, I am recommending you have students wax, pluck, tint, and paint your precious body. And just to prove I’m serious about this, I went for it: I went in for a 1/2 leg wax and an eyelash tint. That’s right, I had a student rip hair out of my body and put dye right around my eyes. Why? Because, dear reader, I care about you, and I couldn’t truly recommend getting students to give you spa treatments if I’d wussed out with a manicure (they are far too easily reversible and thus elicit almost no pain or regret). I risked hair follicle and, let’s be honest, my powers of sight, to see if getting beauty treatments from students is really worth it. Spoiler alert: it is!
The procedure felt almost identical to being in an honest-to-goodness spa, with a few notable exceptions:
1) It took longer. This was the main drawback: I was there for 1.5 hours for my two treatments, and we had to rush at the end. If you don’t have a lot of time, this might not be the best bet for you, especially since they seem to only be open during regular working hours.
2) There was an instructor checking in every once and a while. This is a good thing, but of course, doesn’t happen in a fancy spa.
3) The environment was a little more institutional, a little less zen. They did still have private, curtained-off areas for treatments, so you definitely had privacy (minus the instructor check-ins), just no soft colours and untreated wood finishes to add to that calm-factor. Really though, all the equipment and products were also right up there with anything I’ve seen in my limited spa experience, they just didn’t have the fancy-pants decor and pleasant fragrances floating through the air at all times.
4) Perhaps because my esthetician was a student, I felt much more comfortable asking questions than I might in a normal spa. Since I’d never had an eyelash tint done before, I did have some questions in the process, but she knew what she was talking about and answered them all, explaining everything as we went. I certainly felt like I was in good hands.
5) The price! A 1/2 leg wax is $12, and I’ve never seen it for less than $20 anywhere else. The lash tint is $11, and again, a little research tells me that’s generally at least $18-20 as well. Other prices are great as well: manicures are $14, a mani/pedi combo is $32, facials are $30, the list goes on.
Now, I’ll admit that these prices are higher than my general philosophy of $10 or less for Vancouver on the Cheap posts. The reason this makes the cut is because spa treatments are totally voluntary bonuses on every day life, and this really is the cheapest deal you’ll find if you’re not into doing it yourself.
If you’re concerned about putting yourself in the hands of students, I can confidently say that you needn’t fret. They practice on themselves and each other first to make sure they know what they’re doing, are really knowledgable about the procedures (maybe even more so, since all the detailed knowledge is fresh in their minds, as opposed to long-forgotten with bad habits picked up after years on the job), and are very careful. I really felt well taken care of, and the only major difference was the time spent on basic procedures – that’s what tips you off that these are students, not professionals.
The only other thing to keep in mind is that they don’t offer all services all the time. It’s not until a class has learned a service that it’s offered, so if you have something a little more “deluxe” that you’re after, you may not be able to get it whenever you want.
Check out the John Casablanca’s website for more details on pricing and scheduling an appointment. (Heads up: the website’s flash so I can’t link directly to the spa page. Click “Menu”, “Body Spa”, then the cover of the magazine, and “Spa Menu” to find the info you’re looking for. And yes, this is why flash websites are the worst.)
John Casablanca’s Body Spa
220 Cambie Street
NOTE! Vancouver on the Cheap will be on a temporary hiatus for the next month-and-some, making a triumphant return on Friday, April 5th. Thanks for your understanding, and feel free to keep sending me any cheap-living tips you’ve got between now and then.