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					Relaxation on the go

Written by Brian Cunningham
Saturday, 05 April 2008 05:41

Apr 03 2008 - Mobile spas help take the stress out of de-stressing. For many, coping with
everyday existence means an occasional trip to a day spa. The 21st century's answer to Roman
baths, spas as we know them still offer a multitude of primping and pampering treatments
designed to smooth the rough edges of life. But unlike its precursor, which was a central part of
the daily routine and not just a sporadic luxury, the modern spa has lost the social and
communal atmosphere of the past in favour of a more individual, solitary environment. The
overriding theme at spas is now one of private escape from an increasingly frenetic schedule.
As those schedules become more burdensome, the first thing we tend to sacrifice is personal
time. That is, the more one desperately needs a little spa time, the less likely one is to put that
time aside. Add to that conundrum the hassles of travel time and parking, not to mention the
buzzkill of having to drive home after a deep-tissue massage, and de-stressing can be
distressing itself.

  "We didn't create this niche, but we were one of the first mobile spas in Vancouver," says
Robert Peacock, co-founder of Beauty in Motion. In 2001, Peacock, who describes himself as a
"serial entrepreneur," had an epiphany when his hairstylist girlfriend (now his wife and business
partner) went to a client's home to do her hair. Hardly revolutionary, as many stylists and
makeup artists make house calls, but Peacock saw a market for his mobile-spa concept. "The
business plan stressed convenience without sacrificing luxury," he says. "A branded, full-service
concept meant we needed a team that could deliver a consistent level of accessible luxury, and
the services offered expanded as we added suggestions from our clients."

  Peacock soon realized that the advantage of a mobile spa over a stationary storefront is its
flexibility. "We can literally think outside the box, in that we're not limited by square footage. A
small group, a group of friends, a corporate event or even a large gala event - we can tailor our
services and the size of our team to meet those needs."

  Once a sideline, Beauty in Motion and its 45 affiliated professional service providers has
branched out of Vancouver and over the border, with operations in Portland and Seattle and
further expansion plans underway.

 As demand grew, so did the number of mobile spas. Out of that demand came Pamper Your
Soul, founded in 2003, in the wilds of Coquitlam and Maple Ridge, by aesthetician Maggie
Triantaphylou and spa industry veteran Michelle Chapman. The company's suburban roots

Relaxation on the go

Written by Brian Cunningham
Saturday, 05 April 2008 05:41

(although as a mobile spa, they travel throughout the Lower Mainland) have informed their
business plan to the extent that Pamper Your Soul focuses on the social aspect of the spa
experience rather than the time crunch. "The way Maggie and I see it," says Chapman, "we
want to create a whole new experience with bridal showers, pool parties, and so on. We don't
want to knock any other spa, because spas are important, but we offer a party aspect that they
can't because they're limited by their environment."

 These spa parties make up approximately 75 per cent of Pamper Your Soul's business, but
Chapman and Triantaphylou have begun focusing on corporate clients by promoting the idea of
wellness in the workplace, and offering reflexology and chair massage to office workers of
enlightened companies like radio station 95 Crave and Hilton Vancouver.

  Where Pamper Your Soul deals primarily in groups and celebrations, Vancouver's newest
mobile spa, Pink Mobile Spa (jokingly referred to as PMS in its promotional literature), is
banking on tight schedules. Launched last week by cousins Carman Lau and Bonnie Mah, PMS
is a satellite venture of Lau's Pink Nail Spa, which opened last June. Lau hit on the idea of a
mobile component to her business while still working as an executive assistant to the COO of
Aritzia, Jennifer Wong. "She [Wong] had a gala event to go to that night at 7:30, desperately
needed a pedicure, and had a fully booked day," Lau remembers. I thought, ‘Why don't I just
bring out one of our girls [from Pink Nail Spa]?'" Lau knew that if her boss needed a mobile
service, there had to other "working divas" without the time to slot a spa visit into their busy

 Personal experience as a new mom has uncovered a whole new target market for Lau. "I have
a five-month-old baby, and Bonnie is about a month away from giving birth. At-home mothers
need relaxation more than almost anyone, but to get there you need to pack a whole month's
worth of stuff for the baby. Organizing the trip to a spa can be more stress than its worth. With
our mobile service, you can have a ‘Chocolate Covered Cherry' facial without leaving your baby
or your home."

  While the newest Vancouver trend for the super-rich is to move into luxury hotel/residence
towers with an onsite spa, the rest of us will have to rely on the services of outside contractors
like Peacock, Chapman and Triantaphylou, or Lau and Mah. But with high-end treatments and
professional staff, the only difference we're likely to notice is... well, none.


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