When Louise Dannhauer and her sisters opened Spa Time in Tsawwassen nearly two decades ago, the idea of going to a spa on a regular basis was really "unheard of." These days, the words "spa" and Sunny Tsawwassen seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly, but in 2001 it was something you might do once a year.
"It was really just a gift or a treat," explains Louise. "Things have changed a lot in the twenty-something years that I've been in the industry and a lot of the treatments that people have now are necessities rather than just a way to treat yourself or pamper yourself."
At the time, Louise already had extensive experience in the spa industry, working full-time as an esthetician and instructing students at Blanche MacDonald. With her sisters Niamh Fahl and Ailish Wallace also working in esthetics, the trio decided to open the business in the town where they grew up.
The first incarnation of Spa Time was located in the Tsawwassen Town Centre Mall, but three years later they moved into their now permanent digs across the street where the larger space has allowed them to operate with 10 staff members and provide up to three private rooms at once.
Spa Time's services include the usual manicures, pedicures, massage treatments, facials and micro needling, but it sets itself apart from the crowd by being the most experienced anti-aging services spa in town.
"We have the holistic approach with our hot stone massages, and in particular our Thai massage, which is very much a holistic treatment. But I think generally we do focus a little more of our business on the anti-age aspect of esthetics."
Louise says that as people age they want to continue to look and feel their best, not just on the outside but inside as well.
So, why is it that the proliferation of spas has exploded since the Spa Time sisters opened their doors so many years ago? Louise thinks it has something to do with the fact that the industry was deregulated in 2004, meaning people could get into esthetics without having to go to school and become accredited.
That's why Louise says she takes professional development so seriously. Not only does she require all of her staff to be properly trained, she herself is a skin and body therapy instructor at Vancouver Community College, helping the next generation of estheticians start off on the right foot.
As well, Louise is busy pursuing her Master's in Education at Simon Fraser University.
With all that time spent in the big city, it begs the question: why run a business in a smaller market like Tsawwassen? Louise says part of it involves the fact that her family grew up here and her high school friends still live in town. But there's more to it than that.
"It's a bit more difficult in Vancouver to get the loyalty, not only from the community but also from the staff. Tsawwassen is, for the most part, people of this community, who want to support local businesses. They understand what that means for a community to continue to thrive, that we have to support each other."
Louise says it doesn't hurt that Tsawwassen is also a beautiful "outdoor community" with the ocean nearby and the ability to walk to work. That quality of life can't be beat without visiting a spa.
Spa Time is located on the northeast side of 12 th Avenue and 56th Street, under the vaulted glass outdoor ceiling.