Last week I went for my first visit at Absolute Spa at the Century Plaza Hotel, based on a recommendation from a friend. I was told that for $100 I would receive a 60 minute Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) Massage appointment and as an extra perk it included a signature spa salad (chicken and spinach salad) at the end of the treatment, as well as the use of the pool and other spa amenities. I’ve been to other comparable spas in Vancouver, but one that I have been going to a few times in the past was Spa Utopia at the Pan Pacific Hotel, which costs a bit more at $110 for a 50 minute RMT appointment. However, Spa Utopia offers an excellent discount if you go to Costco and purchase $250 worth of gift cards for only $199.
Here’s my spa showdown review on the two spas, mostly focusing on my visit to Absolute Spa from last week.
Upon arrival of Absolute Spa, I was made to fill out forms, which is a requisite for all spas for first timers. My bf and I were getting massage appointments together, and were greeted by our therapist, who quickly went through where everything was in the spa. However, he did not mention the pool use or the steam room. When I went to Spa Utopia on my first time with my friends, we were introduced to all the amenities of the spa that we could use on leisure.
I was a bit disappointed when I stepped into Absolute Spa’s change room(s). For the women, they had two change rooms. The one near the entrance stairway was a bit smaller, including only one bathroom stall, shower stall and some lockers. The second change room, the main one, had two shower stalls and bathroom stalls and lockers. The lights in the shower stalls in the main change room had burned out so it was quite dark and dim. Instead I went to the front change room to shower due to the lighting. Secondly, I found that the shampoo, conditioner, soap, body lotion, etc did not have descriptions so I was not sure what was in those products. For anyone who has sensitive skin or not comfortable not knowing what the ingredients are in, I would recommend you bring your own products. However, the q-tips, feminine products, and mouthwash as extras was a nice perk. The heated towel rack was also really nice in the change room. In comparison, I still prefer Spa Utopia’s change room, as it was spacious, had 2-3 actual change rooms where the stalls are not used as showers or bathrooms. This allows people who do not want to change in the open to change in private. As well, their lockers are wooden and not like school or workout metal lockers. They also provide more counter amenities such as contact lens solution, one-off use hair ties, professional salon grade hair dryers (Absolute Spa provided hotel hair dryers attached to the wall), curling irons and straightening irons, plus a large counter and seating area for women to really be able to sit down and get ready for a night out after a treatment at the spa.
I spent some time in the Relaxation Lounge before my treatment at Absolute Spa. I really loved that they provide you with cold forehead towels, with 2 slices of cucumber for your eyes that you can place on while relaxing in one of their lounge chairs. They had very comfortable loungers with blankets for you to rest up your feet and cover your legs to not expose yourself from wearing their spa robes. I like Absolute’s cozy lounge more than Spa Utopia’s, as Spa Utopia at Pan Pacific tends to be too busy and not as cozy and quiet. The lounge at Absolute served up coffee, tea and other cold juices/water. It would have been nice if they provided light snacks such as nuts or fresh fruits. At Spa Utopia, they served up tea and juice, but also dried fruits and nuts, as well as fresh fruits such as apples and pears. However, Absolute Spa also has a Spa Cafe, which is where all visitors will be sitting to enjoy a nice salad after their treatments. This is something that Absolute is unique for, and is an added perk to its RMT deal.
As for the massage itself, kudos to my RMT Damien. He was an excellent therapist and really knew how to work out the knots in my back. However, the only gripe was the room. As I know Absolute Spa is an older spa than Spa Utopia, the room was quite noisy. It was hard to relax and enjoy a massage when you can hear sirens from the street (the room faced Burrard Street), talking in the hallways, and a fan from inside the room buzzing. I haven’t experienced this issue at some of the other spas I’ve been to before. The room was also not very fancy for a couples’ room. In comparison, Spa Utopia’s couple massage room is quite nicely designed and quiet.
Final notes on my spa showdown, I really like Spa Utopia’s extra amenities such as the use of Pan Pacific’s rooftop pool and whirlpool, as well as the eucalyptus steam room inside the change room. Their steam room’s eucalyptus smell is quite strong, which I like because it’s very soothing, and they also provide extra facial clothes that have the eucalyptus smell in it. NOTE: Do not place it directly in your face, it will burn your eyes. Absolute Spa also provides the use of the hotel pool, although there is no hot tub/whirlpool. Their eucalyptus steam room felt like a regular steam room as it did not have a strong eucalyptus smell to it.
Overall, I still really enjoyed my massage experience at the Absolute Spa. The extra perk of free parking at the hotel and the salad at the end of the treatment made the $100 RMT massage an excellent deal. However, for the ambiance and the extra little amenities and service, you can pay the extra and really feel pampered and lavished at Spa Utopia at the Pan Pacific.
Absolute Spa at the Century Plaza Hotel is located at 1015 Burrard Street (includes free parking)
Spa Utopia at the Pan Pacific Hotel is located at 1001-999 Canada Place (does not include free parking)