On the Road: SpaBar

Patricia Oropeza gives her feet a much-needed break at SpaBar

Long Beach, Calif. - Patricia Oropeza, managing editor - after spending two days walking the ISSE Long Beach show floor my feet were in need of some serious TLC. After the show I treated at SpaBar, located a few miles from the convention center where the show was held.

SpaBar is in a busy shopping center surrounded by a bookstore, restaurants, and a movie theater. That prime location was a big reason why owners Helen Pham and Patrick Tons decided to open for business in 2002. The two were looking for a middle-class area, one where clients would appreciate their reasonable prices. Pham wanted clients to feel like they were getting pampering, high-quality services without having to drive miles away to a ritzy day spa charging outrageous prices.

Four years later SpaBar is busier than ever. So busy in fact that Tons and Pham are planning on opening two locations in California later this year, including one in Carlsbad that’s being built from the ground up.

Besides the loving prices, clients most likely keep coming back to the spa because the services and customer service are both high quality. If a client isn’t happy with a service, Pham will not only offer that service free of charge, she’ll also offer the client a gift certificate for another complimentary service.

The decor also plays a big factor in the spa’s repeat business. Tons calls the spa’s look fusion of Asian and art deco. When clients first walk in they’re surrounded by a retail area offering items such as candles, polish, and professional skin care products. Flower arrangements are visible throughout and warm, neutral colors help male clients feel at ease. That’s important because men make up 35% of the spa’s clientele.

The nail area takes up front portion of the spa. Two pedicure areas, including one where pedicure parties are frequently held, and a circular manicure area in the middle of the spa make up this area. Currently the spa has eight nail techs, who are all on commission. Of those eight, two specialize in nail enhancements. Most of the clientele prefer the natural look. In addition to nails, the spa also offer facials, waxing, and massage.

After getting my pedicure, I know why clients keep coming back. I had the Pedicure Facial, a special service Pham has been offering a few months and plans to add to her service menu later this year. Pedicures are the spa’s most popular nail service. Pham’s reasoning is the face and body shouldn’t be the only ones to benefit from great products. Hands and feet are just as important and shouldn’t be treated with just as much care.

Jasmine Corral, a nail tech who has been at SpaBar for five months, applied several body products on my legs and feet, including a great-smelling masque. Then she wrapped them in plastic and cover them in towels. When she removed the masque a few minutes later, my legs and feet smelled, felt, and looked great. That was followed by a French pedicure, which I’ve never had before (I know, I know I work on NAILS and hadn’t had a French Pedicure before.) I couldn’t stop starring at my feet. Lucky for me, SpaBar is fairly close to where I live, so I’ll be stopping by again for sure.

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