Archive for December, 2014

Goegan Spa

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Sitting Pretty at London Landing

Goegan_Spa_Candice_Steveston_Palla_MediaOn a sunny autumn morning I arrived at Goegan Spa to meet with owner Candice Goegan. Candles were lit and the subtle fragrance drifted through the airy spa. Like her peaceful surroundings, Goegan projects both warmth and calm along with a nice balance of vivaciousness.

The walls are painted in soothing tones of creamy beige, teal and dark brown, chosen to represent sand, waves, wood and stones on a tranquil beach. White is also utilized to represent the clean and sanitized environment, which is so important when searching for a reputable spa.

The spa is located in the London Landing neighbourhood of Steveston, which is currently expanding with residences and retail going in across the street at The Pier development.

“Growth in the area is a perk for all local businesses,” Goegan says. Many of her existing clients are locals and she looks forward to introducing her spa to new residents. Her client base mainly stems from excellent word of mouth and from business directed her way through gift certificate sales.

Goegan always knew this would be her career path. As a little girl she started “painting” her dolls’ nails with pens. By the time she was in high school she began working part-time as a receptionist at a spa. Upon graduating, she trained as an esthetician at Blanche MacDonald Centre.

When asked how she feels about coming to work each day she enthusiastically replies, “I love it! It doesn’t feel like work. It feels like I am getting together with friends to share recipes and travel tips.”

Goegan_Spa_nails_Steveston_Palla_MediaGoegan works alongside Vivian Bui and a receptionist. Both estheticians administer all treatments the spa offers. She derives satisfaction from making people look great and feel more self-assured. It is rewarding to help men and women achieve and maintain beautiful skin.

In the early years, after her daughter Nicole (10) was born, Goegan operated a home-based business. In November 2008, with the assistance of her parents, Deborah and Mike Goegan, she opened Goegan Spa. Deeply appreciative of her parents’ ongoing support, she says her mother assists with interviews, and attends spa management courses. Her father will also lend a hand with maintenance at the spa when needed.

She says, “I feel grateful my business has continued to grow, considering it opened during a very challenging economic time.”


Goegan points out that taking on both roles as a business owner and an esthetician “can definitely be challenging at times but I feel it makes me a well rounded owner who understands many sides of what it takes to run a successful spa.”

Moving into a new building allowed her to design the space to suit her needs. This included incorporating a spacious lobby with stations for manicures and makeup application. In addition, three private treatment rooms are used for massage, skin care, foot care, body care and professional hair removal.

The day I visited Goegan Spa an older woman arrived, enthused, as it was her very first visit to a spa. This is something we (both women and men) need to do more often, take the time to care for ourselves and leave behind daily stresses.

Goegan_Spa_product_Steveston_Palla_MediaThe spa sells many sought-after product lines such as OPI nail products, Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics, Guinot France skin care, Australian Tea Tree Body Care, Gehwol foot care, Creative Nail Design, and Cosmecology Pairs (made by Guinot) which is a good line of products for someone new to skin care, including teenagers.

Numerous spa pack-ages are available to pamper any princess, queen or king. The Island Princess (for ages 13 and under) is an express one-hour pedicure and manicure. The two and a half hour King of the Castle package includes a back massage, classic pedicure and hydraclean deluxe facial. For the ultimate spa experience block off five and a half hours of indulgent me time – The Pampered Head To Toe experience features a stone therapy massage, hydradermie facial, spa manicure and pedicure, and light mineral makeup application.
Daily specials are posted on the informative website and include: Tootsie Tuesdays, Waxing Wednesdays, Therapeutic Thursdays, and Facial Fridays. The spa is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Goegan Spa is a busy destination year round. Manicures and pedicures are always popular. Gel polish and manicures require regular attention and clients will stop in every two weeks for maintenance. The winter holiday season is a popular time for clients to pamper themselves in preparation for parties.

Mark your calendar! On Wednesday December 10 (6 to 8 p.m.) Goegan Spa is holding a holiday customer appreciation night with specials on products and gift certificate sales for Christmas.

Goegan_Spa_exterior_Steveston_Palla_MediaFinding a gift certificate from Goegan Spa under the Christmas tree with your name on it would definitely be a wonderful present – and highly appreciated in the New Year when the hectic holidays have come to a grand finale.

Goegan Spa
135-6231 London Road
Richmond BC V7E 3S3
Telephone 604-241-4556

The Sweet Spot

Friday, December 5th, 2014

A Taste of Europe in Steveston Village

Sweet_Spot_tarts_Steveston_Palla_MediaPeeking through the window at the display case filled with tempting pastries and savouries is a regular occurrence at The Sweet Spot. In fact, owners Kirsten Degenhardt and Keiran Flaherty regularly find themselves wiping away the tell tale signs of fingerprints on the First Avenue window.

It is no wonder that people are eager to sneak a peek at the offerings inside the bakery. This little spot, which opened four years ago, has earned a glowing reputation and has garnered five out of five stars on Trip Advisor, along with an overflow of first class reviews from fans on other internet websites.

People are hooked on the extensive selection of patisserie (mousses, eclairs, cakes, tarts), Viennoiserie (croissants, Danishes and brioche), savouries (scones, quiche and daily sandwiches), and the array of other baked goods (madeleines, biscotti and their extremely popular chewy coconut macaroons).

The Sweet Spot bakery has been described as “the best outside of France.” These words are echoed by customers who yearn for a taste of food from their homeland or those who simply appreciate fine food.

Sweet_Spot_Degenhardt_Flaherty_Steveston_Palla_MediaDegenhardt and Flaherty are very modest, however they are flattered to hear people say their creations rank alongside respected Vancouver establishments such as Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Café and Thomas Haas.

In addition to the heavenly baked goods, you will find frozen meals to go. This is your chance to take home some outstanding entrees ranging from comfort food favourites such as macaroni and cheese, potpies and
meatballs, to gourmet fare. The menu is always changing; they like to keep things interesting for themselves and for their customers. On a given day you may look inside the freezer and find butter chicken, coq au vin, lamb shanks or cassoulet.

The freezer is also stocked with tasty soups, and again these are made in rotation. I spotted cream of cauliflower and smoked cheddar, lentil and bacon, and roast turkey and vegetable soup.

The Sweet Spot also creates house-made ice cream. One customer will purchase eight to 10 tubs of creamsicle at a time. Passion fruit, maple walnut, French vanilla and carrot cake were also available when I had a look. The chefs’ promise that winter ice creams will include gingersnap and eggnog flavours.

Everything about The Sweet Spot is teeny tiny. The front sales area is compact, and has four window seats where you can stop and eat a treat and drink a cup of Salt Spring Coffee or locally made Raintree Tea (from Steveston’s Raintree Wellness Spa).

Sweet_Spot_interior1_Steveston_Palla_MediaBehind the scenes the kitchen is equally small. An asset is the large window facing Chatham Street that lets in natural light. Degenhardt and Flaherty work around the space seamlessly sharing only one stove and wall oven. This requires careful coordination to ensure that they each accomplish their daily checklist.

Degenhardt had always loved to bake as a hobby, however her original career was in the travel and tourism industry. Fourteen years ago she decided to transform her hobby into a career and enrolled at Dubrulle Cooking School. She received her Red Seal as a pastry chef and has never looked back.

Flaherty has been acquainted with kitchens the majority of his life. As a young teenager he worked as a dishwasher at Earls and worked his way up the ranks working with some of Vancouver’s top chefs at Moustache Café and West.

The business partners met while working at Opus Hotel in Yaletown where Flaherty was chef de cuisine and Degenhardt was pastry chef. Wishing to unite their skills and their love for good food, they opened The Sweet Spot in November 2010. With Flaherty’s wealth of knowledge on the savoury side and Degenhardt’s years of experience with pastry, their dream was to create a unique gourmet shop filled with quality products.

When asked if they would consider expanding their business the partners resoundingly said no. They are happy with the location, and find the size to be very manageable.

Sweet_Spot_cookies_Steveston_Palla_MediaTheir long workdays begin at 5:30 a.m. and they often do not leave until 6:00 p.m. The bakery is open five days a week (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays). In addition to food preparation they also package and label products, and Degenhardt manages the bookkeeping.

Both owners are very grateful to their supportive and loyal customers. Their dedicated staff, Helena and Wendy, shares a wealth of product knowledge. Degenhardt and Flaherty attempt, whenever possible, to come out and say hello to their clients.

They share kind words about the supportive neighbouring businesses that work together to introduce customers to one another’s shops.

Weekends are a busy time at The Sweet Spot. This is when brioche makes its weekly appearance and is often snapped up, along with plenty of other goodies, well before noon.

The holidays are almost here. The chefs remind customers to submit orders as far in advance as possible. What can you expect to see on the menu? Bûche de Noël, tourtière (frozen to take home), and stollen that they describe as, “less classic, more bready, fruity, brushed with brandy and butter.”

Sweet_Spot_interior2_Steveston_Palla_MediaThe next time you pass by the corner bakery you may very well see Degenhardt and Flaherty hard at work in their kitchen. This is where they are fulfilling their dream and also making a dream come true for many food lovers. Lucky Steveston.

The Sweet Spot Bakery
110-12000 First Avenue
Richmond BC V7E 3L9
Telephone 604-271-8865

A Tale of Two Airports

Friday, December 5th, 2014

I recently set off on a Disneyland adventure with my family, which commenced with a few hair-raising twists and turns the day before we departed. With a sudden onset of an eye infection both of my poor peepers looked and felt like nothing I had seen before. It was severe enough that the doctor who treated me advised I stay home and rest, but with Mickey Mouse calling my family south that was out of the question.

And thus began the saga of the trip to Disneyland. I confess that in addition to the pain, I felt self-conscious and I likely looked highly suspicious wearing a baseball cap at YVR at such an early hour of the morning. I would have worn sunglasses too, but it was long before sunrise and I knew that would not go over well.

I was not at all thrilled to have to remove my cap to go through security, as this was my shield to protect my sore eyes from the painful exposure to light. The customs inspector was less than impressed with my hat and I reluctantly removed it to allow him to compare my face with my passport photo.

What better destination to be headed in my time of desperation than California, a land where sunglasses and hats are practically prerequisites? If I did happen to remove my glasses my puffy eyes looked like I had either had a little work done, or I had spent too many hours in an overly chlorinated swimming pool.

I kept a stiff upper lip during the long days of pounding the pavement between the two Disney theme parks. We shared lots of laughs, and a few screams induced both by the rides and by my eyes, which horrifically glowed in the dark under the black lights due to the antibiotic eye drop I had been prescribed.

Day by day my eyes slowly improved and I felt comfortable shedding my disguise. I had originally been concerned that young children and even adults would run screaming in terror, but as time passed my mantra became ‘what happens in Disneyland stays in Disneyland,’ and who really cares?

The day we left we were seated in the departure lounge at Gate 27 in LAX’s Terminal 2. I decided my family would appreciate a couple of Hershey bars on the flight home and I snuck away to the snack kiosk to make my purchase.

While the petite older cashier (who up until that point had been very unassuming) was handing me back my change she suddenly said, “Stay beautiful and strong, fearless and brave. Woman power.” I was incredibly moved by this spontaneous and restorative sentiment from a clerk who was offering me something well beyond standard airport kiosk dialogue such as, “So, where are you headed today?” In fact, we had not engaged in any conversation other than the fact that I owed $3.15 for my purchase.

Her words are not something often heard; yet this woman was a wise messenger. It was a powerful moment, one that I will not forget, and a fitting conclusion as she spoke to my weakened self who had departed from YVR several days earlier and was now returning home healed, full of wonderful family memories, wearing a new Mickey Mouse t-shirt and in the possession of some sage advice from a kind stranger.