Spoil your loved ones silly this Christmas with spa gift cards

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      A gift certificate is like a mass email to friends: it’s a letdown to the one recipient who was expecting something a little more personalized. But not all gift certificates are created equal. True, there are those that say, “You’re at the bottom of my list of priorities, so I left buying your present to the last minute” or “I put zero thought into this present because I’m a lazy sod and you’re not worth the effort.” Or worse: “You’re such a picky bitch, how the hell am I supposed to know what you want?”

      Spa gift certificates, on the other hand, say “You deserve to be pampered. I appreciate you. So take a load off and let me spoil you.” And this year, plenty of local spas and salons are offering special packages for the holidays.

      At Miraj Hammam Spa (1495 West 6th Avenue), for example, if you buy a gift certificate for a traditional Middle Eastern Hammam and Gommage steam and exfoliation treatment with massage (starting at $122) during the month of December, you’ll get a complimentary Moroccan Rhassoul Clay Body Mask, which has a value of $50. It’s the perfect gift for someone who wants a truly exotic spa experience.

      For a more contemporary treatment, the ultra-modern Bella Garnet Beauty Salon (1042 Hamilton Street) is offering a free express manicure or blowout with every $100 gift certificate. So if you’ve got a gal with a special occasion coming up, this is a great option. She could use her gift certificate and bonus treatment in one sitting—maybe a deluxe pedicure with an updo or a luxury cut and some 3-D nail art? And if she wants to do a little pre-gaming while she’s primping, the salon offers a complimentary glass of wine to every client.

      Perhaps a year-round glow would be to your lady’s liking? Skoah (various locations) is offering Skin Gym memberships for $550, which gets you either 12 regular “fitskin” facials (worth $840) or eight deluxe personalized “facialiscious” facials (worth $800). And lemme tell you, they know what they’re doing—clients walk in with dull, winter-ravaged skin and leave with beautiful, radiant complexions. Bonus: the extractions are virtually pain-free!

      Then there’s Willow Stream Spa in the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel (1038 Canada Place), which is offering the “Gift of Relaxation”—essentially a card you can customize with any amount of money or service, including the signature Coastal Mountain Body Wrap. Staff start this 60-minute stress-busting treatment by slathering your body with warm and delicious-smelling maple cocoa shea butter before swaddling you in cozy blankets. While wrapped, you get a heavenly scalp massage. After that, you shower and receive a soothing full-body massage. The best part about this spa is that before any service, you’re free to take full advantage of the facilities, which include roof-top hot tubs, an infrared sauna, and a steam sauna. So make sure the person you give this to makes a day of it. Actually, scratch that—make sure both of you make a day of it. With a couples lounge, this is the perfect way to spend some quality time together.

      If the person you’re buying for is pressed for time, Spruce Body Lab (1128 Richards Street) is a great urban day spa. Start with a 25-minute detoxifying session in the private cedar infrared sauna for $25. Add a quick and rejuvenating service like the 45-minute aromatic, sugar-based exfoliating Lab Scrub treatment ($79), and you’ve got yourself a pretty sweet combo.