Hawaiian Beach Tanning Salon, most popular tanning salon in South Delta BC, Mystic Tan, spray tan, indoor tanning, infrared sauna
Tel 604.946.1611
4814 Haviland St, Ladner, BC

Smart Tan Canada March 2012
Member Of The Month

Hawaiian Beach Tanning Salon is delighted to announce that our Owner,
John Holmes, was selected to be the Member Of The Month by Smart Tan Canada, in their March 2012 issue.

Please click here to download the full article in PDF format.


Entrepreneurial Spirit

For All Of Canada
By Smart Tan

For almost 40 years, John Holmes has been an avid businessman. Back then, he worked for Shell Oil doing advertising and sales promotion. His career was on track, which meant future transfers to Winnipeg then possibly Toronto. But concern for the effects on his family made him decide to go another way.

“At my age, I decided I didn’t want to end up there with my four kids. They were all into hockey and figure skating,” says Holmes.

Instead, Holmes bought an automotive service station and started up several convenience stores. Once again, change was on the horizon – and it wasn’t working in his favour. The landlord for his auto shop discussed raising the rent to what Holmes considered an “intolerable level” so he decided to look at other options.

At the time, his oldest son seemed to be doing well with a tanning salon, which inspired his youngest son to enter a partnership for his own salon. Holmes agreed to finance his son’s portion of the partnership, but things didn’t go as planned. The other partner backed out of the deal after Holmes already verbally negotiated with the salon’s current owner. While he was on holiday, his son decided to refocus his efforts in the nightclub business – the salon deal seemed to go bust. But, like a true entrepreneur, Holmes saw an opportunity to enter the tanning industry himself.

Instead of walking away, he made the bold decision to venture into an industry he did not know for the sake of making good on his word with the owner. “I made a moral commitment to this lady by asking her to give me the fi rst offer for the business, if she decided to sell. I didn’t feel right backing away from it,” says Holmes.


In 1998, Holmes took over Hawaiian Beach Tanning and immediately made it his mission to make it a success. Previously, the salon had six or seven rooms, but only three had beds. Holmes was eager to bring more equipment into the salon, which quickly paid off.

“We got so busy that we had to do some remodelling,” says Holmes. “We were splitting rooms in half to make room for the vertical beds. We loved seeing people so happy.”

It got to the point where the salon was experiencing enough traffic that an expansion was in order. When Holmes got word that space next door was available, he jumped on the opportunity to claim it. Not long after, the location was his.

What people want always seems to be on the forefront of Holmes’s mind. So, as the salon became bigger, he didn’t rely on that alone to make the salon better. Taking note of the small things has helped the salon come a long way.

“We try to upgrade the feeling people have about us,” says Holmes. “I thought, ‘how can I make it obvious that we care every time they walk in?’”

After dwelling on his personal experiences with little luxuries, Holmes decided that the bathrooms could make a big statement about the salon. His salon attendants make sure to fold the toilet paper into a point and remove splash marks from the mirror throughout the day. Using quality toiletries and diffusing a clean scent have helped make this small space clean and inviting.


Much like when Holmes owned his auto service station and convenience stores simultaneously, he felt that it was important to provide a wide range of services and diversify his revenue sources.

Hawaiian Beach Tanning was the fi rst salon in Canada to offer a mystic sunless spray booth and it has remained a successful part of the business ever since. He was heralded in his community for offering a UV free alternative to tanning.

“I like to be at the sharp end of things rather than a follower,” says Holmes.

In 2006, Holmes added another first: an infrared sauna. “I saw a lot of potential when I put in the infrared sauna,” says Holmes. “There wasn’t anything like it in the area, so I could create a niche for it.” Athletes and people going through physical therapy enjoyed the relaxation and relief they could get from the unit’s dry heat. Holmes made sure that the sauna room felt like a little oasis by painting a scene of cactuses and the Grand Canyon. At the end of their session, customers are given a water bottle with the Hawaiian Beach logo and information on it, a tactic that creates the potential for salon exposure as the clients take the bottle with them when they leave.

But in May 2010, Holmes added body vibration to the growing list of services available – a move that would revolutionize the culture of his salon.

“We put in the body vibration machines to appeal to another section of the population that wasn’t necessarily tanning,” says Holmes. “I put two in the front sales room so they are visible to everyone. “By the time I returned from holiday, my staff told me we needed to buy more.”

Holmes had the idea to give clients a free trial on the machine. By placing them in the lobby he was able to use these trials as advertising to passers-by and clients waiting in the lobby. Very quickly, the service took off. After adding two more machines to the sales room, the vibe surrounding the service became very social as women chatted away while they vibrated into better health. Best of all, his “jiggle machine” clients were in a prime location to witness the results of his happy tanners.

“A lot of the older people see young people come out of the rooms happy and tan, and they consider starting to tan again,” says Holmes.

This tactic also helped create a buzz when Holmes added red light therapy to the menu a few months ago. The social atmosphere in the lobby was a huge advantage as the clients talked about their results. “It’s a big ticket item compared to our tanning beds,” says Holmes. “It’s time-consuming but when our customers are on the vibration machines, they see people come out and have conversations about losing their wrinkles.”


But, Holmes knows that nothing sells itself – he gives major credit to his staff. Their skill and knowledge is essential, but it’s their positive attitude that makes customers feel at home. “They have got to have fun,” says Holmes. “They laugh and joke with customers and enjoy coming back to work.”

The Hawaiian Beach salon staff is well-trained, beginning with a regiment of Smart Tan training modules. “Smart Tan is absolutely essential in training people,” says Holmes. “It’s by far the best training they could possibly get in this industry. We fashion ourselves after Smart Tan.”

In addition to any in-salon training employees receive, they also go to as many of the local seminars as possible, including symposiums by Carole Baggerly “the Breast Cancer Survivor.”

“The staff was staggered by what Carole Baggerly had to say. Hers is a hard-hitting presentation – it’s not drumming the same message in a different way,” says Holmes.

He even makes a point to take selected staff to Vegas and Nashville for conventions to better their knowledge of the industry. “You get exposure to dozens of brilliant operators,” says Holmes. “You learn so much just by rubbing shoulders.”


Holmes is always looking for ways to bring attention to the salon. The most effective method Holmes has implemented is participating in community events. Whether it’s a local fundraiser for the Delta Museum, Little House Society, food bank, sports team or a business association meeting, Holmes always does his best to be there.

“Be there, be seen, be seen often,” says Holmes. “That’s what we do.” In the summer, there is a village market where Hawaiian Beach sets up a booth every year. They are even known for bringing out body vibration machines for people to try.

In addition, Holmes has agreed to sponsor his local Tier 1 hockey team: The Vancouver Giants. The idea came to him after seeing his sons – who moved away to play hockey – treated like royalty. He decided to give the players tanning for free. Now the coach and his wife come in, and people know the Giants tan there. The sponsorship has successfully created brand awareness with a variety of people.


Hawaiian Beach is also a great example of forging relationships with political and media figureheads as well as the Health Department. Holmes has dedicated time to communicating with influential people in his community for the benefit of the tanning industry.

“I booked a half hour with our local member of the legislative assembly. She already knew me from the fundraisers and things I attend to help the Community,” says Holmes.

But the short meeting blossomed into a deeper discussion: “Two hours later, we finished such a good talk that benefits our industry. She extended the meeting because she was so interested,” says Holmes. “She sees how we contribute to the community – they want people to do that!”

The most successful advertising for Hawaiian Beach has been in two local newspapers. By placing ads with them regularly – including recent full-page ads to promote red light therapy – Holmes has developed a beneficial relationship with the local media and appreciates their interest.

“I got a lovely write-up when the pharmaceutical companies were lobbying local government. One of the papers had a negative article from some dermatologists,” says Holmes. “So [the newspaper] called me and asked if I would like to have a rebuttal. They showed me what was going to be printed ahead of time to do a meaningful rebuttal.”

The ability to reach the community with a different message about sunlight was a huge benefit that didn’t cost a dime, all because he was in regular contact with these people.

“In the next issue they are going to do a write up on red light therapy. This is the kind of help and support we get when we work with these people,” says Holmes.


Business is defi nitely picking up as Hawaiian Beach moves into busy season with the addition of red light. But Holmes isn’t content to rely on one thing to make his business successful – like any smart businessman, he makes it a priority to diversify.

Building on the success of the vibration machines, Holmes has decided to replace one of the under-performing UV units with a small fitness room. To more appropriately reflect the tone of his developing business, Holmes has changed their slogan to “We are sunshine and fitness.” A larger vibration unity, elliptical, treadmill, spin cycle and more to give clients better options to feel and look better.

While Holmes believes that adding a second location may become more of a priority down the road, his firm grasp on what makes a successful salon allows him to keep developing his original store even after many years in business.

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4814 Haviland St, Ladner, BC, V4K 3V3, BC, Canada  Phone: 604.946.1611
Open Monday-Friday 9am-8pm; Saturday 9am-6pm; Sunday 10am-6pm

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