I am a spa treatment junkie. I can easily spend hours at the Red Door, and every cruise I have taken has been peppered with almost daily spa visits. I love that I struggle to find a "new" treatment to do on the ship. Alas, I am not made of cash, so spa trips are usually few and far between, which leaves me always craving more.
But all my spa experience has been very American. Big fuzzy robes, waiting areas with fat sparkly fashion magazines, no talking between patrons, everyone is well covered most of the time, and treatments are scheduled with someone leading you around from spot to spot. And each "station" is super expensive to boot.
How have I missed the Korean bathhouse experience? How could it have taken me so long to discover and dive in to this idea? I spent way less than $100, and had a solid 5 hours at the spa last night. Holy cow - this whole thing was not only superbly relaxing and rejuvenating, but a bit cathartic as well.
So the naked factor is probably the biggest difference between American spas and gyms and this Korean spa. I'm used to locker rooms and changing areas where most people are being fairly discreet about changing. Not that they are always covered, but no one is really prancing around sans clothes. When you walk into the bathhouse locker room, it is odd to see anyone with any coverage whatsoever. OK, so it's a locker room. Whatever. But the pool and saunas and scrub areas are nude as well. That took a bit of getting used to.
As strange as this was for me, it was also really comforting to see so many real women's bodies in one space. To see this mass nakedness highlights the absurdity of what the media leads us to expect about what we should look like in a whole different and more compelling way. To see moms, daughters and friends, of all shapes, colors and sizes, sitting and talking while in the pool jets, or doing a scrub, or hanging out in the sauna was refreshing.
And oh! the many things to do to get you totally chill! The pool has like 10 stations with jets to different muscle groups, and the water pressure is hard - like so hard that you have to hold on to a bar so you don't get flung across the pool. There are hot tubs, cold tubs, saunas, and a scrub area. You can do your own scrub but since I have no clue of what I am doing, I signed up for a 30 minute scrub. It was relaxing and scary, painful and revealing, surprising and glorious all at the same time. I thought my skin might bleed, but I left with my whole body softer than it has been in many moons. I actually can't stop feeling it.
Once out of the pool, I got on my spa-issued orange jumpsuit (a little strange) and checked out the rest of the place. I laid in hot hot hot rooms that probably detoxified every pore in my body from the last 20 years of crap that they had been dealt. To finish it all off, a few minutes in the cold room - really quite icy cold although it was only in the 50's in there - to "seal in the benefits". There is a restaurant, fitness center, nail salon, and a few other spots that I missed on this visit.
Will I go back? Oh yeah. I am hugely calm today with a healthier body image than a few short hours ago. All for a little cash and time. Yes, this is my big new thing.