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Spa World

I spent a relaxing New Year's Day with some friends at Spa World, a fancy but not expensive Korean-style sauna and bathhouse. Those of us who hadn't been there before—myself included—felt some anxiety about the mandatory nudity in the gender-segregated sauna part of the facility. Hanging out naked with our same-gender friends (or family, or strangers for that matter) has not been part of our range of experience. For an American, it's easy to get the message from society that an "imperfect" body should be covered up, not only in public but also in private. Seeing people blissfully ignorant of that message is refreshing. You probably won't be surprised to read that I found the actual experience comfortable and not difficult to get used to.

The "naked area" there isn't just the saunas (steam and dry) but a bade pool, hot and cool tubs, a "sunflower shower", a heat-radiating stone relaxation area, and a corner where you can get an exfoliating scrub. We spent a good while there before returning to the locker room to don our issued loungewear and head to the main, gender-integrated rest area where families were spread out on the heated floor. We got some refreshments from the juice bar before heading into the poultice rooms, which felt a little redundant to me since I'd already used the saunas in the other part of the facility and was skeptical of the therapeutic benefits attributed to the hot, mineral-lined poultice rooms. I tried out most of them, but after a while I'd had enough heat; I did enjoy the one cold poultice room. The place was quite busy yesterday, so I didn't get a chance to have a massage. Between the facility's restaurant, sleeping areas, 24-hour access, and free wi-fi, I could envision coming at a less-crowded time, perhaps with a book, and making an even more leisurely day of it.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 2nd, 2009 08:16 pm (UTC)
That sounds lovely. My friends in San Francisco took me to a place a bit like that in Santa Cruz once called Kiva. I hadn't really looked for this sort of thing here in DC... not sure why. Glad to know it's there, though.
Jan. 3rd, 2009 02:44 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed it too (until the migraine took over, but the heat seemed to keep it at bay). And I'm certainly with you on enjoying the same-sex "spa" over the mixed-gender sauna rooms. I kinda thought they were fancy saunas, but I guess you could enjoy a book or nap in one of them. I think I'm also going to try to go back at a less busy time - I even go Brian to agree to go at some ungodly hour of the morning/night so that he can enjoy it without the "feeling exposed" part.
Jan. 3rd, 2009 08:35 pm (UTC)
I saw signs forbidding bringing books into the poultice rooms—I'd imagine doing any reading (and 'net usage) in the open rest area.
Jan. 3rd, 2009 08:12 am (UTC)
What makes it Korean style?
Jan. 3rd, 2009 08:32 pm (UTC)
My understand of its Korean-ness comes from this Post article, "A Bathhouse Immersed in Tradition". Of course, if you just wandered in there you'd notice that the owners, staff, and most of the patrons are of Korean descent and all the signs are in Korean and English, but I don't think that would answer your question about what makes it Korean style. The jjimjilbang article on Wikipedia gives an idea of typical features of this kind of place.
Apr. 3rd, 2009 08:37 am (UTC)
Wondering why its sex segregated, and what target audience is
I wonder why the bath house is sex segregated and then mandatory nude. If its okay to not be ashamed of your bodies than why is is sex segregated. As most of the patrons are Korean it may be a cultural issue in korea as Japan.

It seems that target audience was not American. What if a couple wanted to use all the facilities or a boyfriend/girlfriend but was forced to split up.
Feb. 14th, 2011 08:55 pm (UTC)
It's a culture thing. Bath houses in japan are also segregated
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )