Sunday, August 24, 2008

It's just a perfect day...

Yesterday Nicollette, Christina, Ashley, Erin and I took a field trip out to Flushing, Queens to have a girl's day at Spa Castle. Having seemingly landed in Beijing, rather than the far reaches of New York City, my companions seemed rather surprised (and let's admit it, probably suspicious). While I have spent many a childhood meal eating many dim sum and Chinese banquet meals in Flushing Chinatown, I must say it seems like a dubious location for an ostensible luxury spa. Maybe it's because I work at Happy Ending, a bar that once housed a Chinatown "massage parlor" that famously delivered the "special release," but you can't help but get a little skeptical of the idea of an authentic Asian spa. Nonetheless, after boarding a van and being taken through a long stretch of Korean restaurants and desolate suburban street, we arrived at a 100,000 square foot complex, complete with indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs, saunas, food courts, nap rooms, and of course, an array of spa and massage treatments. For the flat price of $45 ($35 on weekdays), you get access to all of the facilities, paying extra for treatments, massages, and food. The entire concept is based on bath houses that they have all over Korea and the rest of Asia.

The spa has at least 10 different saunas, including an authentic Finnish-style steam sauna, where I tried to replicate the sauna experience I had at my friend Aapo's country house in Finland: sweating for as long as you can take it in the extraordinarily hot sauna, before plunging into a body of icy cold water (in Finland a freezing lake, and in this case, a 59 degree cold bath). They also have a smurf-village configuration of somewhat less authentic saunas, such as "Ice Land," a cold sauna, "Jade Sauna", a sauna housed in an agate lined igloo, "Gold Sauna," which is lined in gold foil, and a "Color Therapy" sauna where you can change the lighting according to your mood. Violet, for example, is supposed to promote creativity, but I just chose it because it looks pretty.

However, the most rejuvenating part of the entire experience was stepping under "The Waterfall," which rapidly pours gallons of water onto you like its namesake, is brutally akin to being hosed down by the police, yet also provides a sadistically pleasurable massage that leaves you aching afterwards.

We finished the day in Women's section, which we affectionately labeled "The Naked Section" (sorry, no pictures provided), where there is absolutely no room for modesty. Even if it's not for the shy, it is probably the most relaxing place in the entire spa, sheltered from the large crowds and screaming children that pack the outdoor pool areas.  That is, unless you're Christina, and get anxiety attacks from being surrounded by frolicking naked people.

None of us had any massages, and there definitely weren't any happy endings, but we all had a relaxing day trip and a perfect day, for much cheaper than any spa a quarter of Spa Castle's size back in the homeland, Manhattan. We will most definitely be back, and Spa Castle is the one thing that makes me look forward to winter, when I plan on doing some jacuzzi in the snow.


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