Podcast Episode: OMG. Our Complete Korean Spa Experience
In this podcast episode we share our Korean spa experience, and apparently it was rather different for each of us. Have you ever been to a Korean spa or had an experience you didn’t realize was going to vary greatly due to the culture behind it? We talk about it all, from our favorite spa experiences and features to the step by step process of our first time at the Korean spa.
What you'll find...
Our Complete Korean Spa Experience
In this episode…
1:00 – What we love about spas: relaxation and calm, a break from the kids, calm self care.
2:30 – What is the difference between having a massage and having a health spa experience. Example: just having a therapeutic massage is great, but pairing it with other health practices, such as a hot/cold pool area. Example: goal of relaxation and calm vs deliberate muscle stimulation and manipulation.
6:00 – Before having our Korean spa experience, we were told to just roll with it and let them use their skills. We were advised to keep an open mind and just do the spa activities as directed. We went to the Palace Spa in Federal Way, WA.
7:00 – What to actually expect: complete nudity in certain areas, communal space where everyone is just naked and chillin’ together. This is very different from a standard American spa. The signs are all written in English, Korean and Russian, suggesting that Korean and Russian cultures are much more comfortable and free.
9:00 – Co-ed spa spaces – NO NUDITY here, but just quiet places with neutral/shared space.
10:30 – The Full Body Scrub: this was a big stretch for us. Going one at a time, you are placed on a water-proof table in the buff and AGGRESSIVELY scrubbed and then buckets of water dumped on you. This was very awkward for many reasons.
NOTE: If you are extremely shy or have had personal trauma in the past, this may not be for you. It’s by far the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever done and at no point during the body scrub did I relax or feel comfortable. For me, laying on a table fully exposed while others walked by was too much and not something I can do again.
14:45 – The Korean massage experience is pretty wonderful. It’s very physical and the massage therapist really uses their whole body to apply pressure and torque. There are bars on the ceiling for the therapist to hold onto when they walk on your back. It seems like a combination of massage and chiropractic care.
17:00 – Comparing Asian massage experiences to American massage, the difference are extreme. Both are based very much on science, physiology and intuition, but Korean, Chinese and Thai massage really use moments of intensity and release, vs gradual body work.
19:00 – The many therapy rooms involved in a Korean spa experience:
- Salt Room – a sauna-like room with cleansing/drying properties, full of salt chunks, salt tiles, salt flooring… It’s beautiful and my favorite!
- Clay Room – hotter than the salt room, the clay room is lined with terracotta clay. This is a great room for mediation and relaxation.
- Jewel Room – another warm room with walls covered in amethyst. Absolutely gorgeous and is believed to help alleviate arthritis.
- Ice Room – a very cold room to go to after the many hot rooms. This is part of the hot/cold therapy experience of the Korean spa. Really wonderful way to end!
25:30 – Would we go back for another Korean spa experience? Yes! Neither of us would like to do the body scrub again, but the other elements we both really enjoyed.
27:00 – How to be prepared for an Asian spa experience:
- do not eat before hand
- be open to nudity and remember that we’re all humans
- choose the Korean spa experiences/treatments that are right for you
- remember that it’s okay to be a little uncomfortable, but know your limit and feel empowered to walk away if it’s not right for you.
Thanks for hanging out with us. If you’ve really loved an Asian spa, or specifically Korean spa experience, leave us a comment or a recommendation for the future. We would love to see what other spas that really are a cultural experience are like and to share them. And as always, please let us know if you have any questions!
What do you want to hear about from us on our podcast? Please leave us a comment below or send us a note with your questions and what you’d like to hear. We are excited to share!
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Rob Taylor is the founder of 2TravelDads, the original LGBT Family Travel blog. Focusing on ecotourism and education, 2TravelDads inspires LGBT families (and traditional families also) to go beyond their usual getaways and use travel to learn about and be part of a bigger world. “Traveling the globe and giving the kids a broad worldview.”