You could call it a large Korean spa, a water park, a theme park, a European bathing facility, an Asian sauna circuit, spa Disneyland or (my favorite) a spa funhouse. I am talking about Spa Castle in Queens, New York.
It’s nice for a change when Peter talks me into going to a spa – usually it is the other way around. Yesterday when he suggested we trek to Queens (several subways and a van-ride away), to visit Spa Castle I of course said yes!
I had heard about this new huge Korean Spa a while back and read about it in the NewYork Times last May. The article was titled “A Fun House Floating in a Korean Spa”; they showed a few photos and called it “an aquarium for humans.”
Reading about it at the time didn’t entice me to visit, but when I heard Peter’s description after visiting there a few weeks ago with his friend and colleague Kevin Turnbull, our CEO of SpaFinder Europe, I knew I had to experience it.
Here are some of the things he told me about Spa Castle:
- Five stories of spa!
- 60,000 square feet
- Saunas and pools galore
- Indoor/outdoor bathing and eating
- Men, women and kids
It sounded like it was right in line with one of our spa trend predictions for 2008 “hydro and thermal super spa experiences.” And after spending about five hours there yesterday, I would say that it was a perfect example indeed.
Here are a few other aspects of the facility I experienced yesterday which will hopefully give you a picture of Spa Castle and then I will share with you a few of my insider observations:
- 1,200 lockers and sometimes they use them all!
- Sauna circuit
- Mineral salt sauna
- Far-infrared sauna
- Jade sauna
- Color therapy sauna
- Ice land room
- Loess sauna
- Gold sauna
- Bathing pools
- Steam, sauna, exfoliating scrub room, individual grooming area Korean style, four Jacuzzi tubs with various temperatures for both men and women
- Outdoor Hinoki bath
- Outdoor seated hydrotherapy spa
- Outdoor standing hydrotherapy spa
- Kiddie pool
- Water body jet
- Aqua bar
- Water foot jet
- Lavender Esthetic & Beauty Salon (they use Biodroga products)
- Several restaurants
- Sleeping area
- Lounge chairs with personal TV
- Hand and foot massage room
- Gym and yoga studio
Here are the things I found unusual:
- Young children are allowed – and to my surprise it worked out just fine
- Everyone gets a “uniform” of baggy shorts and tops – there is no nudity
- Health food and fun food on several floors – no alcohol anywhere
- Social areas with TV, without TV – that works also
- Clean, clean, clean – although walking into a toilet area barefoot no matter how clean is still tough for me
- Entry fee of $35 during the week and $45 on the weekends – seems very fair
- Offers a simple menu of massages and facials – good prices at about $90/hour with gratuity included
- Open 6:00 a.m. to midnight 365 days a week
Talking to some of the staff during my time there I also learned that:
- In the beginning this place was called Inspa World – however they found out someone else had the trademark Inspa and changed it to Spa Castle. (It looks as if there is an InSpa which owns and operates day spas in the Pacific Northwest. I am also familiar with a company out of London called In:Spa which does unique health retreats.)
- Spa Castle usually has about 500 guests per day during the week and 1,000 guests per day on weekends. Holidays are huge….Christmas Day they had more than 1,800 people attend! Doing a few calculations while estimating their daily revenue, leads me to believe that they probably do revenue of between $25 million – $40 million per year with opportunity to do quite a bit more if they had more things for sale.
- The owner (a Korean gentleman I understand) plans to open an even bigger resort-style-water-park Spa Castle in the Poconos sometime in the future. And there are additional spa funhouses planned around the U.S.
And finally as I left I had two thoughts. First, I really felt much better after my visit – all the scrubbing, bathing, massaging, etc. was very rejuvenating.
Second, although this fairly inexpensive, assembly-line spa experience may not be for everyone, I must tip my hat to the creators who showed a great deal of imagination and creativity. It occurred to me that all of the luxury showplaces I have seen lately (in Las Vegas for example) where they spend gazillions of dollars on decor and ambiance, could really learn a thing or two from this operation. Imagine all the gold and marble and snazzy tile as seen in some of the over-the-top new spas in Las Vegas adding a social scene like they have at Spa Castle with fantastic food options and wow-type hydro and thermal experiences. That high end funhouse might just be a very attractive luxury playhouse. Sign me up!
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