What to Know Before You Visit Spa World
My old friend spent a year in Japan. He spoke often of the spa services there, which were very health-oriented compared to the luxury slant we Americans associate with the “spa.” After he returned to the states, he went to Spa World to get his fix. This 50,000 square foot facility is located in Centerville in Northern Virginia and is open 24/7. It’s been on my health and travel wish list for some time. Finally, me and two of my cousins decided to put a date on the calendar. We didn’t do very much research before went, so I’m sharing some of the details here. There were some awkward and confusing moments, and I’m laying them out here so you can create a stress-free and rejuvenating day at Spa World. If you’re within a few hours driving distance, I recommend making the trip at least once, if not repeatedly.
Cost Break Down
It costs $45 to access the pools and pumice rooms all day long. Get there early to use your investment wisely. We arrived at 10 a.m. and that worked perfectly. We left around 5 p.m. Pay additional fees for spa services. I suggest the Spa Special, which is only $125 (more on that below). Bring another $20-30 for food or smoothies. That’s a $200 total investment that’s worth it.
Spa World is split into two gender-specific areas. This is where the pools, your spa services, and traditional saunas are. There is a co-ed area where the poultice rooms, a cafe, and a restaurant area. Here, there are also couches and an open floor for relaxing with friends, cooling down between poultice rooms and even napping.
Yes. You’re Naked. All the way.
The gender-specific spa areas require all guests to remove all clothing. Everyone has to be completely naked. This apparently helps keep the pools sanitary. I also think it levels the playing field. If only some women were naked, they may feel vulnerable. If everyone is naked, it normalizes the situation a little more. It was only vulnerable for me and cousins for the first few minutes. Then you realize everyone is naked. Then you just kind of roll with it. It’s totally liberating.
Yes. Everyone is wearing an orange outfit.
When you check in, you’ll be issued an orange top and shorts. This is to wear to the co-ed poultice rooms, restaurant and cafe. So, when you leave the Bade Pool area, which is attached to your locker room, head back to your locker to put these on. You’ll feel silly for a bit. Yet again, though, you’ll get comfortable quickly when you see everyone else wearing them. It honestly helps desexualize the whole experience. No one is checking anyone out. You don’t feel vulnerable at all. You can focus on relaxing and connecting with your friends.
If you plan it right, you’ll be here all day. Spa World has water coolers around the common area, but they only have small paper cone cups. You’ll need to hydrate throughout the day. You can bring a water bottle anywhere and fill it up at these water coolers. You’ll feel much better at the end of the day if you hydrate well.
Get the Spa Special
If you’ve ever paid for a professional massage or body scrub, then you probably assume this is expensive. It’s not. The Spa Special is 85 minutes long and costs $125. You get a deep tissue massage, body scrub, facial massage and mask, a scalp massage and hair wash. I mean, you practically shine afterwards. For the money, it’s worth it. A few warnings and tips:
- This is walk-in only.
- You make the appointment and pay in your locker room, not at the front desk.
- You are naked during the entire thing. You will feel a little exposed.
- You’re not in a private room, you’re out in the open behind a shoulder-width wall in the Bade Pool room. You’re next to a row of other women who are getting the same services.
- They throw warm water on your as they slough dead skin off during the body scrub and after the oil massage. It startles you at first, but then you start to love it.
- They are a little rough with the body scrub and massage. Don’t expect them to gently lay your head down after they massage your neck. Don’t expect them to baby you. They are getting some serious work done with extreme efficiency. This is what makes it worth while. I’ve never had a massage get my target areas more than once. They also massage areas you wouldn’t even think of including your stomach.
- There are private massage rooms offering other types of massage services, but we did not use those.
Try the ice bath.
Along the back corner of the Bade Pool room (at least in the women’s layout), there is an ice bath. I was pretty scared of this. I’ve heard many claims about cold therapy It helps with swelling, inflammation, stress and depression. I wanted to try it out finally. We sat in one of the hot tubs for a bit until we couldn’t stand the heat. We got out and stepped into the ice bath. I didn’t make it past my belly the first time. We went back to the hot tubs and then back into the ice bath. A woman stepped in and she slowly submerged everything but her head and encouraged us to the same. I took her confidence and made it my own. It was shocking at first, but eventually you relax and succumb to the feeling. I felt every little bit of fat and skin tighten up. I also felt awakened mentally. It was meditative. I would leave this towards the end of my stay next time I visit so I leave feeling slim and alert.
Learn which poultice rooms will be the most beneficial for you
There are seven poultice rooms all together. You can see a list of them here. Each one has different benefits for the body. I wish my cousins and I had researched ahead of time which ones to target. I recommend taking a peep into all of them, but to maximize your visit you should decide what you want your body to get out of it. Spend more time in those rooms.For example, the salt room is great for female related challenges like irregular periods. The amethyst rooms generates new energy in the body.
You’ll notice there are a few good photos in this post. Those are from Spa World. Only some of these photos are mine. Yes, the crappy ones. You cannot take photos in the locker room or Bade Pool area. I was yelled at for just taking a photo of my orange jumpsuit in there. Women are naked, so you have to respect their privacy. You can take photos in the poultice rooms, but I felt silly doing that. Everyone’s trying to zen out or connect with their buddies. Keep your phone in your locker as much as you can. You’ll appreciate it.
Consider bringing your own reading and beauty supplies
We saw women who brought nail polish, face masks and more. They set up in the locker rooms for their own spa day. You could save money on spa services and have some fun like this. I still recommend splurging for the spa services. We also saw men and women with books and laptops. If you want to stretch out your day, take breaks and get some reading and writing done.