For as long as I’ve been in Seattle, people have raved about the all-female Olympus Spa in Lynnwood. “There’s so much to do you can spend the whole day.” “It’s a great place to spend quality time with girlfriends.”
“And oh, by the way, everyone is naked.”
I’m not a particularly prudish person, so blocking off a whole day for relaxation was almost more of an issue, but when a girlfriend and I were both finally able to coordinate our schedules, I admit to feeling a little trepidation as we sped north up the freeway. So here’s my in-depth guide to what to expect, so you know not to feel nervous at all.
Your day at the spa should begin a week or so previously, so you can arrange a day off from work weekdays are much less busy and book the treatments you want at the times you want. They offer all manner of massages and facials, but I insist that you get a body scrub, which is an experience to say the least. If you just want to spend the day hanging out in the pools and hot rooms, then there are day passes are available for walk-ins, but, like I said, you want to get the scrub.
When the day dawns, pack a non-glass water bottleyou’re going to want to stay hydratedand something non-electronic to read. Everything else is provided, including products, though you can also bring your own. The spa is housed in an unassuming building in an unassuming strip mall, with plenty of parking but no indication of the delights held within. Allow plenty of time for check-in, as it can be a bit of a process, but then you will be handed a cap and gown, asked to remove your shoes and directed to the locker room.
The first thing you will notice is how spotlessly clean everything is; the second, how incredibly unflattering the cap and robe are. But that is one of the most truly relaxing things about the spa, nobody cares at all how you look.
First up you’ll want to try out the different hot rooms, each lined with different minerals, such as charcoal, sand and salt, and heated to different temperatures. Signs on the walls list the health benefits of each room. I’ve no idea if they work or not, all I know is that they’re super relaxing.
At least an hour before your scrub you’ll want to hit the pool area to get your skin sufficiently hydrated and soft. This is the naked part of the spa and while disrobing for the first time might be a bit daunting, you’ll soon remember that yes, nobody cares at all how you look. More than that though, I was surprised by what a body positive experience it was. There are women of every age, shape and color, each bearing the marks of their lived experience - tattoos and C-section scars, stretch marks and cellulite. You’ll soon realize that absolutely nobody looks like the photoshopped perfection we see daily in magazines, and yet we are all so beautiful. Sluice your beautiful body with bowls of mugwort water - supposed to balance female hormones - and then try out the spacious steam room and sauna and the alternating hot and cold baths (remembering not to scream in the latter).
When the time comes for your scrub your name will be called by a charming Korean woman and you will be led to a waterproof padded table. There is no privacy and none of that coy performance art Western beauty therapists do with towels and sheets to preserve modesty. But you will remember that these ladies have seen everything a thousand times before, and, really, nobody cares at all how you look. Instead your beautiful naked body will be attacked with soap and scrubbing mitts and you will feel like your skin is about to be rubbed off. Which it pretty much is. The amount of dead skin that gets sloughed off and sluiced away is truly gross. If you get a moisturizing treatment - recommended - unguents will then be massaged into your now perfect skin (for some reason chefs, oils and chicken breasts came to mind) and you will be ready for the restaurant part of the day.
The tea room and Korean restaurant are an integral part of the spa experience so you can wander in wearing your robe and cap. My girlfriend, who grew up in Korea, suggested we get the sundubu and the jap chae, washed down with plenty of barley tea, and pronounced all to be excellent.
With your body now purring with kimchi and contentment both inside and out, you can finish up your day with a mani-pedi, another treatment or more relaxation time. Buy an 'I've been to the naked spa' t-shirt from reception and then float back down the I-5 in a little spaced-out bubble of happiness, vowing not to leave it too long before you come back again.
There are two spa locations - one in Lynnwood and the other in Tacoma. Check out the website for online booking and for special offers.