24 September 2013
This Chuseok, we had an invitation to join some Korean friends at the Resom Resort Spa Castle in Deoksan. We arrived on the first day of Chuseok and were surprised by the buzzing atmosphere of the resort as guests streamed in to enjoy the long weekend.
We stayed 2 nights in a small condominium. Ironically, we slept in the Korean style room (Korean mattress on the floor) and the Koreans slept in the Western style room (with a double bed). There are two beautiful parks on the grounds where you can picnic or walk. There was also a buffet breakfast to enjoy and of course, the main attraction of the hotel, the spa.
Unaware of the facilities, we had assumed that going to a ‘spa’ meant that we would find a salon style spa with massage, facial therapy, mud baths, jacuzzis and skin treatments. We could not have been more wrong! As it turns out, Korean ‘spas’ are actually more like waterparks!
At this one, there was an indoor public bath area (women and men seperate), an indoor pool area and an outdoor waterpark area with slides and pools. You had to pay for a day pass to enter the ‘sauna’ (indoor public bath area) or, a full day pass for all the facilities. It was also compulsory to hire life jackets if you wanted to use any of the slides (as most Koreans cannot swim) and you also had to wear a cap (swimming or baseball cap are both acceptable)!
Of course, we had to take advantage of staying at a waterpark and so we spent a full day enjoying all that it had to offer.
The indoor public bath area was like a normal jimjilbang (public bath house) that can be found anywhere in Korea. It was however, a little fancier than the average jimjilbang found in the cities. Women and men are completely seperated and there are towels and powder room amenities provided free of charge in this area. Also, everybody is naked. Completely naked, together, in full view of everyone else. The towels are more like hand towels and barely cover one cheek let alone a body. In this area there are saunas, pools of varying temperatures, showers, scrub rooms, hot rock decks and massage rooms. The powder rooms have moisturisers, hair gel, hair dryers and other consumables, which can be used free of charge. Secretly, I actually enjoy the jimjilbang, once I’ve forgotten about everyone staring (openly) at the foreigner who looks quite different from the skinny Koreans.
Once you leave the jimjilbang, you need to be fully clothed again to enter the indoor and outdoor swimming areas. The indoor pools were a combination of jacuzzis, swimming pools, hot and cold paddle pools and also a huge “bade pool”. The Bade pool is so relaxing! You move around the pool at your leisure and visit different areas to enjoy different types of hydrotherapy. For example, there were sections with a neck massage spray, foot spa bubbles, back and leg spray, jacuzzi style pool, individual bubble bays and even a “therapy walk way” for relaxing walking. All inside one pool. Amazing!
The outside pool area included a torrent river (70cm deep, still required life jackets), tube rides, body slides, speed slide and also a few different pools and jacuzzis to relax. There were attentive life guards at every station and they got very grumpy if you didn’t wear your life jacket, or a cap. It seems that it’s ok for a lady to walk around naked in front of every lady in the jimjilbang but when she goes outside she must have clothes on over her swimming costume – t-shirt, shorts, pants suit, whatever. And the men also have long t-shirts and big shorts on most of the time. A few exceptions were jaw-dropping bikinis and banana hammocks but these were either fashionistas or tourists.
We had a superb time at this resort and a good few laughs at the strange differences from what we’re used to back home. I hope to return here one day soon.