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Spa Castle is a NYC version of an authentic sauna.

I have never been to Spa Castle.  This Star Tribune travel article reviews Spa Castle as “a massive water castle… 20 minutes from both LaGuardia and JFK.  A beautiful, spacious superspa, bar, massage center, food court, rooftop pool and baker’s dozen of saunas all in one”  One not need be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, so here’s my critique.

Cost: NYC is all about pay to play.  Spa Castle costs $45.00 on weekends and $35.00 on weekdays.

Up sell: Astute marketers offer revenue opportunities by offering always more – more status, more service, more elitism.  Once your in the place, open your wallet for a $95.00 massage, and, of course, they accept credit cards for smoothies and fancy lunches with sprout garnishes that will really raise your status.

Vanity: Spa Castle is about being pampered.  You can be a movie star for a day, someone famous in your own mind.  (yes, you’re worth it.. think Gwyneth Paltrow.)

Wimpy: After sauna, the article instructs: “your next stop is the cold bath, a hair-straightening 67 degrees.”  The examples of dumbing down of America are many, here is no exception.

Conclusion: Spa Castle is an overpriced shill program to wrangle money out of vanity and society seekers, with a cold water plunge made way too warm by fickle customers and whines from New York City lawyers.

Real sauna wind blows by an old school wood burning sauna with a creeking door, that sits by the shores of a cold fresh water lake far, far away from parking lots crammed with frantic lost souls yapping on cell phones behind wheels of leased BMWs, all looking for their next vanity fix.

Your own backyard sauna or cabin is about none of this: free to get in, no up sell, no vanity, and authentic BTUs with a cool down where it should be – well below 67 degrees.

5 thoughts on “Spa Castle is a NYC version of an authentic sauna.”

  1. Glenn:

    After this piece, I might have to accuse you of being a sauna snob. Yes, Spa Castle isn’t anything like a Finnish Sauna. It doesn’t try to be, or apologize for that. Spa Castle is an authentic Korean Sauna. The Koreans found their own way, and it is completely different.

    For the cost, $35 doesn’t seem like that much when you figure that it costs $23 to take a cab the 6 miles from LaGuardia, or if you drove your own car from Newark it would cost over $15 in tolls just to get there, and that’s each way.

    If you’ve never tried one, I urge you to give one a shot. The Koreans have some unique ideas.

    I personally like the King Sauna group better than Spa Castle. There’s one of these just a few miles from O’Hare.

  2. Ah! Nothing better for a blog than a little controversy!

    As one of the Saunatimes writers, I have to chime in and agree with Chris here. I’m not going to call you a snob, but I’ve been to Spa Castle and it is AMAZING. The rooftop definitely gets a little bit Disneyland and can be a little annoying with all the kids running around, but the saunas are GREAT. I found the people there to be respectful of them and quiet (for the most part) in them. It’s very fun to hit all 7 of them and let me tell you, 7 rounds is a pretty sublime kind of relaxation for any sauna goer. The Loess sauna (the hottest) and the salt sauna are great.

    What’s wild is that the mens locker room has it’s own private kind of spa room that is just as amazing as the rest of the place. In fact, I think we spent an equal amount of time in there if not more. They do have an authentic Finnish sauna in there and it’s a good one. Also, 4 therapeutic hot tubs and an incredibly ice cold dunking pool.

    I recommend that everyone in NYC hit that place AND the Russian and Turkish Baths to get both ends of the spectrum. The latter is the REAL DEAL in terms of authenticity.

    Both are amazing. Glenn – lets get into it this more on the bench soon!

  3. As a New Yorker of 12 years (formerly of Duluth, Minnesota) and a frequenter of Spa Castle I’d like to offer my perspective. Many of us Manhattaners would love to have our own backyard on a lake. Unfortunately, that’s not really possible for most of us. So we go to Spa Castle.

    Spa Castle is really a great chill place that has absolutely nothing to do with vanity. If you’d spent even a single hour there you’d see what I mean. In the locker areas everyone is naked. Everywhere else, it’s required that everyone wear the exact same uniform. It’s impossible to be vain in that uniform. It’s a place for people to escape the grind of the city and sweat out your worries.

    It’s very easy to spend no more than your entrance fee, which you can hardly gripe about, they after all provide quite a lot for you in terms of different pools, saunas, lounging and napping areas, towels, uniforms, etc. that are included in that price. After all, your sauna wasn’t exactly free either, was it? You had to buy materials to build it and spend money to maintain and run it. There is a huge area for each men and women with several different heated jet pools (5 by my count) and two cold pools with different jets and showers, in addition to two saunas in that area, as well as two other saunas that are just for women in the lounge area. There are 7 saunas and led lights to sit under as well as a host of pools and a huge sunning patio all of which cost no additional money. They offer a range of services, many of which are really quite affordable. I don’t know what you’re used to paying for an hour long massage where you live but $90 is pretty cheap for NYC. (it is $90 and not $95. a small distinction but one that proves that your info is not totally correct here) The Swedish massage I got there was the best massage I’ve had in my life.

    For me, Spa Castle has been a lovely way to get a little break and relax with my girlfriends. It’s something I consider to actually be quite an affordable day of relaxation.

    I recommend you try something yourself before you trash it. Your comments show that you are out of touch with the reality of what this situation actually is.

  4. Check out the authentic sauna in the heart of Chicago at the above website. It is as close to a northwoods sauna as you get in the city complewte with a wet and dry sauna and 45 degre plunge pool. This place is awesome also has great Russian food and ice cold beer.

  5. I’m glad you prefaced your article with “I have never been to Spa Castle.”, because it is clear that you have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to Spa Castle, or probably any Korean jjimjilbang, for that matter.

    I’ll address your critique in order:

    “Spa Castle costs $45.00 on weekends and $35.00 on weekdays.”

    This door price gets you entrance to the spa which includes men’s/women’s locker rooms/ shower area, multiple pools (at different temperatures) steam sauna, dry sauna, lounging/rest area… And that’s just the ground floor… The floors above include more lounge areas, sleeping areas, multiple saunas (all at varying temps) more pools (co-ed). And you can spend the entire day there. Spend 8 hours and it’s just about $5/hr. That doesn’t seem expensive to me….

    “open your wallet for a $95.00 massage”

    What the article referred to is a 1 hour Korean bodyscrub meant to peal off the dead skin cells (painful, but worth it, PLUS a 1 hour massage. That’s not very expensive either.

    “smoothies and fancy lunches with sprout garnishes that will really raise your status.”

    Have you ever had Korean food? It has nothing to do with status…

    “Spa Castle is about being pampered.”

    Soaking naked in a community pool surrounded by dozens of old wrinkly naked Korean men then spending a few hours sweating and getting a massage is not my idea of being pampered. Now, throw in a Korean supermodel/actress hanging out with me the whole time…. that’s a different story…

    “After sauna, the article instructs: “your next stop is the cold bath, a hair-straightening 67 degrees.””

    This is not correct… After soaking in the hot pools in the locker rooms you can jump in the cold pool.Is 67* too warm for you? Sorry, not everyone is a member of the Polar Bear Club. Upstairs there is a cold sauna which is cooled down into the 30’s, (the refrigeration pipes in the room have ice built up on them)

    “Spa Castle is an overpriced shill program to wrangle money out of vanity and society seekers, with a cold water plunge made way too warm by fickle customers and whines from New York City lawyers.”

    The majority of patrons at Spa Castle are hard working middle class Koreans, not yuppie lawyers.

    “Real sauna wind blows by an old school wood burning sauna with a creeking door”

    If this is what you are looking for, head across to New Jersey to another Korean Sauna, King Sauna, where they set a wood fire every few hours in their hot room in order to keep the room at over 200 degrees. (yeah, the burlap sacks you need to cover yourself with in there are quite the fashion statement.

    “Your own backyard sauna or cabin is about none of this: free to get in, no up sell, no vanity”

    I don’t know, you seem awfully vain about yours, and putting down others who enjoy Korean style sauna.

    Next time you write a review about a place, I suggest you actually go there first, so you get your facts straight.

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