Indecent exposure

by Paula Allen

This story is part of our 'Funny Spa Stories' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our travel writing competition.

Photo by Jeremy Vandel.


I reserve the right to complain when beach season lands upon our heads and women are expected to get a new swimsuit. Each year I find a day when I don’t have to eat until noon, head to the mall early and alone trying on suits in unflattering light in a claustrophobic changing room for hours on end. Dread this, always.

This year was different. Got a call from a girlfriend in March saying “Grab your swimsuit - we’re going to the spa for the weekend, baby!” I was totally unprepared, went looking for last year’s suit to find it appeared to be sporting some marvelous basement odour that no detergent could solve. She said she was picking me up in an hour to drive to Collingwood for our fabulous Scandinave Spa weekend. On the way we hit the mall and I grabbed the first thing I saw, literally.

That’s right social taboo abound, I bought it without so much as trying it on! Ha!

Cranking the tunes, we drove straight on to “Relaxationville” hoping to become its prime new residents. Scandinave Spa was breathtaking, quite literally. March is still pretty damned cold in Collingwood and our clothes might as well as have been made of paper. Basking in the warmth of the grand reception hall we were handed terrycloth towels, fresh and springy, and escorted to the changing room. I donned my new suit without so much as a thought, gave myself a quick once over in the mirror on the way out and we were in the hot springs immediately.

Here is the thing about hot springs. You can’t stay in them too long. In fact the spa itself hosts a variety of professional “shushers” to ensure you neither talk nor linger. This is all done to ensure your best possible health following your trip to Scandinave and whilst there you are expected to do as the incredibly good looking Scandinavians do – hot bath then cold plunge, repeat. Cold what now? Oh yes, from a steaming 102 degree waterfall-laden pool you are expected to walk three yards in March in a wet bathing suit and jump (well, delicately walk into) a cold water bath.

Umm… Where is the healthy part to a heart attack? Turns out, it’s damned good for you and after a quietly whispered discussion with said shusher, we were out of our hot bath and on our way to the cold. Dipping in a toe I turned blue to the neck, grabbed my friend’s hand and went for it! Heads in and all! It was beyond invigorating! I felt alive coming back up for air, I felt liberated, I felt so awake! It was like being blasted with coffee at 5am! I assumed first that the applause was from taking the plunge but it occurred to me within moments of my triumphant departure from the pool that more than my tiredness had been eradicated. My bikini top too, it seemed, had itself taken the plunge.

Would I go back? Yes, when they take my photo off the Wall of Shame for indecent exposure.

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