“If you want a better planet, have it run by women and conduct your meetings in a Dutch Spa”.
I was told this whilst working at the European Union, and it is TRUE – it is a great leveller when you’re not able to ‘hide’, and all is bare. Somehow, there is more humanity in the room.
My closest friend from Graduate School was due to get married, she had asked myself and our best friend to be her maids of honour. In the midst of the preparation, she said, would you like to come to the Spa with me? I was in! The fact that Spa Zuiver is set out on the edge of green and serene Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Forest) makes it particularly scenic.
It turned out to be an experience for a reason I did not expect. It was an all naked spa, which apologised for having swimwear days on Tuesdays and Thursdays, introduced due to popular demand by the young international crowd. It’s interesting how we are less comfortable with our body image in the UK, but ignoring this, boldly I went ahead, in exploration of my first nude spa.
She is Dutch, and as she explained, a little easier for her, but I certainly had to go past my comfort zone in order to stand completely naked before a room of other completely naked people. It was strange, I barely knew where to look or where to put myself, which others seemed almost too comfortable and I would guess very regular. It is challenging, but gets better, and soon you feel liberated and can see the reason for it in a spa. After sometime, your focus moves away from your body image, and settles on focusing on the experience. Sensing the different sensations on your skin – the piping hot water from the steam room, to the freezing cold water of the plunge pool, rooms with heat bars, scents, colours and music, such that the idea of not having clothes and experiencing your body fully becomes empowering.
Perhaps you also feel free because it is exceptionally spacious. Expanding over 13,000 metres square, Spa Zuiver has 8 saunas, 7 pools, a 40 metre long swimming pool which takes you out into a private garden of more than 1000 square metres with ample sunbeds and further spa experiences.
A highlight, as simple as it would normally sound, was just swimming in the central pool, naked, and feeling the sun on every inch of your body – when stripped back to such simple pleasures, joy can only escalate. For example, the open hearth sauna which is heated by a real log fire, or an infrared sauna which is able to penetrates your skin first layer of skin and then is able to heat up your body at an even deeper level. It prevents muscle pain, stimulates the healing of injuries and the heat ensures that fatty acids and waste can leave the body through the lymph system.
It has a colour therapy sauna and a music sauna, a steam bath, hammam and a roman and salt caldarium which has the Himalayan salts with an intense cleansing effect on your skin and airways.
Even the traditional Finnish Spa has a twist, with very popular gong baths and singing bowl sessions, or aromatherapy infusion experiences provided by exceptionally friendly staff. I do not think I would ever have managed to sit through such a sauna infusion myself had the temperature not been gradually raised by a professional, who manages where the heat goes and is able to bring maximum benefits to the crowd, whilst looking out for their well-being and overheating. Most importantly, they are able to tell you the safest and best way to cool down. And without a bathing suit, the plunge pool, or the ice bucket outside are able to work their cleansing and exfoliating magic on your skin.
In addition they have the aromatherapy baths, the whirlpool in the open air all year round, which is extremely refreshing, along with the usual hot tub, and a gentle cold waterfall if the plunge pool feels like too much of a shock. They have thought of it all, with individual, couple and group experiences on offer. Massages, facials and other forms of pampering are also available in the adjacent beauty salon.
Then if you want all the benefits to continue, there is a very well stocked RITUALS shop, founded in Holland, before you leave. With their very appropriate tag line:
“We’re not here to sell you beauty, we are here to make you feel good.”
I suggest you spend the day there, and with two restaurants, an a la carte and a brasserie with seasonal dishes made from honest ingredients, they make this especially easy. They also have a bar and a relaxing lounge with Asian finger food, before you check yourself into the Zuiver Hotel next door with 31 rooms and an infamous fitness club. As should be the case with a good hotel in Holland, they provide bikes for residents to explore Amsterdam. It is situated close to Schiphol, RAI, and Amsterdam South (Zuidas).
Spa Zuiver is something else because it is an oasis of calm in Amsterdam. Situated in a lush forest, with high quality service and facilities, they make it possible for you to feel whole again, and at peace with yourself and your surroundings.