By Jay Betsill
CARROLLTON — I was first introduced to the Spa Castle when a few of my friends posted pictures on social media from their visit and since it was one of their birthdays, I just assumed that it was a far-off destination that looked like a good place to visit someday.
When one of my them informed me that it was actually here in DFW, located on I-35E and the Bush Turnpike, it gave me an excuse to escape the daily grind, turn off both of my iPhones and seemingly disappear into what is essentially a combination of a traditional Asian sauna and a lavish spa that one might encounter at a Ritz-Carlton hotel.
I left the real world as I drove by the Chick Fil-A and into the parking lot to be welcomed by two huge ancient looking statues that flanked the main entry way. Upon arrival, you get an electronic watch that serves as a key for the locker and tracks any purchases made during the stay so you don’t have to carry around any cash or credit cards.
Since it is a “barefoot facility,” I received a pair of blue slippers at the front reception before turning left and going into the men’s locker room. Inside the locker room, I received a uniform — blue T-shirt and shorts — before heading out to the pool area.
Or should I say the “pools” area.
The first pool I encountered was the Aqua Bar pool that was indoors and featured a swim-up bar and flat-screen TVs showing sports in the background. I would have been perfectly satisfied to stay in this one pool, but I opted to continuing exploring and ventured outdoors to the Mystic Pool, which puts you inside a mountain cave with a waterfall blocking out everything and simultaneously providing a sense of peace and serenity. I also took the opportunity to lie back in one of the large pools in the center of the outdoor area that was equipped with hydrotherapy water jets that massage your back and feet while lying inside a “personal body lounge.’
I took a break from all of this relaxation to grab some food at the snack bar near the Aqua Bar pool. Although I felt like I was in a different world, I was still the same person, so I went with the obvious choice of chicken tenders and a drink while I watched the rest of the Rangers game on the nearby flat screen. If you choose to go healthier than me, there is a sushi bar and juice bar as well.
While the pools were amazing, I wanted to at least check out some of the remainder of the 140,000 square foot property. On the second level of the three-story building, I discovered the Sauna Valley, ten sauna rooms of varying temperatures that ranged from 90-189 degrees as to achieve different effects on your body. The rooms feature different elements to help detox, increase circulation, strengthen the immune system, alleviate muscle tension and most importantly in my case, to simply relax.
In what amounted to a coincidental saving the best for last, I happened upon Ice Land. Technically it is a sauna, just with its walls lined in ice. In addition to completely cooling me off, it is supposed to firm up your skin, reduce cellulite and chronic pain and fatigue, all of which attributed to a nice bonus for someone who really just longed for a few hours of “getting away from it all.”
On my way out, when I turned in the watch and paid the tab, I learned that the Spa Castle even has its own boutique hotel called The One should you want to make it more of a stay-cation and spend more time than I had to indulge in this jewel of a local getaway.