Winter Schminter


As the post-holiday winter funk sets in and Amsterdam is awash in grey, blustery weather, some warm favourites are shown from the past 12 months to remind us that the sun does exist. Hopefully you can feel the same warmth that I do when looking at them.

Today, Malaga.

Hot Spots III


Ever have one of those days when you are standing naked with 76 other people, eating orange slices, in 0-degree weather? While wearing flip-flops?

Well, my turn was recently at Spa Zuiver, my final 2010 stop on the sauna tour.

The poshest of the posh, Spa Zuiver is located in a sprawling sport complex in Amsterdam's south, nestled into a large park called Amsterdamse Bos (woods).

For 35 Euros, you step into a exceptionally well-designed sauna, pool, steam room, wellness area, relaxation beds (water beds!), restaurant, all framed by huge windows overlooking an outdoor pool and garden. I'm probably forgetting more. The complete list is here.

This place is the most luxurious and biggest of the saunas you'll find in Amsterdam. (Rotterdam's Elysium is the southern equivalent). And scenes like the one above actually happen too - in another European experience that was unquestionably unique, I found myself crammed into a large sauna with all those strangers, and a comedic/towel-fanning/essential-oil-on-the-sauna-rocks-pouring "sauna man" named Ado.

Common in Scandinavian saunas too, the sauna man (*note: don't Google "sauna man" - not pleasant) creates an experience by waving a towel around the room, pouring ice chips on the rocks (and on the sauna people), and in Ado's case, cracking jokes while wearing a sarong. Dude was hilarious, and helped to ease any tension one might have about sitting nude in a room thigh-to-thigh with dozens of strangers.

The room was jammed, as the special sauna is only on schedule 4 times per day. The mood in the room was jovial, and not a stitch of clothing was to be seen. At the intermission, Ado led us outside into the 0-degree weather, where we stood steaming and chatting while a table of orange slices was awaiting us. Incredibly funny, unusual, and yet somehow utterly normal.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in various steams and saunas, as well as reading a book in the lounge chairs upstairs.

Vibe: A little more on the beautiful people side than at some of the previous spots visited. Of course, you can't gawk - the Dutch don't, or maybe they are better at hiding it. The mix was around 70% female to 30% male, an excellent ratio IMHO. Plenty of not-so-beautiful as well though, so no need to feel intimidated.

Space: Very big - even on the busiest day, you have plenty of room.

Cost: Quite high, and with robe and towels costing extra, plus some food, you could easily spend 60-70 Euros here. Well worth the experience, however.

Overall, Spa Zuiver is worth spending a day-long visit for sure. It's a first-class facility. A follow-up visit, perhaps with an interview and photos, may be on the books for February.