I Had a Public Massage - True Story of a Beachside Spa Treatment
It was a beautiful day at the Curacao Marriott, and an hour-long massage had been booked for me at the spa. When I arrived at the spa, I was delighted to hear that my massage would take place right on the beach. How fabulous!
I followed my masseuse, who carried a large pile of towels, across the property. I assumed we'd be going to a secluded cabana somewhere, but as we continued walking, I found we were headed toward the side of the resort where my room was -- and there was certainly no cabana there. We approached a sunlit area with a few ineffectual bushes and a gazebo-like structure (above) where I understand weddings are often held. Weddings, as in, declaring your love for all to see in public. We entered the gazebo and I examined the roof and sides. There were no shades, no blinds; there was absolutely no privacy. People were lying on the beach (and even on the deck) on three sides of the gazebo, and the fourth side faced the open ocean, where resort guests were swimming and playing paddleball. I pretended this was normal to me for as long as I could.
It was only after she had covered the table with towels and said, "Okay, lie on your stomach facing this way," that I blurted out, "Um, I don't have any clothes on under this robe, you know, right?"
She smiled. "Yes, I know. Lie down in your robe. We'll see if we can figure something out." She had clearly been through this before. Her tone was reassuring.
It was somewhat unceremonious, but I laid face down on the table and she had me untie the belt. She pulled out the sides of the robe so that, with the robe draped over me, I was still completely covered. Then, she shimmied a towel up under the bottom of the robe to cover my posterior. It was at this point that I noticed the wind; the new arch enemy of my modesty; but she tucked the sides of the towel into the table (as above). I felt pretty snugly covered.
She checked that I was okay, then removed the robe. I confess to feeling complete shock. I mean, should my travels have taken me to Saint-Tropez, I'd be okay doing as the Tropeziennes do, but this was no topless -- let alone nude -- beach. This was the family-friendly Marriott. People of all ages were on all sides of me. A couple of older gentlemen were on the same deck.
But then, I realized that with the exception of the sides of my ribcage, I was actually far more covered up than I'd been earlier that day, running and laying around in my bikini. I don't know if it was this knowledge, the start of the massage or the simple act of lying still, but gradually, my thoughts drifted to other things. I mean, yes, occasionally I caught a draft in an unexpected place and had a moment of concern, but for the most part, I relaxed. The masseuse was exceptionally good, and the ocean waves were crashing all around.
She shifted the towels a few more times to work on my back or legs and then to have me flip over (at which point my covering towel was turned length-wise). She was completely professional about it and kept me decent. Then, she asked if I wanted my stomach worked on. I normally say yes to this. I laughed warily and said "Sure, I mean, I'd love to see how you can even do that." Again, she was friendly and tolerant of my nervousness. She got a second towel and tucked it under my arms, rolled down the first towel and worked on my stomach.
When I think about it, this is pretty much how massages go anyway. The only things that were different, really, were getting undressed on the table, turning over under the towel and, well, all the people nearby; most of whom ignored me, but one of whom went for a creepily close walk through the boulders at the shore for about twenty minutes. Didn't that guy realize I was more covered than I would be in a bathing suit? His presence was the only part of the massage that would give me pause before booking another -- but he could just as easily have been leering at me on the beach. In fact, that would have been worse. I felt safe and protected throughout the massage.
Despite my reservations and surprise, it was a terrific massage. The masseuse was excellent. The salty air felt wonderful on my skin, and the sand I got on my feet walking to the gazebo turned out to be a marvelous exfoliant. The crashing waves were far better than music. I'd recommend a beach massage to anyone -- or at least anyone comfortable with their body who thinks they could survive the initial shock! If you think being on display to the entire world during your massage would be less than relaxing, ask if there's a designated private cabana before booking.
My trip to Curacao Marriott was sponsored by Curacao Marriott, but the ideas and opinions expressed in this article are 100 percent my own.