City Paper is not for tourists
Spa World was once a novel day trip for Washingtonians who wanted to swim around naked, wear awesome orange jumpsuits resembling a Communist-era gym-class uniform, and lie on hot clay balls—an affordable day of physical pleasures with a hint of exoticism stemming from its Korean origins. A 2013 incident that raised questions about Spa World’s treatment of gay and transgender customers took a bit of shine off the experience, but 2014 basically blew it up: In July, news broke that police had been investigating the spa for a year over possible nonpayment of wages, slave-like labor conditions, prostitution, and abduction. One man told authorities he’d been recruited from San Francisco to work as a body scrubber. After arriving in Centreville, he alleged, his belongings were confiscated, and he was not allowed to leave Spa World and was forced to sleep on the floor. Other employee affidavits included details like having IDs taken by management, being denied lunch breaks, being denied pay, and even being forced to pay management $2,400 to be allowed to quit. As of yet, no charges have been filed against Spa World, but just the prospect of modern slavery has a way of making those hot clay balls less fun.