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The Roseapple  Global Blog!

Black & Curvy Expat: How I Overcame My Challenging Spa Experiences

From Taking a Break to Regaining Spa Blissfulness

Photos from Karla's last spa experience in Bali at luxury hotel spa in December 2019.

Going to the spa over the years has been bliss, minus the occasional lackluster service experiences. After enjoying unique, global spa experiences, I took a hiatus. It was not because of the stares or the obvious uneasiness of other spa guests. Nor was it the random treatment from the spa staff because I was the only #black. Once I was at the spa or in the lounge, the glares did not stop me from the refreshing energy I got from my couple of hours of pampering.

So why did I take a break?

Over the years of going to the #spa, my body and figure had changed. I had gone from average to plus-size. It was one such occasion in December 2012 on the tropical paradise of the Maldives, my full-figured, curvaceous body did not fit into a robe. And the spa staff made matters worse by body-shaming me. You see, I no longer fit the typical size spa robe, sarong, or slippers most spas issued to their guests. So, for a few years, I took a break from one of my favorite guilty pleasures while living and traveling abroad.

Then came my first trip to #Bali in 2015 while living in Singapore. I have been yearning to return to the tranquility of a spa and relaxation of having a massage. I anxiously booked an appointment at the luxury spa in my hotel. My inner being was hoping my experience would not be negative. To my delight, it was not. After checking-in, I was escorted to the ladies changing room and given my locker and my accessory. The attendant asked me to “wait a while.” Looking puzzled, I replied “okay.” She returned a few minutes with a robe. She already knew the robe in my locker was not going to be a comfortable fit. When I inquired, she had taken a robe from the men’s side of the spa. Their robes were bigger and no different as all the robes were made from the same fabric and in the same style. I had a moment of sheer joy inside and a huge smile on my face. My spa experience that day was back to being #blissful.

You see, I no longer fit the typical size spa robe, sarong, or slippers most spas issued to their guests.

Photo of a folded spa robe.
My Custom-made Robe

As a result, the unnamed spa became my spa of choice on my next couple of visits to Bali even when I did not stay at that hotel. Eventually, during a return visit in late 2016, I asked about buying a robe. However, they did not have the robe for sale in my size. Then I asked if I could order one for myself. This required approval from the spa and hotel management and checking with the supplier. It took about 3 months, but I was able to order two robes in my size. Once the robes were made, the spa shipped them to me at my home location in Singapore. I was thrilled and almost in tears the day the package arrived. I knew, from that day forth, I would never feel uncomfortable from a body image perspective when seeking to enjoy a spa experience. As for being the only black woman, well that is slowly changing too. I have been to spas in Bali, Phuket, and Singapore and greeted other black women. There is still some head-turning and stares, but a bit less as there was more than one of us in the relaxing lounge.