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Woman customer ‘nauseated’ by sights and smells of men in spa

Complaint over conditions at Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre

15 February, 2018 — By Tom Foot

WOMEN have stopped using a flagship unisex spa because of “patronising” male customers who routinely break all the hygiene rules, according to an official complaint.

One regular, who did not wish to be named, has blown the whistle on the sights, sounds and smells of the sauna rooms at Swiss Cottage leisure centre. In her complaint to managers at Greenwich Leisure Limited, which runs the service, the woman warned that men were peeing in the steam rooms and revealing their bottoms in communal areas. She said men were removing all clothes in the “tepidarium” – the warm room – while others would come into the sauna “with panties and no swimming suit”. “I am fed up to see men exposing themselves,” said the woman.

Men were often patronising and misogynistic when she challenged them about hygiene failures, she added. She warned that men were peeing on top of benches, and particularly while washing in the “emotional shower”, reserved for cooling down from the heat of the room and not for using soap or shampoo.

“A group of men who clearly were friends were showering in the emotional shower,” said the woman. “Last week, there was a guy in the tepidarium who was spreading a lot of product on his body, and he was not mindful of women being there and his hands were going inside his swimming suit.”

The complaint listed around 20 breaches of policy where men were wrongly coming in wearing trainers or bringing bundles of sweaty clothes, against the rules. It said: “As soon as I entered the spa there was a man with a pile of clothes there, including his shoes, which had brought mud everywhere. The smell was unbearable. These are not exceptions. It happens every time I am in the spa. I have talked to other women who feel the same, made complaints, but nothing happens. Recently, I have seen these women no more.”

She added: “I am feeling nauseated by the experience, and needed to take time away to recover psychologic­ally… I have withdrawn from using the facilities for two months, giving time to staff to sort the problem out, but things are even worse now, with all the women disappearing.” The woman told managers: “If the facility cannot be healthy, clean and safe, if you are not able to monitor, you should ban those members, change cleaners or close the facility.”

A response to her complaint said regular checks of the health suite area had not been able to identify a smell of urine. “However, we will continue to monitor,” it added.

GLL has apologised for its “less than satisfactory” communi­ca­tion with the customer.  “We are concerned if anyone feels intimidated using shared facilities. So we have listened and will now be meeting the customer to assure her of the action taken – including identifying and educating any members found to be disregarding health suite rules,” it said.

Culture chief Councillor Jonathan Simpson said: “I’m pleased GLL are taking action to ensure this is the case.”

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