After an intense couple of months under strict lockdown, these past few weeks in Ibiza have been return a joy for islanders, as they get out of their homes, back onto the beaches and back to work. After isolation, socialising is something we’ll never take for granted again, but here in Ibiza, there’s a new business offering a cutting-edge type of isolation that islanders and holidaymakers will be queuing up for when they hear about its benefits (not queuing literally of course, there’s a very civilised appointment schedule in place). The venue in question is Floatopia Ibiza – the island’s one and only floatation centre, a place where isolation is considered a necessity in the quest for Zen.
The chic Floatopia Ibiza clinic is in a super convenient location in the main shopping strip of Sant Jordi, with plenty of parking and easy access to the highway and airport. And if you’re wondering why its proximity to the airport is relevant, it’s because it’s been proven that a session in a flotation tank can help prevent, or reduce jet lag, which is great news to those jetsetters who’ve just flown into Ibiza from NYC, Sydney, Singapore or Dubai (among so many other countries!). Get picked up by your driver, swing by Floatopia Ibiza and spend an hour in the tank before checking into your villa or hotel – or vice versa, before you’re about to embark on your return trip, pass by the clinic for a pre-flight float. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here – let’s take a look at what a floatation tank is, how it works, what the experience feels like, and what the benefits are.
While floatation therapy is not exactly new – the concept was invented by neuropsychiatrist Dr John C. Lilly in 1954 as he researched the effects of sensory deprivation on the brain – its use as a commercial tool for health and wellness is rooted in much more recent history. Dr Lilly, who was quite the counter-culturist and considered controversial by his peers, spent decades refining his designs and the world’s first floatation tank was released in 1972. His basic concept was to take a full human sized vessel, add around 10 inches of water filled with enough Epsom salts to allow the body to float effortlessly. The tank should be closed, and ideally sound proofed and dark, to deprive the user of all sensory stimulation. Since then, the design and technology used in floatation tanks has far surpassed anything that was in Dr Lilly’s wildest dreams, and Floatopia Ibiza boast three top-of-the-range, high-tech fibreglass tanks that are more like luxurious king-sized space pods, where you are in complete control of your environment and any stimuli such as light or sound.
Sessions at Floatopia Ibiza are via appointment only, and are spaced out to ensure there is only ever one client in the dressing room, chill-out area and reception at any time in keeping with the current health and safety regulations. A standard float is one-hour (although regular ‘floaters’ may book for two or three hours), which means you’ll need to allow around 90 minutes for the full experience. Stepping into the stylish Sant Jordi space, it’s easy to feel instantly relaxed, as a trained professional leads you to your own private room (one person per room), where you’ll be given a demo on how to use the tank, plus Vaseline to put on any scrapes or cuts (so the salt doesn’t sting you) and earplugs (to avoid it getting inside your ears). Next, it’s time to strip down and take a quick shower to remove any moisturiser, perfume and make-up to ensure your skin is completely prepared to absorb the healing Magnesium from the water. And then, you’re ready to float…
Red, blue, orange, yellow and white glowing hues emanate from the Floatopia Ibiza pod while the lid is open. Step inside – being naked is encouraged so there’s absolutely no external stimulation such as a floating bikini string, or restrictive elastic waistbands on board shorts to distract you – and then immerse yourself into the scent-free water, which is pumped full of 1000 pounds of Epsom salts and mineral-rich Magnesium. As soon as you’re lying down, a feeling of weightlessness takes over, as if you’re defying gravity, or floating in space. Common misconceptions are that you’ll need to support your neck (you don’t – but a neck support is provided for those who may have injuries), or that you’ll need to put your feet on the floor (also no!). Your entire body rises up to the surface of the water, which is also at body temperature, which means you can’t tell the difference between the parts of your body that are underwater, and those that are exposed.
Pull the lightweight lid down and settle in, which is easy, knowing there are easy-to-access buttons inside the pod that allow you to call the Floatopia Ibiza team to your room if you need assistance at any time. Relaxing music eases you into the experience for the first ten minutes – after that, it’s pure silence (or guided meditations can also be streamed) and you can either adjust or turn off the lights for the full sensory deprivation experience, depending on your preference. From here, it’s as simple as letting go. There’s no struggle to stay afloat – if anything, your body adapts so quickly it’s like resting on the greatest mattress in the world. Some people fall asleep; others reach the theta brainwave state that takes you into the deepest state of relaxation possible as all of your senses are no longer doing any work. It’s natural during your first float to remain slightly alert – after all, you’re wondering what’s going to happen next or how long you’ve been in the tank, but the sooner you can just ‘be’, the faster you’ll reap the benefits.
The benefits of using a floatation tank range from the most obvious, which is total relaxation, to some truly therapeutic advantages. Floating can be used to treat sports injuries, or simply to help the body recover quickly after an intense workout – It’s proven so effective that professional football teams around the world are investing in floatation pods for their players to use daily. The team at Floatopia Ibiza – who are all passionate floaters themselves – and medical professionals around the world recommend sessions to help with anxiety, PTSD, depression, insomnia, mood enhancement, reduce blood pressure, improve circulation, relieve weight and pressure from pregnancy, and as aforementioned, decrease the effects of jet lag. Floating has also been proven to enhance creativity – there are some artists and musicians who have even been known to compose while inside the tank! Just like yoga and meditation, floating is a true mind, body and soul therapy – you’ll find the more you float, the more clarity you will have in your day-to-day life.
Floatopia Ibiza recommend floating a minimum of once a week to see and feel continued results, although it’s completely safe to use as often as you’d like – people such as athletes or frequent flyers may wish to float several times a week. The experience is suitable for anyone over the age of 16, and if you have any fears or concerns, there’s always a trained professional on-hand to talk you through it. If you’re worried about claustrophobia, you can leave the lid open while floating. If you’re scared of the dark, you can leave the lights on. It’s completely safe to fall asleep as your body naturally remains buoyant. There are no known side effects of Epsom Salts or Magnesium. And perhaps one of the most important thing to note in our new way of living, is that the filtration system used to drain and clean the tanks is the most highly advanced technology available. The water is purified through a one-micron system that is finer than a human hair, while the disinfectant and high Epsom salt content ensures nothing harmful can survive in the tank. In addition, each room, shower and pod is thoroughly cleaned in between each session in keeping with health and safety regulations.
Five minutes before your session is over, gentle music softly starts streaming into the pod again to bring your mind back to reality. Once you’ve stepped out of the pod you’ll need to rinse off the minerals and salt from your hair and body in the shower – high-end Campos de Ibiza products, towels and hairdryers are provided so you don’t need to worry about bringing anything with you. Then you’ll float (figuratively this time) out into the chill-out zone, where you can sip a cup of herbal tea before heading back out into the world with a clear mind, a relaxed body and an uplifted spirit. If three months of quarantine restrictions and social distancing has taught us anything, it’s that we need to take care of ourselves in order to face the challenges, as well as the excitement and possibilities, that the ‘new normal’ brings. And if that means a little more time spent in isolation, albeit self-imposed and floating on water, then Floatopia Ibiza is the ultimate place to be.