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The Warsaw Voice » Other » May 7, 2008
The £ód¼ Voice
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Wave of Popularity
May 7, 2008   
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Andrzej Cie¶lik, director of the Fala Aqua Park in £ód¼, talks to Maria Sondej.

Is it true that £ód¼'s Fala is the largest aquatic park in Poland?
Yes, we can accommodate up to 1,500 people, and this number will increase to 5,000 once the outdoor pools open in July. That will make us the only aquatic park in Poland with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, allowing everyone to choose where to relax depending on the weather. Importantly, people won't have to lie down in a crowd, like they do on the beach, because the park covers 10 hectares and has plenty of trees and shrubs. The area is large enough for everyone to find a quiet spot. There won't be any sand, unlike the seashore, because people would only bring it into the pools. But a well-kept lawn is also pleasant to sit on. Fala is part of a larger leisure complex, being located near the botanical gardens, the zoo and a funfair. All these facilities make up the Park na Zdrowiu, which is a favorite spot for the people of £ód¼.

You decided to call your aquapark Fala ("wave" in English) after the old swimming pool it has replaced. Why was that?
The old Fala swimming pool was very popular with residents, especially because of its artificial wave. This was closed in 1992 and our complex opened 16 years later, in February 2008. The old name won a poll hands down despite the time that had elapsed. The artificial wave is the number-one attraction again today. People rush in from all over the complex to splash around in the water as soon as the computer starts it up. £ód¼ residents not only have fond memories, but also a lot of photos and mementos which they brought to show on opening day. I can vaguely remember the old Fala too because I went there as a child. I also have some more recent memories. I often came here with my son while the new complex was being built so we could watch the huge cranes from behind the fence. I never dreamed I'd be running the new Fala one day.

Is it hard to run Fala? What challenges do you face?
We already have a staff of 90, including lifeguards, attendants, maintenance staff and masseurs. This number will increase once the outdoor pools open in summer. We're expecting a lot of people at these pools. The water will be heated in every pool so as to maintain a constant temperature. The sports pool will be coolest and the recreation pool slightly warmer. The children's pool will be the warmest, with a temperature of up to 32 degrees Celsius.

As for challenges, our ideas for leisure activities are different from those of similar complexes. Firstly, we don't sell one-hour tickets. Our shortest stay is three hours. Why? Because we don't want Fala to be an ordinary swimming pool but a place where people can come and relax without having to glance at their watches the whole time.

We encourage family visits by offering free admission to children under 12 in the company of their parents. The entire family can even have lunch here. We have 1,000 deckchairs and a lot of water attractions for children, all under the supervision of special instructors.

Classes for parents with children aimed at familiarizing small kids with water have lifeguards on hand. There are also sessions for senior visitors to exercise in the water and relax their spines. All these attractions are available for the price of a ticket and all of them are highly popular.

What do you offer apart from swimming pools?
A spa is available for an extra fee and our saunas are considered the best in the country. I recently found out that one person has been here 54 times in the 80 days since the complex opened! We know this because every sixth visit recorded by the computer is rewarded with a free ticket. All you need do is register and that's just what he did.

Regular customers appreciate the atmosphere and find the "sauna culture" makes them feel special. They are welcomed by an attendant at the entrance and told about the available services. They are even advised on which of the five types of sauna to choose. We have traditional Finnish saunas as well as steam saunas, some with light therapy. The infrared sauna, though, is the most popular, especially with our female visitors. Our huge jacuzzi, which can easily accommodate 22 people, is a great attraction. The complex also has relaxation rooms and a separate room with heated couches for resting. We offer a "chocolate" massage, a milk bath and even a bath in rose petals, in addition to traditional massages. These treatments are a unique experience that lets people forget their worries and just relax. They leave the complex feeling completely refreshed.

Did people find it easy to accept that nudity is required in the sauna area?
This was introduced to put people at ease, but anyone who prefers to cover up can use the large towels distributed at the entrance. I am happy to say not our visitors don't just come from £ód¼. They come from all over Poland and we even get foreigners visiting the country. A lot of travel agents have recently been proposing that Fala be included on their itinerary of one-day visits to £ód¼. They want to offer leisure activities as well as historic buildings and the Manufaktura shopping mall so they include a visit to our complex. And we're all for it!
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