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Trip report on the Richmond Sauna
      #1293753 - 01/18/11 07:59 AM (

The Richmond Sauna is a sauna facility and B&B in Maine. Because it's clothing-optional, it's of interest to naturists, though I wouldn't call it a "naturist place".

It's primarily a "sauna place", to which I've been going at various frequencies for around 15 years. During that time, what I've been doing there and various things about the facility have changed, but there have been relatively few physical changes. It's located about 2/3 of the way between Portland and Augusta, about 40 minutes from the Portland Airport (PWM).

The sauna building currently has seven wood-burning saunas. Each has a stove and a wood supply. The stove is connected to a barrel containing hot water and has rocks on top of it. There's a ladle that can be used to pour water from the barrel onto the rocks to heat up the room (though most of the saunas get very hot even without that). There's a shower with cold water on one side of the sauna (two of them also have a hot water shower) and a hose on the other (also with cold water). The hose can be used to fill buckets and dump them over your head (or your friend's head!) or can be used to spray people. Six of the saunas have two levels and can comfortable fit six people. Five of those six have two connected dressing rooms.

One of the saunas is larger than the other and has three levels. It can fit around ten people and is designated as the "community sauna". When singles, couples, or groups come in, they can request a private sauna. If they don't, or if no private saunas are available, they can use the community sauna. If it's a busy night, two groups alternate using a sauna, each assigned to a different dressing room.

The building also contains a lounge area with another wood-burning stove, kept at roughly room temperature, and there are also some benches and chairs in the hall with the doors to the sauna. Two rest rooms are available, as is a room for massage and another for special events.

Outside, but attached to the sauna building, is a large hot tub, which can hold over a dozen people. It's usually kept on the hot side. Next to the hot tub is a greenhouse-like building with a pool. The pool is large, has a deep section, and is usually heated to 78-83 degrees. There's a 3/4 mile trail into the woods that can be used for hiking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing (including nude hiking, showshoeing and skiiing).

Across the parking lot is a large house that's used as a B&B. One side of the house has four bedrooms upstairs, each decorated in a "classical" style with canopy beds. There's a shared bathroom there. Under them is the bedroom where the couple that own the sauna lives and a "library" (with a pullout couch). Downstairs also has a living room (with a wood-burning stove) and another bathroom and bedroom. On the opposite side of the kitchen is an two-room efficiency apartment. The house can easily hold 14 people, and more if folks sleep on couches.

The sauna's open from 5 PM to 9 PM during the winter (during standard time) and 6-10 PM in the summer. It's $25 per person for the sauna, but there are discounts for buying a block of admissions and it's free for those staying in the B&B. During the summer, people can sunbathe and swim from noon to 6 PM for $10 each.

When I first started going, the owner, also named Richard, didn't want to characterize his place as a nude or naturist place. Whenever people (including media) asked, his view was "we're a sauna place, but nobody wears clothes in a sauna". At that point, most people were nude in the sauna, hot tub, and pool, but most wrapped a towel around themselves when elsewhere. It wasn't clear at that time whether the B&B was clothing-optional or not.

Over the years, it's gotten a lot "nuder" there and now most people are nude all of the time. Part of this was due to a new person operating the sauna and part (I've been told) was due to my influence. Also, the owner got married during that time and his wife was comfortable viewing it as a naturist place and that's when they had a web site for the first time. In more recent years, though, the emphasis of the B&B has changed more from naturist to lifestyle (their web site does't make this clear, but they have brochures that do) so when I'm there, I go with a large enough group to rent out the entire B&B.

The environment in the sauna area has changed, though not a lot. Neither children nor alcohol are allowed, but there are no restrictions on single men. I've only been there on Saturdays, so can't comment on the rest of the days (I'm told that Sunday is traditionally a day when it's mostly gay males), but my experience is that, like most clothing-optional places that don't gender-balance, something like 2/3 to 3/4 of the people there (especially in the common spaces) are men. Some (the regulars) are acting respectfully and some are not (though, Paul, who runs it on Saturdays, isn't afraid to throw the latter out). The amount of "non-G-rated" behavior has been gradually increasing, but explicit sexual activity in the sauna area is rare (and not allowed in the community sauna): most people are there to enjoy the sauna.

I've never been there during summer sunbathing/swimming hours, so I have nothing to report about that atmosphere, but I don't think it would make much sense to visit for that purpose unless you're local.

As I said, I view this as a sauna first and everything else second. I don't view the B&B as a naturist destination because of the explicit sexual activities that are common there, but I also think it's too small to be of much interest to lifestylers who aren't interested in the sauna or other facilities there (e.g., nude cross-country skiing). However, if you're interested in a very good sauna experience, combined with cold water and/or rolling in the snow, this is an excellent place for that. Whether you stay at the B&B or at a hotel elsewhere depends on what your feeling is about the environment at the B&B.

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