Floating Into Yourself
A Dark, Salty Place Becomes a Best place to Escape Utila’s Worries

June 1st, 2011
by Thomas Tomczyk

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John Loken at doorstep of his Utila Float room

John Loken at doorstep of his Utila Float room

While a beer at one of Utila’s two dozen bars is still the most popular way to escape the rigmarole of island life and diving, there is now an alternative way of getting rid of stress and tuning out: floating on extra salty water in a completely dark lightproof and soundproof room.

Utila has always attracted more than its share of extravagant entrepreneurs, dreamers, and the bit unpredictable. American millionaire based on Utila Dr. Bruce Wordley has envisioned a submarine training center on the island, a man with a gyroscope (a mini helicopter) would crash in people’s back yards, a Dr. Seus-like wonderland is that island’s biggest tourist attraction. So when a “floatutila.com” chamber – a space to be yourself with no distractions entered the picture in January, few were surprised. Float chambers are still very rare experiences and one would have to travel thousands of miles to find a nearest one.

“It takes a person as crazy as me do something like this,” says John Loken, a Norwegian owner of the float room, who has logged in over 4,500 skydiving jumps before he embraced the Utila life in 2001. “It was a wonderful feeling and I wanted to share it,” says Loken who admits to ‘floating’ three times a week. “It relaxes me. It’s like pressing a reset button on your brain.”

The Utila float is located right by the Methodist Church, beyond a wooden plank walkway that leads through the mangrove trees to a two storey white house. The space of the float tank is simple, with wood, metal and glass textures all around: epoxy glued glass block, teak and rosewood finishes, stone floor and glass block windows. “The idea is to keep it clean and spotless,” says Loken who managed to create a small slice of Norway in Honduras.

The floating experience is for people who are comfortable with just being by themselves, with no distractions. The float room provides a perfect place to meditate, or just be. After a while in the 8 foot by 8 foot space one has a tendency to float towards the center of the pool, adjusting the position of one’s body, floating, with the edge of the water an inch below one’s eye. The senses are deprived of stimuli and the only place to escape is into one’s mind – not a place everyone is comfortable with. Although far from mainstream, the activity is slowly becoming more popular around the world.

Typically at float centers the floating is done in a capsule, but the Utila space is high enough to stand up in. “It is the biggest float room anywhere,” says Loken. “No one manufactures a bigger float tank.”

The tank itself was made out of fiberglass and sits on sand and 40 centimeters of insulations. The one foot deep water, the entire 1,500 liters of it, contains around 2,000 pounds of salt. “Any more salt and crystals would begin forming,” says Loken. Water filters, UV light and hydrogen peroxide, 400 parts per million, are used to disinfect and keep the water clean.

The float room opened in January and Loken estimates that around 80 people have tried the float experience to date. “It’s very cool,” says Gunter Kordovsty, Utila resident who has tried floating in the room twice. [/private]

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