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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014

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In Living Commentary

OnMilwaukee.com's Molly Snyder was a Sybaris virgin prior to Tuesday night.

In Living Commentary

Prepare for wetness: All Sybaris suites include a pool and / or whirlpool.

In Living Commentary

We didn't have a slide, but we did have a waterfall.

In Living Commentary

Do rose petals really enhance romance?

In Living Commentary

BYOC (bring your own Champagne) but plastic glasses are provided.

In Living Commentary

Matching mauve toilet and bidet.

In Living Commentary

The massager chair topped with white bath robes.

In Living Commentary

The outside of Sybaris suites is bland in comparison to the inside.

Romantic or raunchy: A sexy slide into Sybaris


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The rose petals are an extra amenity that guests order ahead of time. They are available "sprinkled" for $15 or in the shape of a heart for $30. Prior to a visit, Sybaris sends an email suggesting gift ideas including the petals, chocolate-covered strawberries or balloons to be placed in the room before check-in.

Almost everyone we told that we were going to the Sybaris wisecracked about the cleanliness or lack thereof. People warned me, jokingly (I think), that if I swam in the pool I'd contract syphilis or become pregnant by a leftover, rogue sperm. Others said I should scan the furniture with a black light or bring my own bleach.

Sorry to debunk the lore, but we found the rooms to be very clean. (We did have one scare, when we thought there was a piece of skin floating in the pool, but it was actually just a shriveled rose petal that we had transferred there ourselves). Deep vacuum lines marked the carpeting. The sheets, bedding and shower curtain were stark white without a spot or stain.

The pool, although possibly a touch over-chlorinated, was very clean, too. It could have been a little warmer, especially the water coming from the waterfall.

I have stayed in hotels that were way less clean, but the Sybaris gets a bad rap because its main purpose is to provide accommodations for copulation, therefore one can't avoid thinking about strangers having sex and what might get left behind. You can't help but to look at the mauve-carpeted platform surrounded by mirrors and wonder, "How many times has it been done there?"

The ghosts of orgasms are everywhere.

"Each Sybaris suite is impeccably maintained and the swimming pools are meticulously cared for by trained technicians," says Dan Fahrner, Sybaris' marketing director. "Diagnostic Systems test PH balance and sanitation levels, and advanced systems filter the entire pool four times each day. We also offer tours each and every day, so a guest can stop by and check us out before making a reservation."

Whether or not a couple has to be married to stay at Sybaris is always in question. Although Knudsen's intention for Sybaris was to create "a special place dedicated to the enhancement of romantic marriage," and the Web site copy is written for the wedded, Fahrner says the resort is inclusive of all couples, regardless of sexual preference.

"Sybaris is intended for two people. Guests, children and pets are not allowed," he says.

But just to be sure, I called Sybaris, gave them a fake name and asked to make a reservation for my partner and I. The receptionist asked my date of birth so she could send me birthday coupons, and then asked for my husband's birthday. I told her I was not bringing a husband, rather, a wife. Without missing a beat, she said, "No problem, when is her birthday?"

This acceptance may not, however, have always been the case. Information floats around the Internet, like this article, suggesting that at one time, Sybaris had an anti-gay policy.

In 1974, inspired by his and his wife's romantic bedroom, Knudson opened the first Sybaris in Downers Grove, Ill. His plan, according to the Web site, was to provide a "magical place where couples could shed the stress of daily life and reacquaint themselves with love. An oasis of privacy – no windows, no phones."

Today, there are five Sybaris locations: three in Illinois, one in Indianapolis and the other in Mequon.

The Mequon Sybaris features 34 units divided into six types of suites: Country Whirlpool, Classic Whirlpool, Deluxe Whirlpool, Paradise Swimming Pool, Majestic Swimming Pool and the Chalet Swimming Pool (which is the only suite with "the slide").

Prices range depending on which suite is reserved and whether it's during the week or weekend. During the week, prices run from $109 to $399; on the weekend from $179 to $549 per night. Sybaris also offers afternoon rentals ("nooners!") seven days a week from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. that cost between $69 to $199. Prices do not include taxes or the membership fee.

Because Sybaris is a private club, couples must have a membership to stay there. Membership prices are $30 for a basic or $110 for a VIP and paid annually. According to the website, Sybaris has more than 250,000 members.

Sybaris is named after an ancient Greek city in Southern Italy that was known for its wealth, luxury and devotion to sensuous pleasure. Stuffing pillows and mattresses with rose petals before couples had an intimate encounter is a classic Sybaritic custom and part of the reason why rose petals are available at Sybaris Pool Suites today.

Bottom line? Sybaris is outdated, a little creepy (windows would be nice) and pricey, but with the right frame of mind, it's cheesy-sleazy fun. Our favorite part of the adventure? Probably a cross between the illuminated framed picture of a sunrise with its own light switch and, of course, the non-stop nookie.

Hey, when in Rome, right?

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Talkbacks

TosaJim | April 16, 2013 at 8:45 a.m. (report)

I'm pretty sure they have hidden video cameras all over the place. :) You may all be porn stars and not even know it. :):)

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devidia | June 5, 2012 at 11:32 a.m. (report)

They played B93.3 FM??? What a turn off!!!!!

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Chimmy13 | June 5, 2012 at 10:26 a.m. (report)

Did anyone else notice what was playing on the TV? Awesome!!!

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dagwentim | June 3, 2012 at 9:37 p.m. (report)

It sounds like Mr BlahBlahBlah could benefit more than the rest of us from a Sybaris weekend....ouch! For a light-hearted feature article, exploring a location that many of us have seen but NEVER been to, Molly's take was totally spot on, and I applaud her for writing it. Enjoyable and laughable at the same time. Thanks for sharing your adventure!

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thinkabout | June 3, 2012 at 3:41 p.m. (report)

So much fun to read, Ms. Snyder! Best line, IMO, is "The ghosts of orgasms are everywhere." Sounds a bit like poetry, eh?

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