Monday 29 September 2008

ULTA Toilet Offers Men A Place of Quiet Respite -- As Long As They Don't Enter the Store Alone

520 N. Orlando Avenue
Winter Park, FL USA

Where is it?

From the front entrance, head to the back right corner of the store. Once there, look for an area that looks like a hair salon, complete with comfy-looking chairs set beneath those domed hair driers and reclining chairs that lean back into those sinks that wash your hair before or after a hair cut. Ironically, I found no patrons in these seats (at least not on my visit), so I'm not sure if it's in operation, but still, the set up is there.

Once there, look to the back right corner of the store and you'll see the doors to the bathrooms.

What's it like?

ULTA, for those who don't know (and I didn't know until I was taken inside) is a makeup megastore, with aisles filled with cosmetics, hair care products and other beauty-based items.

Given that setup, as you can imagine, the place caters primarily to female clients and the only men who enter are (most likely) ones who have been dragged along to the place by the significant others (which was my case).

Naturally, as most men will agree, a trip to a makeup store isn't exactly a fun way to spend an afternoon. But in terms of bathroom visits, I have to give this place a high marks, except that it's also not a place I would go into without a significant other, if you catch my drift. A single woman going in to use the bathroom is one thing. A single man is another -- it's just plain weird. Though I suppose if I can go into Pottery Barn Kids by myself to use the toilet, I can certainly consider using the one here.... Right? (Well, maybe I need to think about that first.....)

Anyway, as a bathroom, this isn't a bad location. It's a simple one-bagger, a bit oversized (though not as large as the toilet at Pearl, Golden Krust, Famous Phil's Cheesesteaks, or Nona Sushi, among others). At one end is the toilet (with a cleaning drain in front of it), and opposite that is the sink station and paper towel dispenser. No urinal. No wall decor.

The upper walls are white and the lower walls and floor are covered in off-white tile. The sink is stainless steel but the vanity is off-white fiberboard. The garbage can is set beneath the vanity counter and you have to throw your towels and waste through a little hole in the counter, which is familiar but still kind of neat, since it seems like they're trying to do more with the space than what they have to. Except that from the front you can see below the counter and can see some of the cleaning materials and the plunger there.

Not sure why it bothers me, but for some reason I just have a problem viewing cleaning materials in toilets like this. Seems sloppy, for some reason. Not that bad here, but still.....

The toilet is white porcelain and the TP holder beside it is off white and plastic, holding two monster rolls and with a decorative design on the front.

Other than that, there isn't much here except for a lone flimsy hook hanging from the wall opposite the toilet. Why this wasn't attached to the door, I'm not sure, since that seems a better place for it. But it was there and a bit odd-looking.

Also, when I walked in, the place was dark and I had to turn on the light, and it took a little while to illuminate fully, which meant I had to stand in a very clinical-feeling flickering light for a few minutes. Kind of had that "Saw" feel to it, if you know what I mean.

As you can imagine, I was the only guy in the store during my visit, so I experienced a peaceful, wonderful, unhurried time inside. I came out smiling. Can't say the same about the ladies' room, since I didn't visit it, I'm afraid.

Marks out of 10:

8. Not a very flashy place, but if you're the only guy in the store and you're there with your significant other, it's worth a leisurely stop. Bring reading material if you want -- no one will know or hurry you.

Comments to the Management:

Would be nice to see some decor on the walls and have that hook moved and have the front of the vanity covered up so we don't see what's under the sink and fix that slowly brightening light, but these are small quibbles compared to the privacy and peace the places provides the male visitor.

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