European spas offer healing, relaxation
Spaa-aaah! The word alone can make you sigh with pleasure, as you imagine spending a week or more being pampered and indulged. The Czech Republic is ideally situated to take advantage of the myriad of spas all over Europe. The offerings and locations are unique to each spa and give you the opportunity to match the treatments you are looking for with the climate of your choosing.
“Anyone can benefit from a spa, since there are so many different kinds of treatments offered, and many different philosophies,” says Karen Preston, Public Relations Manager for The Leading Spas of the World. The Leading Hotels of the World launched this brand in 2004 as the first international spa evaluation and accreditation program. Different spas offer different experiences, and potential clients should research the types of spas before making a commitment. “The northern European experience is quite different from the Ayurvedic approach,” says Preston. “There are medically-orientated spas, fitness-orientated spas, others that are focused on aesthic treatments.” The Thalassa Spa at the Anassa Hotel in Cyprus combines healing aspects with relaxation benefits at its spa. “We offer the whole approach being of wellness of body and mind,” says Jo Bullock, Spa Manager. “We have a lifestyle consultant, fitness trainer, qi gong, yoga, mediation and Pilates to enhance our treatment menu.”
Knowing what you are looking for during your spa visit is your first challenge. With so many soothing treatments to choose from, how do you know which one to pick? Algotherapy is the use of heated seaweed wraps to relieve pain and stress, whereas balneotherapy is water based, using natural, thermal, mineral or sea water to induce relaxation, improve the circulation system and stimulate the immune system. Thalasso therapy only uses sea water for preventative and curing purposes. Seaweed and algae wraps, as well as other hydrotherapies fall into this category. Fangotherapy uses heated mud treatments to detoxify and soothe muscles. Peat bath is a close cousin, using a natural peat preparation rich in organic materials to relieve pain. You can also take a basic mud bath, which offers your body the opportunity to be coated with organic thermal mud to release tension and smooth the skin. Many of these types of treatments are used to specifically treat an ailment of some sort.
Massage is key to any spa visit, but again, which one is right for you? Swedish massage is probably the most “typical” one, its main goal is to relax muscles and improve circulation using gentle manipulations like long strokes, kneading and tapping. A Thai massage on the other hand, is designed to increase flexibility while decreasing stress. Shiatsu is a traditional Japanese acupressure massage. It’s used to promote relaxation, healing and rejuvenation by applying pressure to center points on the body.
The Lausanne Palace Hotel & Spa in Switzerland has dedicated itself to the spa experience. Spa Manager Emeline Gauer says there are a million reasons to visit a spa, but the CBE Concept Spa at the Lausanne offers some unique treatments. “The CBE offers rejuvenation treatments, Thalassa, harmonizing energies and body treatments,” she says. “The most unique is our Ayurveda Rejuvenation Body Treatment.” Ayurveda is an Indian treatment combining mediation, yoga and herbal essences for a holistic approach to well-being. At CBE, one can have an ayurvedic massage, or Abyanga, which treats both mind and body by focusing on the body’s seven energy centers, or chakras. A Shirodhara is supposed to restore balance to your life by soothing your mind. It involves having a stream of herbal oil poured on your forehead. The Thalassa Spa on the other hand is dedicated to using thalasso therapy. “We have unique treatments using thalasso therapy baths, showers and other treatments which have healing, restorative effects on both the body and mind,” explains Bullock. To complement the thalasso therapy, the spa also offers Thalion treatments. “These treatments include detox, anti-aging, body scrubs and wraps,” says Bullock. “We combine ingredients indigenous to Cyprus with age-old traditions passed down through the generations.”
Of the 85 Leading Spas of the World accredited spas, 33 are in Europe. “More than 200 separate criteria are taken into consideration,” explains Preston about the process spas must go through to become accredited. “From the reservation process to the atmosphere of the treatment room to the farewell.” The program also strives to address such issues as training for spa managers and the individual treatment providers. Be sure to do your homework before booking a stay. Ask about the education and experience of the treatment providers, as well as the hygienic standards. Before your first treatment, be sure to advise the staff of any medical conditions you may have, and if you have certain medical issues, it might be best to check with your doctor before booking any treatments.
Calming, smoothing, rejuvenating. Whatever the end result you are looking for, a spa is the fastest way towards a relaxing restoration of body, mind and spirit.