Swimming among the waterlillies in warm, mineral-rich water is a unique and relaxing experience. In October I enjoyed the outdoor water temperature of 27 degrees celcius, before relaxing in the warmer water inside at 32 degrees celcius. While here, I joined a short queue in the pool where underwater jets gently massaged various parts of the body from calf muscles to shoulders. Lake Heviz covers 4.4 hectares and is the largest biologically active, natural peat-mud thermal lake of volcanic origin in the world.
These thermal baths have only been open a couple of years but are already a great success and you can see why. Japanese influenced in design they have been constructed of attractive rustic stone, slate and wood which blend beautifully with the woodland setting. Open all year round and in the evening as well as during the day they offer something completely different, a chance to relax and enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the waters in an unspoilt natural environment.
Imagine a luxury hotel on a white sandy beach with sparkling blue waters, combined with a fabulous spa with spacious treatment rooms overlooking the ocean and flooded with its reflected light. This isn't an island in the Caribbean, it's a stick-thin peninsula jutting out into the Baltic north of Gdynia. The Bryza is its best hotel and is no secret to the smarter Poles, its main customers together with some Germans and Austrians but very few English guests. Baltic waters are pleasantly and surprisingly warm in summer and the hotel boasts a beach club that looks positively tropical and, on the many hot days of July and August, feels just like it too. On the other side of the peninsula, literally a few minutes walk away, windsurfing and sailing are excellent and the whole family can cycle the trails through the woods that run its length. Fierce battles raged here at the very start and end of WWII but this has been a holiday resort area since between the wars. It has a strange, northern beauty but with (in summer) a balmy southern climate. Delightful.
Beautiful boutique hotel, restaurant and spa where you can take a rest (for both your body and mind) from the mayhem of Bangkok.
If you’re heading to Mallorca for a spring cycling trip, be sure to make Son Brull a beer or food stop on your way back from a ride. Set in the hillside not far from Port de Pollenca, Son Brull is a restored 18th century monastery which has been sensitively converted into a boutique hotel and spa. Cycling up the imposing driveway you find yourself outside a stone courtyard which leads through to the infinity pool and terrace. It is a fantastic spot to end the day in a rather beautiful setting.
Located a few hours’ drive from Toronto, Casino Rama is a large casino with a full-service hotel and entertainment complex that hosts singers, boxing events, and shows, as well as restaurants and bars.
The casino operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With almost 200,000 square foot of entertainment space, this venue has something for everyone: the casino has over 2,500 slot machines and 110 table games, spa and health club facilities, and 10 restaurants ranging from buffet to Italian to noodle house and steak bars. The Life Spa, located in the hotel, features a full complement of offerings: get a therapeutic massage, facial, pedicure or a seasonally themed
organic signature treatment. There is also an indoor pool, steam room, sauna and Jacuzzi.
5899 Rama Road, Rama, Canada
+1 705 329 3325
Google map: bit.ly/UeivtS
* Giulia is our Been there local for Toronto. You can see her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/places/canada/toronto/index.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/GiuliaFalsetti
So Thai Spa is the best day spa in Bangkok and Bangkok is a city full of spas. It is very luxurious and the therapists are all talented and professional. What makes So Thai Spa stand out is the prices, which are very reasonable compared to the competition.
I’ve waxed lyrical about the wonders of foot massage in Hong Kong before. If you’re tired, hungover, jetlagged or all three, 50 minutes of foot massage and I guarantee you’ll be back to your former fabulous self.
While I still love my trusty favourite reflexology spot, Gao’s (see my previous tip), I must admit that I’ve been having a hot little reflexology affair on the side. It’s younger, much better looking and there’s frozen yoghurt involved … For a super luxe, top of the range foot massage experience, nowhere beats Ten Feet Tall.
Perched up on the 20th & 21st floor of the sparkly new, L Place building, Ten Feet Tall opened at the start of the year and became an immediate hit. One visit and I guarantee you'll understand why. Zoom up in the lifts to the sleek white reception area on the 21st floor and you're greeted by a very cool neon Ten Feet Tall sign and a desk of friendly, white-uniformed receptionists. Word of this slice of foot massage heaven has got out, so it’s best to call and book in advance, particularly if you want to bag one of the private rooms (which come complete with day beds and 80” projector screens).
Arrived early? Recline in the little waiting area leafing through the selection of big glossy coffee table books or pick some reading material to accompany your reflexology from the magazine racks stocked with all the latest international fashion, lifestyle and business titles. When it’s time for your appointment you’ll be whisked through to the spa, a warren of cosy little rooms ranging from the ultimate private snug for two to communal rooms which are still über luxe with just eight huge white armchairs separated by billowing gauzy curtains.
For pure indulgence, plump for a private room, nestle into the reclining day bed, and pick from a selection of films or TV channels to have burbling away in the background on the big screen as you have your feet rubbed. Alternatively, bring your iPad and take advantage of the free wifi throughout the spa to surf the web – internet shopping while a therapist is kneading your shoulders, does it get any better?
Yes actually! Before your heavenly treatment starts your therapist proffers a menu of delectable treats to feast on while you’re pampered. No measly mug of hot water here, instead you can have a Fuji Fusion smoothie (banana, strawberries, apples and orange), fresh young coconut or even a frozen yoghurt (including a choice of scrummy toppings).
Sumptuous décor, a myriad of magazines, films and frozen yoghurt but what about the foot massages? Is Ten Feet Tall all style and no substance? Not a bit of it. The miracle working therapists deftly deliver 50 blissed-out minutes of pure indulgence. In fact, if you arrive with heavy eyelids you’ll be napping before you can say dozy. And if you find yourself being gently nudged awake at the end of your treatment, the dregs of your frozen yoghurt melting beside you, there’s really nothing for it but to snuggle back down, order a smoothie and ask your therapist for another 50 minutes …
20/F & 21/F, L Place, 139 Queen's Road
Central, Hong Kong Island
+852 2971 1010
Monday – Sunday 11:00am – 1:00am
(Last Appointment at 12am)
Google map: bit.ly/QtQuwX
* Natalie is our local for Hong Kong. You can read all about her here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/hong-kong-local-natalie-robinson.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/natalierobinson
She also has her own blog at: www.3badmice.com/
Located conveniently and in a quiet location just off the main highway at the mid-point of Bari and Brindisi, Borgo San Marco is a Masseria uniquely restored to capture its originality as a small walled enclave. The details are exquisite without being forced or artificial and there is style. Stay on the upper levels and you can sun or read on private roof terraces or swim in the adjacent infinity pool in the gardens. There is also Borgo Aqua, a private wellness centre but it was summer, so our priorities were elsewhere. You are close to Savelletri, Torre Canne and the undeveloped beaches close to Rosa Marina. Eat in or at one of the fabulous sea-side outdoor restaurants on this side of Savelletri, it is a perfect base to explore this region of Puglia and works for couples and families.
Hotel, Spa and Restaurant, just outside Knutsford at Mere.
Relaxed and friendly hotel, the dinner menu is superb and easily stands comparison with the likes of Jamie Oliver and Andrew Nutter. Breakfasts are substantial; we didn't need to eat for the rest of the day!
Staff are professional, friendly and have their own personalities.
Take a break from sightseeing and indulge in the Roman pastime of thermal spring bathing. There are several spas around Sirmione but I think the best is Acquaria. It's quite new and in a beautiful setting right by the lake. As well as many smaller bathing pools of different temperatures and massage effects, there is a large natural water pool. Swim through the gateway to get to the outdoor pool. Evening is the best time to go as it's cheaper, less crowded and you can swim under the stars and gaze at the twinkling lights on the other side of the lake. We went in winter which was ideal - the hot waters keep you warm for hours afterwards. A word of warning - the water is sulfurous so the stench stays with you for days!
Terme di Sirmione S.p.A. Piazza Virgilio, 1
25019 Colombare di Sirmione (BS)
+39 030 91681
Google map: bit.ly/Lomvuz
There is a set of thermal water pools, icy and clear, and devoid of tourists and roaming public because its off the beaten track. Particularly great when its hot and humid and the beaches are teaming, pick a pool, enjoy the breathtaking ice cold water and live dangerously down small rapids. All ages tend to go there but it could be a bit uneven underfoot for the unsteady.
Follow signposts to Dolce Acqua, from there it's about a 20 minute drive. Park and follow the signs to Pigna, over a rickety stone bridge and and down the side of the water to pick your pool. (Equally accessible from Monaco as it only just over the border.)
Google map: bit.ly/IhEjka
So you're on vacation. You've decided to leave your old self behind for those few days abroad, and try something new, maybe even out of character. And you read about these peculiar Dutch people who have none of the hang-ups associated with being naked that you and your people have, so you are tempted to really shed your skin.
I would suggest there are far worse places to take the plunge than Spa Zuiver located in the south of Amsterdam, an easy 15-20 minute bike ride (bus, car, or cab does the trick as well) from the city center on the edge of a large wooded area called the Amsterdamse Bos.
A boss is hardly what you feel like when you experience - early - the shock of disrobing next to members of the opposite sex in the posh changing rooms. You can hardly get your fluffy robe on fast enough, in fact. Since you've come this far, though, you keep on going. You've spent a cool 35 Euros to get in, after all. Bear in mind, you can't wear your bathing suit - it is actually forbidden. (Though rumour has it - in Dutch - that Tuesdays is optional for bathing wear; best to call or email them for more info on this).
And once you step into the exceptionally well-designed sauna, pool, steam room, wellness area, relaxation beds (water beds!), restaurant, all framed by huge windows overlooking an outdoor pool and garden, with more saunas yet at the far end. This place is the most luxurious and biggest of the saunas you'll find in Amsterdam.
Enter the "special" sauna (in Dutch, opgieting). Common in Scandinavian saunas too, a sauna man creates an experience by waving a towel around the room, pouring ice chips on the rocks (and on the sauna people), and in our man Ado's case, cracking jokes while wearing a sarong. He was hilarious, and helped to ease any tension one might have about sitting nude in a room thigh-to-thigh with dozens of strangers.
The room was jammed, as the special sauna is only on schedule four times per day. The mood in the room was jovial, and not a stitch of clothing was to be seen. At the intermission, Ado led us outside into the 0-degree weather, where we stood steaming and chatting while a table of orange slices was awaiting us. Incredibly funny, unusual, and yet somehow utterly normal.
The rest of the afternoon was spent in various steams and saunas, as well as reading a book in the lounge chairs upstairs.
Vibe: You will see some very attractive people here, wearing nothing more than a smile. Of course, you can't gawk - the Dutch don't, or maybe they are better at hiding it. The mix when I attended was around 70% female to 30% male, an excellent ratio IMHO.
Plenty of not-so-beautiful as well though, so no need to feel intimidated. It's like the real world - you'll look better than many, not as good as some. And when you want to cover up, just head to the restaurant or the relaxations beds, where a robe is mandatory.
Space: Very big - even on the busiest day, you have plenty of room.
Cost: Quite high, and with robe and towels costing extra, plus some food, you could easily spend 60-70 Euros here. Well worth the price of trying on a new side of yourself, however. They do have new hourly rates starting at under 10 Euros.
Overall, Spa Zuiver is worth spending a day-long visit for sure, and if you only have a few hours it is a great way to expel those toxins you might have picked up earlier in the trip. It's a first-class facility.
Koenenkade 8 (Amsterdam Forest)
+31 20 301 0710
Google map: bit.ly/GCQ3B6
* Jeff is our Been there local for Amsterdam. You can read his profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/amsterdam-local-jeff-funnekotter.jsp and follow his tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/jefffunnekotter
No, seriously, it can be done! The Belgian Ardennes is a beautiful region that so many people just drive by without a thought. Several towns have their own small downhill slope and there are miles of cross-country trails through the forests. While the snow is never guaranteed, when it comes it can be in prodigious quantities and of a quality that would stand up to scrutiny anywhere. Just don't expect groomed pistes, and ski early in the day before the Dutch arrive from across the border. When there's no snow, enjoy the walks on the moors (the 'Hautes Fagnes'), sampling the mineral springs, watching the wildlife and trying the local food (often the same thing).
Stay in the eponymous Spa, with its curative waters, and try Thiers des Rexhons www.skispa.be/
Route de Berinzenne - Thier des Rexhons
B- 4900 SPA
+32 90)87 77 30 28
Google map: bit.ly/yjDqA2
Or Mont des Brumes
+32 80 78 54 13
About one hour outside Rome, near the lovely lake and town of Bracciano is the Grand Hotel delle Terme di Stigliano. The hotel is beautiful and the setting in the hills of Lazio very peaceful. You can relax by the huge hotel pool or choose one of the various thermal pools. Spa treatments are available in the hotel, but also in the thermal centre nearby which is open to the public. There have been thermal springs here since Roman times: one of the treatments is in an original Roman Grotto!
A geothermal spa that helps to relax every muscle in your body, cleanse your skin and provide an incredible volcanic setting for all that visit. Spending a day here is rather too easy: the 37–39 °C waters, containing an array of minerals and algae for those aching appendages, are ideal for men and women alike. Even visiting as a 17-year-old, I loved the openness and steam filled surroundings whilst being pampered beyond belief. There is even a hotel on-site so that the tranquility can be extended for as long as you like.
The hotel is the perfect mixture of traditional Austrian and modern facilities. The new design rooms and the spa with indoor and outdoor pool has been a highlight for the whole family. The food was delicious and the hospitality of the family Fischbacher and their hotel team has been outstanding. Just perfect for active families who like to ski in the alps or like to be active in nature in summer.
A fantastic yoga retreat for those who are looking to relax, unwind and let go. Never mind if you are new to yoga; the retreat caters for all levels. Advanced practitioners will enjoy too. relaxing atmosphere, vegetarian food to die for, a range of holistic therapies from Thai yoga massage to acupuncture to reiki from highly professional therapists. In just a couple of days you are miles away from a hectic city lifestyle mentality.
If you really want to experience fantastic health benefits of Ayurveda, go on an ayurvedic retreat. On your day one an ayurvedic doctor will access your health condition and will prescribe a bespoke programme of various ayurvedic treatments including all sorts of massages, herbal baths, your bespoke diet etc. Even chronic serious diseases can be dealt with, not to mention an overall benefit on your mental and emotional health.
Barberyn Reef Ayurveda Resort
Beruwela, Sri Lanka
+94 34 22 76036
Not the most authentic of spas in the city, but it has everything that any reputable spa should: a relaxing atmosphere, with baths of three temperatures, spa jets, a steam room, and all the tea you could wish for. Until the end of August there are appealing offers available too. Enjoy a 90 min circuit and 30 min massage for €25 or 70 min circuit and 20 min massage for €20. Or on week days grab a 2for1 offer of a 90 min circuit (no massage) for just €24 for two people!
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org