Reviews

Healthy Ageing in Austria

Gender Medicine at la pura

gender medicine

Would you like to know your biological age, your allergies, your health forecast? La pura in the Waldviertel region of Austria is a dedicated healthy ageing resort designed exclusively for women.

More than a wellness hotel, the focus at la pura is on slowing the biological clock with treatments formulated to outsmart time. According to research, our age is determined 30 per cent by genetics, the remainder up to us to manage by our lifestyle choices and habits, good or bad. The resort attracts those who want to understand their make-up, identify and change negative lifestyle habits. The emphasis is not on anti but on healthy ageing by embracing and enhancing life‘s journey, not battling against it.

The theory is based on female-specific gender medicine developed by Dr Alexandra Kautzky-Willer of the Medical University of Vienna and healthy ageing programmes managed by Medical Director, Dr Sabine Froehlich, at la pura.  Based on science and proven evidence, ageing topics are individualised and addressed with innovative and sustainable solutions. Results not only determine the biological age, but highlight weak areas and risk factors.

There is a wide range of treatments and programmes which are custom-made and based on diagnostic tests and medical consultations, all in the name of aging gracefully.  Genetic testing tackles pre-dispositions and age-related diseases. A 3D skin analysis scans the skin to reveal collagen loss, sun damage and age. A saliva test detects silent inflammations in the body. Others include testing metabolic function and individual macronutrient needs leading to weight stability and management.  If stress is a factor, there’s mental counselling and relaxing treatments.

Originally built in 1914 as a mansion house, today it stands as a spacious health retreat with 85 guestrooms classically decorated. The Boccaccaio room, a former theatre, is the social heart where afternoon tea is served daily and the host for organised entertainment – a pianist, wine tasting or make-up workshop. Relaxed and  friendly, it’s a space for guests to share their experiences. Just over an hour from Vienna, the retreat lies in the Kamptal valley, with a river running by and a castle silhouette overhead.

The spa includes a choice of saunas, steam rooms & an infra-red cabin. Little exfoliating peeling cups are available, flavoured with mango, vanilla, or even chocolate – a refreshing touch.  And around every corner, relaxation areas appear in different modes, quiet rooms, warmed loungers, alcoves around the indoor pool and outdoor decks.

Prevention is a key component of healthy ageing.  Chinese traditional medicine is practised here as well as natural therapies such as underwater extension therapy, effective for tensions and misaligned sections of the spinal cord. “Healthy Ageing Therapy” is a revitalising manual massage using vaporised herb pouches and warm aromatic oils, individually created. Think almond and sesame oils, together with herbal mixtures of ginger, elderflower, mint and ivy.

Ad hoc botox and fillers are frowned upon. Here cosmetic and aesthetic medicine is based on the results of a Visia Scan, which detects the collagen levels, the depth of lines and wrinkles and the sun damage from which digital results calculate facial age. This test is a scientific qualifier for future and effective treatments which may take the form of thread lifting, fillers or skin rejuvenation with mesotherapy – a vitamin cocktail. A personalised serum is formulated for your skin’s requirements. For arms, legs and abdomens, the aesthetic body treatments target fat cells using suction-wave massage, reducing them via the lymphatic system, followed by an ultrasound and agent treatment to activate a fat-burning process.

Food is an integral part of a stay. The FX Mayr nutritional programme is a popular treatment to detox the intestines and improve digestion. It involves a different approach to eating and appreciating food intake.  Guests following this dine away from temptation in a separate dining room. And to maintain these culinary virtues and encourage diet lifestyle changes, cookery classes are held regularly in the show kitchen.

Guests can follow a low-calorie menu or for those wishing to indulge, dinner is a 4-course affair. Yellow turnip coconut foam soup and salmon with lukewarm orange fennel salad are examples of the creative dishes served.  Breakfast is ultra- healthy with warm millet porridge, spelt pancakes and vegan bircher served with an edible flower garnish – all too good to eat!  The restaurant spills outside, overlooking the square, a peak into everyday life in this sleepy town, known for its singer-song writer, Falco. His monument ornaments the local park.

Classes and activities for mind and body can fill your day with maybe a few new experiences thrown in. Smovey walking is trending – a one up-man-ship on Nordic walking. It involves weighted hand accessories while walking through the park and climbing through the forested area. These bright green loops help with posture and joint mobility and coordination. Along with yoga, a staple in spa resorts, classes include balance, endurance and spine care exercises. The sling workout involves muscle strengthening using ropes to stabilise the body. Days at la pura are interesting, sociable and as busy as you want them to be, including a dip in the River Kamp.

La pura offers that ray of hope to women battling with healthy ageing.It is a place to relax and to find a personalised formula to slow down the ticking clock, inside and out. A wrinkle and a wobble less, a stronger mind, a body and soul in harmony and acceptance.La pura serves a recipe that is effective, holistic and individual – a sustainable form of health prevention and healthy ageing.

la pura women’s health resort kamptal
Hauptplatz 58, 3571 Gars am Kamp, Austria
Tel.: 
+43 2985/26 66-741
Fax.: +43 2985/26 66-745
Mail: 
willkommen@lapura.at or reservierung@lapura.at

The packages:

https://www.lapura.at/en/health/healthy-aging/

https://www.lapura.at/en/health/detox/

The editor was a guest of la pura.

Natural wellness sparkles in Hotel Plunhof’s stylish Spa Minera

Swimming with snowflakes, floating by flames, massaged with stones, pummelled with rollers and immersed in the smoke of burning bark.  Wellness takes on the natural elements at the sparkling new Spa Minera at Hotel Plunhof, peaking out of the Stubai Alps in Italy’s South Tryol region.

It’s lilac and silver, wood and water, glazed with silver quartzite at every viewpoint. Natural elements represent the lifeblood of the spa, its DNA.

And I took full advantage. I likened the experience to swimming in a luxury lounge, the water like a rippled carpet flowing under stairs and dappled with reflections from Swarovski crystal chandeliers glittering from above. I floated by oversized loungers shaded with bulbous table lights, book shelves on one side, a stone log fire in the centre, wood-panelled walls, mirrored pillars and squidgy seating all around. Comfortable tranquillity, understated glitz.

How luxurious to wallow in such exquisite surroundings. Warm, intimate and decadent. And then, just like magic, glass doors opened to an outside poolscape where the snow taps you on the shoulder and a mist disguises the surface. It’s eerie and atmospheric. Towering mountains greet you, nothing in-between, except the water warm, the air refreshingly cool.

Relaxation areas seem to appear around every corner to surprise you, each dressed in a different style, another ambience to enjoy. But finding them a second time is an art in itself. They all offer those please-lie-on-me loungers of every shape and style, rugs in the right place, contemporary fireplaces and enviable panoramic scenery with a focal point towards the Santa Maddalena Church sitting alone enclaved into the side of the mountain.

The hotel is located about an hour from Innsbruck in the Ridanna Valley. It’s a family affair – run by the Volgger family whose personal attention is in evidence from the moment you arrive.  I met Thomas who proudly showed me the spa facilities, just three months old, all sparkly and new. Excitedly he told me of further plans although I was quite content with the stylish spaces they have painstakingly produced. Five saunas, two whirlpools, relaxation areas – too many to count, a fitness room, pools indoor and out and a dedicated room for classes.

With 67 rooms which overlook Alpine scenery, this dedicated wellness space has been designed to incorporate Spa Minera & Acqua Minera, all 4,000 sqm of it.  Here it never seems busy although you may spot a few guests strewn over sofas, strolling in robes or hanging out in the saunas, relaxed and chilled. Guests come here to ski in the winter months – there’s a daily bus to the slopes, – or for bracing hikes in the fresh crisp air. They all enjoy overdoses of pure relaxation, rejuvenation and therapeutic therapies.

The treatment menu reflects the Spa’s focus on natural elements with its creative use of local resources blended with traditional healing principles. My 80-minute massage was performed with pine wood rollers of various sizes delivering pressure and heat as it toured the body. Strong at times, the pressure and warmth re-routed the flow of energy unblocking areas to leave a sense of renewed calm. Billed as Pine Vitality, this relaxing ceremony aims to channel the inner spirit to activate self-healing powers.

From wood to stone, the Silver Quartzite Stone Massage experience was gentle, directional, purposeful and somewhat spiritual. In the background, haunting chants, as if resonating from a monastery chamber, kept my focus in the moment while long rhythmic strokes would halt periodically to grind energy in chakra areas and then swiftly sweep away negative residue. Enhanced by the burning of bark shavings, this meridian massage, combined  precious natural minerals with medicinal herbs, warm oils and raw materials to leave me released of negative feeling, grounded and strong.

Heat, water and steam, ancient bathing rituals, Kneipp pools, infra-red cabinets, a shower temple, a thermal grotto and saunas of every kind are plentiful here. Temperatures range from ice cold, mild, hot and only just bearably hot.  The revived ancient ritual “Thrown into the Knappensauna” is featured on the daily programme and not to be missed, It involves very hot temperatures in a large sauna cabin, au natural, save for a few towels. A staff member, acting like a central courtier parades around the central burning coals sporting a large fan to direct hotter air over each person. Red in the face, sizzling by the second, we brave souls lasted the 15 minute experience to be rewarded with a barefoot stroll in the outside snow followed by salt peeling in the steam room. All this to cleanse the skin, stimulate circulation, loosen joints, exfoliate the skin surface and improve the immune system…..

From tried and tested organic resources to the latest technology, The Spa Minera has moved with the times to offer a wide range of advanced cosmetic treatments.  The Dr Spiller Celltresor Facial followed an in-depth regime which included a machine-controlled cleanse and a serum massage followed by a collagen mask which felt and looked like an Egyptian mummy covering. The result, a thorough treatment and a plumper look! This facial is designed to maximize the skin’s rejuvenation by targeting muscles to relax facial features.

Qi Gong  and Yoga, exercise and wellness all have to be nourished and the Hotel’s restaurant does it well. Inventive menus, organic ingredients and a balanced fusion of tastes are a match to any high class establishment. Think venison steak with cranberry pear served with red sauerkraut with apples and polenta cream, roasted suckling pig cup with beer jus or guinea fowl with figs – exotic descriptions, plated artistically and served to your reserved table. In addition, a choice of irresistible desserts and a buffet area ever laden with homemade artisan breads, fresh produce and, homemade oils and dressings.  So much choice, an occasion in itself, a restaurant to be rewarded.

Spa Minera has borrowed wellness from Mother Nature. “Back to the origins… the force of the earth and the might of the stone” are the words inscribed on the glass window – wellness instilled in its structure, soul and spirit.

Hotel Plunhof is a member of Niche Destinations  www.niche-destinations.com

Prices for a double room Minera – from €118 pp sharing including half board and use of Spa Minera

Hotel Plunhof, Family Volgger, Obere Gasse 7, 39040 Ridnaun – Ratschings, Italy. Tel.:+ 39 0472 656247. info@plunhof.it     

www.plunhof.it

Wellness On The Rock

Wellness comes in many forms. It maybe the calming waters of a floating cruise liner, a relaxing treatment in a spa or a cultural experience to revitalise the mind. A change is as good as a rest so add to these experiences a gigantic rock as a backdrop on British territory and luxury accommodation aboard a yacht hotel. Welcome to Gibraltar and to the Sunborn Yacht Hotel.

Gibraltar is often described as the Cradle of History with numerous statues and memorials to salute its past. There are 30 miles of World War tunnels snaking within the rock, a spectacular cave underneath, dolphins circling,  Barbary apes prying, playing and monkeying around and a cable car ascending its side.

The Rock, Gibraltar’s signature feature, is mostly formed from Jurassic limestone dating over 200 million years. Steep, narrow roads, originally built for donkeys and carts, twist to the upper rock allowing only registered taxis and mini-buses to transport visitors, although weather permitting, the cable car is another option. The journey, whatever form of transport used, is rewarded with enviable scenery.

Clad in hard hats, the series of guided Tunnel tours are fascinating  and factual and should be on the must-do list. They include The Great Siege Tunnels and can take up to 3 hours. The  Mediterranean Steps walk is not for the faint-hearted but avoid carrying food – the monkeys will find it and will throw in free entertainment along the way. The Skywalk, opened by Mark Hamill from Star Wars fame in March 2018, is another look-out spot to take in stunning vistas.

There are various organised tours which include the fishing village of Catalin Bay, Europa Point, the Mosque, the Moorish Castle and St Michael’s cave with a secret underground lake. As for wildlife, Gibraltar’s position between Europe and Africa, the Atlantic and Mediterranean make it an important crossing point for migrating birds, whales and dolphins.

The old fortress walls surround the city with gate archways into Casemates Square which is dotted with restaurants and bars leading to Main Street the artery for shopping where familiar signs for M&S, Shepherds Pie and Morrisons are giveaway clues to its Britishness. Sean Connery and John Lennon were married here and  today, it’s the place to choose if you are in a hurry!

But if you don’t want to travel around the Rock, then you can get a better view watching the opening sequence of James Bond’s Living Daylights, part of which was filmed here or better still you can gaze up at its imposing height and stature from your own private cabin balcony.

The 5* Sunborn Hotel certainly has the novelty factor and is an attraction in itself, floating aside Ocean Village, the harbour district of Gibraltar and can easily be spotted as your plane comes into land.  Built in the design of an ocean cruiser, complete with engines and a bridge, it was the first of its kind and has a permanent residency here.

Although constructed 5 years ago, it still looks and feels new, providing a convenient place to explore Gibraltar with views over the sea to Spain and Morocco. It’s easy to find and very convenient –  just turn left out of the airport, cross the runway, (along with the other 6,000 Spanish and expats), then turn right to a gleaming white yacht hotel.

The entrance is like walking into Swarovski headquarters with a glittering backdrop headlining the reception desk populated with staff wearing welcoming smiles, keen to show off the floating services.

The corridors are wide, fitted with carpets that foot a jazzy design leading to rooms and suites, not cabins. All tastefully designed with quality furnishings, marble modern bathrooms and laced with technology that command a lesson to operate the drapes, lights and sound. And although there are several room types, surprisingly, the most popular are those with views over the runway!

The Sunborn is also an entertainment hub, offering performances from tribute bands, comedy shows  and a Fawlty Towers act which take place in its La Sala Restaurant & Bar. Here  there’s a good choice on the menu, ranging from a Full Rack of BBQ Jack Daniel Pork Ribs, Crispy Won Toon Lasagne to Lamb with Cocoa, Chilli and Watermelon Pico de Gallo while there is a dedicated list of British classics such as Beer Battered Fish and Chips and Surf & Turf for those wanting to feel more at home.  Service is excellent, dishes generous and attractively presented.

Breakfast, buffet style, is served on the top deck in the Barbary Restaurant which it shares with a small outdoor pool and the Aqua Bar all with outlooks over the marina, the Med and the 1400-ft high Rock.

After climbing the Rock, exploring tunnels, VAT-free shopping, dodging monkeys and with a brain overload of historical facts, R&R awaits in the Infinity Spa onboard with  a range of Elemis coated treatments, a sauna to sooth tired muscles, a fitness area to tone and strengthen the body and the Admiral Casino to try your luck.

There’s more to Gibraltar than the Rock and more to an ocean cruiser than sailing.

Visit:  www.sunborngibraltar.com

Visit:  www.visitgibraltar.gi

Cocooned in comfort at Rudding Park & Spa

Rudding Park

There are cloisters and cobbled streets, a castle and listed Church, leafy Georgian avenues and Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms, according to my online research. Harrogate, is a Victorian Spa town and in its heyday a sought-after fashionable resort with curative spring waters. And a Yorkshire must-see. Sadly, however, I didn’t quite manage the short journey from my country house hideaway. I was, instead, cushioned in the comfort embrace of Rudding Park & Spa which sits proudly on the outskirts, perched amid 300 acres of undulating countryside.

Harrogate’s Royal Pump Room was built in1842 to provide shelter for the town’s affluent visitors as they took the famous waters. My surroundings, in contrast, are somewhat different. Contemporary styling, flashes of zany designs in bold colours hold court while individual art structures are dotted around bringing interest to corners and entrances of this 90-room hotel with a signature spa area that flows over three floors that can only be described as modern, airy, high-tech, cool and glitzy.

RP_Spa_D2_663

Hotel Library at Rudding Park Hotel, Spa & Golf

And moody….each level of the spa exudes a defined ambience amid a creative mix of hydrotherapy and thermotherapy experiences. On the uppermost level, an air of excitement emanates from the roof-top heated pool which overlooks mature garden areas.  Guests giggle with sheer delight sipping a glass of bubbly with water splashing from jets into fine layers of mist lacing the surface creating an atmosphere more like Iceland than England. Come rain or shine, the cabanas extend the refreshing outdoor experiences or the garden sauna cabin for a little heat. Back inside, the focus moves first to the feet with a row of individual foot spas and then to the whole-body warmth of the herbal bath and luxury steam rooms.

Roof Top Spa Garden, Spa Bath, Sauna Cabin

Luxury Steam Room

Next level down boasts a tempting indoor swimming pool in a light, elegant space with a juniper log sauna on standby as well as a room set up for mud rasul rituals.  It’s all peace and tranquillity below with a number of treatment rooms and relaxation areas. Here you can snuggle up on squishy sofa chairs against the backdrop of scenic video footage on an oversized screen. Serenity flows into a twinkling-lit room with reclined beds, an audio room to meditate or a lounge for a little colouring therapy to reset the mind. Quiet, still, calm.

Indoor pool 4

Sleep Zone 1

The menu of treatments is wide ranging and varied from Carita Cinetic Lift Facials, a Pearl & Jasmine Body Renewal which uses mineral-rich Himalayan salt crystals, a chakra wellbeing massage, or for those living with and beyond cancer, a range of Jennifer Young treatments.

I chose the thermal detox wrap and suffice to say, it was both relaxing and effective. The Spa has won a number of awards and has cleverly combined treatments with dining options in an array of packages to suit individuals and groups alike.

All this relaxation and revitalisation whets the appetite especially for a dish or two of fine dining. The Horte Restaurant serves up artistic displays in delicate portions oozing with flavours in its chef’s 7-course tasting menu with optional wine pairings.

Once relaxed, the gym is available to tone the muscles while a private cinema room offers a little distraction. With two restaurants, tastefully furnished guest rooms with all the facilities you need, a stay here will keep you occupied in unhurried relaxation.

Rudding-13

Back in 1571, the first mineral spring was discovered christening Harrogate as the place of healing waters. Today, the privately-owned Rudding Park & Spa has stolen the title for restoring the mind and revitalising the body but that’s no excuse for not visiting this Victorian Spa town – I will next time.

Visit: https://www.ruddingpark.co.uk

 

 

The Healthy Shores of Majorca & Ibiza

GM-3021-MA

building-500295_1920

Against a backdrop of sunshine, beaches, culture and gastronomy, the Balearic islands are prescribing medicinal additives to visitor experiences in the form of health tourism.  From sports physiotherapy, fertility, dentistry, ophthalmology, preventive medicine, to dialysis facilities and increased private medical services, the islands have plans to open windows to wellness and health tourism.

The islands, favoured by many British holidaymakers, are forecasting a healthy future with a range of health and wellness treatments, activities and services with new well-equipped private clinics and hospitals, multi-lingual staff and medical service companies designed to take care of international visitors of all ages and needs.

Tennis star, Rafal Nadal is leading the way with sports rehabilitation as well as a champion training academy with an impressive centre on the eastern side of Majorca. As a native resident he opened the centre in June 2016, designed for aspiring young players as well as adults offering stylish accommodation for its range of residential programmes. His museum is also well worth a visit.

Private hospitals on the islands include The Hospital de Llevant in Porto Cristo, the only private hospital on the eastern side, with multi-lingual staff and a range of specialists to meet seasonal demands. Here there is a separate building for the new Porto Cristo Dialysis Centre while the aesthetic unit offers treatments for hair loss, weight problems and cosmetic procedures. Built originally as a retirement residence, the rooms are generous in space, complete with sea views and balcony. The Clínica Rotger, part of the Quironsalud group, is modern and well-equipped with six consulting rooms located around the island. The hospital recently introduced new services in oncology, dermatology, and dermo aesthetic treatments and has a fifth floor to make any patient feel better with views over Palma and contemporary art dotted around.  Clinica Juaneda is a multi-service hospital with 90 specialised doctors covering all medical specialties and a dedicated international medical centre. And with the increasing international demand for assisted reproduction, Majorca has a modern IVI clinic.

Specialised, well-equipped dialysis clinics with professional medical teams are encouraging patients to travel to Majorca for that well-needed break where scheduled treatments can be combined with interesting, cultured itineraries in a sunny climate.

On the island of Ibiza, the Policlinica Nuestra Señora Del Rosario has 70 rooms, an intensive care unit, emergency room and three outpatient centres on the island with more than 40 medical specialties and two physiotherapy and rehabilitation centres.  Its VIP area is independent from the hospital and benefits from a private entrance.

Trendy destinations attract the fashionable & health conscious travellers who wants to look good all year round. Private, certified aesthetic clinics, managed by registered professionals are catering for this growing market so the health tourists can feel assured they are in safe hands. On the island of Ibiza, Eiviluxury, a small, compact clinic is apace with the latest, fashionable treatments for its party-going stylish clientele who frequent the island’s rhythms especially in high season or reside in their second homes. Led by Dr. María Bufí, the variety of treatments include heavy metal body checks, ozone therapies, gynaecological treatments, hair implants and varicose vein removal using the latest technology performed by visiting doctors who are experts in their field.  The Eiviestetic plastic surgery and aesthetic medicine centre, part of Policlinica Nuestra Señora Rosario, also offers a safe answer to aesthetic treatments ranging from tattoo removal by laser, intimate wellness and the new Profound System,a one off non-invasive lifting treatment.

Health blended with a generous dose of tourism makes for a good holiday remedy while regional colourful cuisine serves up healthy Mediterranean flavours. Restaurants in Palma such as Cuit and Fabiola Gastronomic Garden are fine examples while Can March in Manacor is a rustic family inn, popular with the locals.  On Ibiza, you can dine in one of the oldest restaurants at Restaurante Ca N’Alfredo in its centre or at Calma which enjoys views over the marina. There is a good choice of accommodation in season such as the Valparaiso Palace and Spa which commands enviable views over Palma Bay.

Majorca is the largest of the Balearic islands with Palma as its heart. Here you can delve into its history by strolling along cobbled lanes, passing hidden courtyards with glimpses to imperial staircases and buildings proudly displaying their signature coat of arms.  Overlooking the sea is the imposing ornate Gothic Cathedral  with a vast rose window and wrought iron canopy by Gaudi. Away from Palma is the pretty village of Valldemossa set in the Tramuntana mountains and worth the short drive to enjoy the alley ways, stone houses dressed with hanging flower baskets and the 13thcentury monastery where the musician Chopin stayed.  A trip to Porto Cristo leads to an enchanting harbour with coves and caves and the world’s largest underground lake system.

The depth of history on the island of Ibiza is cloaked within the fortified city walls of Dalt Vila, a world heritage site. Its muscular gates lead to uneven pathways, interrupted by bastions, and commemorative plaques revealing past tales and factual statements. Routes climb to the top to admire the views of modern Ibiza, a strong contrast from the old stone walls to the glitzy marina developments and the cosmopolitan retail world of Zara, Rolex watches and new boutique hotels such as the Gran Hotel, Montesol, renovated within a neo-colonial building

As the trend increases in wellness and health tourism, watch out for the healthy glow around these islands and the added restorative and medicinal tonics to holiday experiences. There’s more than fiestas and siestas in the Balearics.

https://illesbalears.travel/en/baleares/health-and-wellnes/

health tourism in the Balaerics

Medical tourism

 

Yoga by the shore

Health tourism activities

Read here for more news on medical tourism

River Cruising to Health

AmaSonata_Exterior

A flute of sparkling wine or a glass of healing gemstone water, circuit training, yoga flow or afternoon tea? Tricky decisions. A fast-paced Vienna walking tour, a castle hill hike in Passau, an 18-mile bike tour to Durnstein, a gentle evening stroll with wine tasting in Krems or a Vilshofen Organ Concert & Beer Underworld Tour. These were the choices I faced on my first wellness river cruise through Germany and Austria on the AmaSonata, one of 19 ships belonging to AmaWaterways.

Wellness is the new wave in river cruising and floated into creative itineraries with a dedicated wellness host at the helm. The preconception of a sedate meander along the river has long passed by and washed ashore. Today, this trendy mode of holidaying involves daily visits to interesting places and cities interspersed with optional wellness activities onboard and indulging in fine wines and gourmet cuisine.

A Fortress Hike in Durnstein, a bike ride along the Danube, a resistance band or Zumba class. Active or gentle, competitive or a complete beginner, from early morning stretch, posture workout, to laps around the jogging track, activities have been designed for all age groups and fitness levels. If classes don’t appeal, there’s a gym, compact as it may be, Nordic sticks for hiking trails ashore, walking tours at paces to suit, a spa offering a handful of massage treatments and lectures on lifestyle wellness. But it was cycling that won the popular vote. Many of my fellow sailors chose rides along the Danube’s river paths,  the more adventurous cycling the cobbled streets and  narrow passageways on guided city tours while the longer rides haloed the fittest amongst us.

Bicycle_Tour_in_Durstein_Austria

Ashore, it was culture in abundance. History echoed through stone passageways, etched on walls, recalled in painful truths and humbling stories, crafted in statues, exposed in Baroque and Gothic architecture, shrouded in monasteries and celebrated in jaw-dropping cathedrals. Our route along the Danube cruised from Nuremberg to Vienna, each port of call having a narrative to tell. The Nuremberg trials and Courtroom, the countless listed buildings and commemorative stumbling stones in Regensburg, the world’s largest pipe organ in Passau’s St. Stephens Cathedral and Richard The Lionheart’s imprisonment in Durnstein.  We visited Mondsee, famous for its appearance in The Sound of Music, Linz, the UNESCO city of media arts, the awe-inspiring Benedictine Abbey in Melk ending in Vienna, the capital, personified by the Blue Danube waltz, gilded palaces and gold statue of Strauss, its state opera, rich chocolate Sachertorte, The Spanish Riding School and St. Stephens Cathedral cradled in its centre.

Quietening the mind is an easy pastime on a ship which glides along calm waters bordered by lush green river banks  – silent, still and serene. Relaxing on the sundeck, roads track us from the side, trains play hide and seek as they hiss between trees and hills, speed boats whizz pass and barges lug past dragging  their heavy cargo.  Pressures of everyday life drift downstream.

The scenery from a river cruise is just as one imagines and vibrant in sunlight.  Paths zig-zagging across the mountainside, boats moored onto private jetties, villages centred by steepled churches and families waving as they share picnics and homemade lemonade.

AmaPrima in Passau (Danube)AmaPrima - Amawaterways

The commentary along the Danube adds a historical date or two, dotted with colourful myths and fables. We see castles still standing, reminding us of Rapunzel-like fairy tales while others lie in ruins. Terraced grooves folded into the landscape define the Wachau Valley wine region complemented with a climate ripe for harvesting  apricots. The secluded inlets carved into the riverbed provide sanctuary for wildlife from river traffic while the locks and low bridges offer a different dimension to our voyage.

Dining is another attractive pursuit offering a good variety of fine dining menus for lunch and dinner with a guide to healthier options. Local and regional dishes are integrated into daily choices with some themed events to add a little theatre to the experience. The Chef’s Table boutique restaurant offers a taster menu, all complemented with wine recommendations. The waiters, as with most of the crew are eager to serve, some with distinguishable personalities, all with an appetite for high standards.  Post dinner, the entertainment takes to the floor with renditions from a West End singer, melodies on the piano, costumed operatta  and jiving into the early hours, offering music for all palettes.

AmaSonata_MainDiningRoom

On board, the atmosphere is convivial and with 160 passengers it’s easy to forge friendships in a short time. Conversation centres around cultural experiences ashore while wellness activities draw individuals together, motivating and sharing achievements. Dotted with miniature orange trees and table orchids, the AmaSonata is tastefully decorated and contemporary in style.

Before disembarking, we are informed of the launch next year of the AmaMagna, a revolutionary new style double-width river ship, with a Zen Wellness Studio and water sports platform. So, with more wellness activities, more choices,  I decide to be better prepared for my next wellness cruise as I enjoy a farewell glass of healing gemstone water.

For more information about AmaWaterways or to book go to www.amawaterways.co.uk, call tel: 0800 320 2335 or visit your local travel agent.

About AmaWaterways:

Family-owned, AmaWaterways is headquartered in, California with offices in Switzerland and the U.K. It provides river cruise holidays on 19 ships, sailing along the waterways of Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia.

Next year the company will launch three ships. The AmaMora, will offer a choice of itineraries on the Rhine, while the smaller, more intimate AmaDouro makes her debut on Portugal and Spain’s Douro River.The revolutionary AmaMagna will also enter service in May 2019. She will offer an unprecedented range of facilities including a choice of restaurants, Zen Wellness Studio and water sports platform as well as offering far more personal space than traditional river cruise ships.

From  Summer 2019, the Wellness Programme will be offered across the European fleet (excluding Douro).

AmaMagna_Exterior_rend_04_FULL

Ayurveda, the European way

Ayurveda-Resort-Sonnhof_Honig-Sauna-mit-Lounge_02

Editor’s Review

It has been a very busy year so far and it’s starting to show. I’m eating more of the wrong foods to cope with looming deadlines, my mobile takes priority, my weight is nudging the scales and my skin has lost that freshness. I have no time to just be….

Is this just me or are we losing a sense of our existence, how we feel, how we view the world, who we are. Is there a disconnect between mind, body and spirit? Are we e-people, controlled by technology?

Slow forward to the gentle slopes of Austria, where church bells ring in synchrony with the collar bells attached to goats grazing. Where the Alps form a protective wrapping around the landscape – unpolluted air, solitude, silence. What better setting for an Ayurveda Resort amidst this cradle of tranquillity and peace in Hinterthiersee.

I was visiting for four days for a dose of holistic healing, European style, which meant local and seasonal food,  a western interpretation of treatments and, best of all, no jet-lag.

First was a consultation with the resident Ayurvedic doctor who proved intuitive and impressive in his pulse diagnosis and lifestyle evaluation. He delivered an accurate, informative assessment both with humour and an in-depth knowledge of Ayurvedic doctrines and healings. Based on my particular symptoms and constitution, a therapy plan was created which  combined herbal medicine, a nutrition programme with detox and supportive treatments.

Ayurveda is a system of medicine with historical roots in the  Indian subcontinent. It is the oldest form of medical science based upon the body’s protection of life against negative effects. Put simply, changes in the composition of the natural elements inherent within and around us  affect our health. When our “doshas” (bio-energies) are disturbed, the body becomes imbalanced,  causing illness. Diagnostic ayurvedic treatments can help to restore the body.

A salt rub is not for the faint-hearted, it’s vigorous and stimulating. Known as Upana, this Alpine scrub is used to release stressful energy and strengthen the immune system in preparation for cleansing and detoxing.  Its effects are then sealed in with a sauna visit.

The spa area houses a number of saunas differentiated by heat temperature and purpose.  The Kapha is a detoxifying steam bath, the Pitta a herb and clay sauna while the Vata is denoted as the gemstone and saltwater therapy.  There are several infra-red cabins,  a small gym, an indoor pool and various relaxation areas.

The resort exudes calm and intimacy which is visually reflected by a décor which splashes the colour purple alongside local timber panels to create an earthy feel.  Spiritual energy seems to ooze from buddha statues and handcrafted sculptures dotted around.

Meal times are quiet and pleasant. Each guest has an assigned table, a daily personalised agenda with personal encouragement and affirmations which I would read at regular times during the day. I would also peep enviably at those guests not following a specific programme – enjoying  seasonal, colourful dishes, artistically presented. For those of us on a stricter regime, the simple delicate detox dishes were served with encouragement and a knowing smile.

I was prepared for the  “purging cocktail” concocted to rid the body of toxins and waste products. It was administered by the medical team on the second day – so no cheating was allowed.  The remainder of the morning was confined to the room and close to the much needed facilities. I was grateful for the distraction of the mountain views from the balcony. Later, a belly massage continued the process, a treatment designed to strengthen and detoxify the tissues and release any blockages.

No caffeine, no sweet treats. I was suffering from a headache and tiredness from the previous day, natural reactions I was assured to a detoxification process. But to my delight, a head and body massage was on the day’s agenda, very timely. Billed as Shirodhara, this treatment is a traditional head treatment and body massage specifically to relieve stress-relating symptoms and it worked.

The atmosphere is cosy, friendly and supportive. Guests share their experiences in a positive light and are sympathetic to the effects endured. Many guests return  here for their annual MOT, some travel with supportive partners but most are alone. Days can be active with Yoga, Pilates, Qi Gong, Tai Chi walks, forest bathing and lectures, all providing a social opportunity or non-verbal company.

Guest rooms are tastefully furnished with amenities needed for this type of stay – a hot water bottle to help with liver detox and flasks for hot water, thoughtful and considerate, just like home!  And with 30 rooms and a staff of 50, service levels are high. The therapists are trained and conversant in the European Ayurveda discipline. Those I met monitored my progress along my ayurvedic journey.

When I left this inner sanctum to join the outside world, I felt consciously transformed, lighter in weight and freer of worries. My mind was now connected to my body and spirt.  The church bells seemed to be louder and more in tune and I noticed more goats munching  on the Austrian Alps. Ayurveda maybe ancient but it remains even more relevant today.

There are direct flights from the UK to Innsbruck and a one hour drive from the airport by taxi

Prices for a 7-day Pancha Karma programme are priced from € 1,525 excl. accommodation, single rooms from €166 pp/pn

European Ayurveda Resort Sonnhof, Tyrol, Austria www.sonnhof-ayurveda.at

European Ayurveda Resort Sonnhof is included in the niche destinations distinctive portfolio www.niche-destinations.com

Ayurveda-Resort-Sonnhof_Wintergarten-Indra-Garden_01

Ayurveda-Resort-Sonnhof_Energiegarten-Shiva-Shakti-Biotop_01_

Ayurveda-Resort-Sonnhof_Juniorsuite-Sonnhof-Spirit_01

 

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW SERIES: FACIAL REJUVENATION

Dr. David M. Alessi (Picture 1)

THE HEALTHCARE HOLIDAY -EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS 

INTERVIEWEE: DAVID ALESSI – ALESSI INSTITUTE

TOPIC: FACIAL REJUVENATION

As facial rejuvenation is increasingly becoming a sought-after cosmetic treatment, The Healthcare Holiday wanted to seek professional advice to share with you We contacted Dr Alessi, a renowned facial plastic surgeon, based in Beverly Hills, CA.

In this interview Dr Alessi offers his views on procedures and what to look out for when choosing treatments and practitioners.

QUESTION: Non-surgical facelifts and facial rejuvenation procedures are increasingly popular in today’s vanity–focused social world. What would your advice be to those considering these procedures but are concerned about undesirable results?

ANSWER: My advice to those considering any kind of facial rejuvenation procedure, whether surgical or non-surgical would be to go to an expert. These procedures are becoming very common but also, the number of doctors doing them is increasing, and many of them are not well-trained. Always look for Board Certification and primarily in the American Board of Facial Plastic Surgery or the American Board of Surgery. Non-surgical procedures should always be done first (if at all possible) because the chance for a bad outcome would be lower with a non-surgical procedure. There are many non-surgical procedures that are great such as: Profound that can tighten the skin, fillers such as Voluma to fill in the sunken look that occurs with the aging process. In terms of invasive procedures those that are the least invasive should always be done first. Everybody is an individual and no surgeon should use a cookie-cutter approach to every patient. It depends on what the patients concerns are, the surgeons to listen to the patient and come up with a surgical plan, or a non-surgical plan that the patient agrees with and fully understands.

QUESTION:  You are renowned for your “natural looking” results. How do you achieve this? Does this stem mainly from your technique, experience and products you use?

ANSWER: In terms of obtaining ‘natural results’ it’s mainly by understanding anatomy and beauty, and not cutting corners. For example: when doing a neck lift or a face-lift, many surgeons will cut corners by only pulling back the skin. That will give a ‘too-tight’ appearance and an Old Hollywood Actress appearance to their look. For facial rejuvenation surgically, as somebody ages not only does their skin sag but also their fat and muscle will sag at the same time. These all need to be put back into place to achieve a very natural look. Also understanding the aging process and putting things back to where they were when the individual was younger is very important. It’s not just about tightening skin but also to reconstruct the underlying structures.

QUESTION: Botox v fillers: What are your views on these procedures? How long do the results last and is there any medical research to indicate that repeated treatments can be detrimental to health?

ANSWER: These are both very safe procedures and they do different things. Botox is for lines that are there part of the time, such as the lines in between the brows and the forehead that contract with muscular movement. The best uses for Botox would be forehead lines, the lines in between the eyes, and crow’s feet. We also use Botox to make the eyes a little bit bigger, and also to help keep somebody’s mouth look like its slightly smiling rather than looking like a fish mouth. There is no evidence to suggest that any repeated use of Botox or fillers can be detrimental to health. There is no incidents of cancers, or other medical problems occurring because of these fillers, assuming the individual does not have an allergy to the fillers or the Botox. Fillers are used for filling in lines that are there all the time such as the lines by the nose that go to the corner of the mouth, called the nasolabial folds, or for noses that have a defect in the bridge that needs to be filled out a little bit. It can also be used for the Tear Trough that is underneath the eyes (which gives a hollowness to the eyes), to fill out lips, or it can be used to make hands look younger, and there’s multiple other uses. Most of the fillers used nowadays are made out of a Hyaluronic acid. The neat thing about these fillers is that if the result isn’t exactly what the patient wants then it can be dissolved easily. There are different types of Hyaluronic acid depending on how cross-linked they are, and will change how long the substance will be in there. It also changes the consistency as to whether or not it’s thick or thin. Thicker fillers are used for deeper correction such as giving new cheekbones, and nasolabial folds. Thinner fillers are used for underneath the eyes and for the lips. These are done very frequently and an expert of hands can be a wonderful result for patients. In terms of fillers we actually do a lot of fat injections. Fat will function just as any other filler except the only issue with fat is that sometimes the fat can go away. However with better processing of the fat, the chance of the fat surviving for a long-term or forever, is much higher.

QUESTION: Being at the forefront of this area of the medical profession, can you provide any insight on new developments?

ANSWER: In terms of any new developments in medic procedures, there are better and longer lasting fillers. There is still the search for the perfect filler that is one that will last forever but can be dissolved very easily. Also, there is research in terms of neurotypes of Botox-like substances that will last for longer periods of time. There is research on topical Botox that will avoid the use of needles. Additionally, there is more research on better types of radio frequency that can tighten the skin non-invasively.

QUESTION: We all want to keep our skin looking as young as possible for as long as possible – what is essential for our daily skin regime.

ANSWER: In terms of keeping your skin looking as young as possible, for as long as possible, the four things you need to do are: 1) moisturize; 2) stay out of the sun; 3) avoid stress and; 4) don’t smoke. Also hormonal changes especially pre-menopause or menopause can have a detrimental effect on the skin. Hormonal replacement therapy is a wonderful treatment to keep your skin looking as young as possible for as long as possible. Basically, if somebody follows the four main points above, then the skin will look great for a long time. In terms of moisturizers there are many different types. Our studies show that our skincare line performs very well however the main factor is not the cream itself, but the fact that the skin is staying moist. Antioxidants can be very useful in helping to inhibit sun damage and free-radical damage, and that is what we have in our creams as well as in other creams.

QUESTION: I note that you have a residency at Niyama Private Islands Maldives, from 25 March – 5 April 2018, can you tell us why you have chosen this location?

ANSWER: We have chosen a residency at Niyama Private Islands because we have been to the Maldives several times and in fact this will be our 10th time there. The owner of the hotel discussed the opportunity of me performing more simple procedures such as Botox; fillers, Kybella at the resort. We are exploring the possibility of doing this on a bigger scale where we can even do surgeries and have this as a destination resort for recovery, not only from surgery and cosmetic procedures but also for overall health and wellness. The Maldives is one of the most spectacular creations in the world that we have been to, and given that we travel everywhere for a hobby, I think this means something.

QUESTION: Do you have a Practice in London or plan to in the future?

ANSWER: This has always been a consideration. My wife is British, being from the Highlands in Scotland, so ideally we would love to do this. Although practically to run an office in Beverly Hills, as well as in Dubai, with the periodic residency in the Maldives, this takes up a considerable amount of time. So we will have to see how we could possibly fit this into our schedule.

QUESTION: Would you provide a general quote on the key benefits of non-surgical facelifts for those seeking age-defying procedures?

ANSWER: Our preferences is the Profound RF. Procedures such as Ulthera and Thermage help somewhat with many patients noticing a subtle result, very few noticing the home run, and several patients, especially with Ulthera, not noticing any results at all. The Profound (in our opinion) is the best way to tighten the skin non-surgically. Everybody seems to have a result, and sometimes the results are spectacular. Combining this with Botox, resurfacing the face with a fractionated CO2 Laser, and fillers, can completely rejuvenate ones appearance without surgery. The results can be remarkable.

QUESTION: And finally, you are described as a “beauty whisperer to the stars”. We would like to hear more about this!

ANSWER: It’s basically because of where I’m located. I feel I do very good work and since I work in Beverly Hills where all of these stars seem to live, they come to trust me to give them advice in terms of beauty, and maintaining their beauty. It’s a special niche in terms of that they need to look natural and normal on television, without looking like they’ve had anything done. We will often adjust our Botox so that it will not affect the roles that they are doing. For example, comedians need to have more action in their eyebrows than perhaps for someone who is doing more dramatic work. In addition we will consult with their managers and casting directors to see if any of the changes we are considering will have any impact on the types of roles they may be getting.

Chewing Over A Modern Mayr Cure at Park Igls, Austria

Parkhotel-Igls_Relaxation-area_sauna_01

My happiest New Year fantasy is to wake up back at the Park Igls Hotel in the Austrian Tyrol, all set to be cosily eased into a Modern Mayr Cure – making me healthier, fitter & thinner for 2018!

The traditional FX Mayr Cure was the stuff of legend. Devised in the 1920’s by Austrian doctor Franz Xaver Mayr, it was based on his then, highly innovative theory that good gut health is critical to our all-round wellbeing.

Zoom forward almost a century and current major research into chronic modern diseases show that Mayr’s thinking was well ahead of his time. Experts now predict that the science of gut health will be a medical game changer – creating a radical new approach to many major conditions, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease.

The traditional FX Mayr Cure is based on a Spartan regime of stale rolls, milk, water,  massage and exercise – and has become famously effective as a super swift and safe way to de-tox and lose weight. As such, it’s also become the well-beloved secret weapon of many of the world’s most famous faces.

Happily, however, for those of us not big on hard-core deprivation, Park Igls has devised a gentler version: The Modern Mayr Cure is a bespoke programme of diet, exercise, abdominal massage, treatments, coaching and state-of-the-art medical tests and diagnostics –  served up in luxurious, but super friendly and relaxed surroundings.

When I arrived for my 6-night stay, top doc Peter Gartner gave me a private introduction to Park Igls – set in leafy parkland just 10 minutes outside Innsbruck. I explained how a series of unexpected losses had led me to neglect my normal (admittedly pretty feeble) diet and exercise disciplines – leaving me overweight and suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

The empathetic Dr Gartner explained how his highly qualified medical team create a personalised recovery plan for every guest, matching their individual needs with gut-health-focused, Modern Mayr Medicine and cuisine.

Like so many great ideas, the basic thinking is fairly simple. We are what we eat! But how we eat – and when we eat – are also vitally important….

So recovery starts with the eating process. The more we chew the better we do! Chewing breaks down each mouthful of food, exposing an ever increasing surface area to saliva – with all its essential pre-digestive qualities.

Core Modern Mayr Cure tips for healthier eating include…

  • Essentially, breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper – giving your digestive system time to rest overnight
  • Eat fresh, well prepared food
  • Eat nothing raw after 4pm
  • Take small mouthfuls
  • Concentrate on chewing, chewing – then chewing some more – ideally 30 times for every mouthful. This will allow your saliva to do its vital pre-digestive work before you swallow.
  • Eating mindfully will also help you enjoy all the true flavour of your food – so you’ll feel satisfied with less
  • Use small sized forks and spoons – and put them down down between mouthfuls
  • Don’t drink just before, during or after a meal. But, between meals, drink at least two litres of water a day
  • Eat slowly – each meal should take at least 20 minutes
  • Stop the moment you start to feel full
  • ENJOY!

Days at Park Igls start and end early – partly because there’s no alcohol to keep you up partying through the night in the cosy lounge with its roaring log fire!

Most guests stay for a recommended two to three weeks.  Each day begins the same – with beastly ‘Bitter Wasser’! You collect a mug of concentrated Epsom Salts, mix with warm water and drink slowly. Then avoid swimming in the indoor pool while you wait for the – often dramatic – call of nature!

Once the Bitter Wasser has done its worst, there are always plenty of diversions. Mornings are pampering – filled with massages, warmly indulgent body wraps on wobbly waterbeds and strangely addictively, toe tingling Kneipp treatments, designed to improve circulation.

Surprisingly, I grew to enjoy working out in the panoramic gym with its amazing views and chandeliers. Other get-up-and-go options include Nordic walking, yoga, Pilates, strength training, cookery course, lectures, kybun® running and whacking balls at the exclusive TheMedGolf® Institute, plus beauty therapies, shopping and and theatre trips.

Mealtimes at Park Igls are quiet affairs. Mobile phones are banned. And the eight different levels of meal plan – depending on guests’ health and weight loss aims – are based on food combining. The alkaline focused menu includes spelt rolls, crispbreads, yoghurt, lightly cooked vegetables and small portions of protein – plus a Hoorah! pudding at the final lunch.

The need to chew, and chew some more is not conducive to social chit chat. So diners sit quietly chomping, like a field of contented ruminants!

The food is daintily portioned. But it’s also packed with flavour. And I was surprised to find that the secret ingredient of their yummy soups is often a good glug of Cointreau or Pernod – burnt off, of course, before serving…

But then, Park Igls was full of surprises. My “talking therapy” with lovely Thomas Blasbichler was unexpectedly helpful, offering truly practical life tips based on “possible” changes. The genuine care shown by Thomas and my personal doctor Peter Barth was typical of the whole Park Igls team. They know that life throws up googlies and that we, their guests, are fallible human beings, with normal lives, weaknesses and temptations.

They see it as their mission to listen and understand, offering a range of effective, coping techniques to alter our mindset and helping us move on to a much healthier, happier place. And so, while I’d expected to feel a bit deprived at Park Igls, instead, I felt pampered, thinner – and more positive. And by the final morning, I’d lost 8 pounds – yippee!

I followed the general ethos of the programme when I got home, mixing basic Modern Mayr principles with normal life. And by the end of a fortnight, I’d amazingly lost more than a stone – with no recurrence of my long term IBS.

So here’s to Mayr-vellous New Year! Having lapsed a little, I now feel motivated to get to grips again with the Modern Mayr programme in 2018. And I’m looking forward to rolling away much more than a stone by Easter Monday…

How to book

Felicity Hawkins was a guest of Health Retreat Park Igls (www.park-igls.com / +43 512 377305).  The award winning, 5* pioneer of Modern Mayr Medicine offers a wide variety of health enhancing programmes – helping with burnout syndrome, giving up smoking, weight loss detox and stress reduction.

Prices:

The Basic Programme costs: €977 (includes examinations, 20-minute abdominal treatment, group exercise/anti-stress sessions, lifestyle management and coaching plus Kneipp treatments and personalised Mayr cuisine eating plan.)

The Mayr Classic Programme costs: €1254pp – including the Basic Programme plus 5 massages and one metabolic detox bath.

Accommodation costs: €153 single, €148 sharing a double per night

Fly to Innsbruck with EasyJet or British Airways.

Park Igls is a member of the exclusive Niche Destinations portfolio (www.niche-destinations.com), promoting responsible and sustainable travel for independent travellers in elegant surroundings.

 

 

The Healing Waters of Bath

Roman steam roomDip your toe into the therapeutic waters of Bath for a reflection of a Roman era. Echoing a bygone time, it’s easy to imagine servants carrying vessels of mineral rich water, bathing in the warm waters that promise miraculous healing powers, being pampered in majestic surroundings with high domed ceilings while pompous and imposing Romanesque statues watch over.

From the Celts, Romans, Saxons and Georgians, Bath has long been associated with well-being which is well documented and exhibited at The Roman Baths, a first-class museum honouring the excavated remains which centre around the Sacred Spring. The rituals of spiritual contemplation, social interaction and the belief in health-giving properties of water are showcased and owe much to the Roman philosophy. Here you look and learn while a short distance away a more immersive experience awaits.

The Gainsborough Bath Spa has become the City’s crowning glory over healing waters. It’s tucked away in the quaint and aptly named Beau Street, minutes from the Roman Baths Museum and opposite the new and popular Thermae Spa facility. The hotel was originally built as a hospital, taking advantage of the curative properties of the underground springs. It was named after the artist Thomas Gainsborough and reflects a colourful history and a modern, sophisticated interpretation of its classic design. It stands as the only UK hotel with a naturally-occurring source of hot water with each guest room having its own supply of natural thermal water

The staff welcome guests like returning friends of the house. If your sat nav is not behaving, don’t despair, the hotel concierge will personally accompany you and guide you to the entrance. The rooms are elegant and tastefully furnished, complete with bathroom amenities from Asprey and a pillow menu to ensure a perfect night of slumber. It’s easy to stay in this cocoon of luxury.

Accommodating the lower ground levels, a star attraction awaits. The Spa Village offers its own version of Roman history, enjoying the privilege of exclusive access to naturally hot mineral-rich waters. This serene environment, swathed in natural light from a glass atrium, offers a range of aquatic body treatments, crafted for individual needs and conditions.

Your experience starts at the Aroma Bar where a delicate pouch of aromatherapy salts is crafted according to your mood preference.  This accompanies you throughout your time like a personal aroma mascot.  Use it as a reminder to enhance your mood during the recommended thermal circuit of three natural thermal pools, an ice alcove, traditional and infrared saunas, steam room and relaxation areas. And don’t miss the hot chocolate on tap, purported to be an ancient roman indulgent!

Treatments are designed to ensure the full benefit of the thermal waters through exfoliation, hydration and essential antioxidants and nutrients to complement the absorption of the Spring’s unique minerals. I selected the magnesium wrap, my choice based on the fact that most of us are deficient in this mineral. Apparently, magnesium is better absorbed through the skin rather than as a tablet supplement. It was a 90-minute relaxation experience combining a body scrub, massage and wrap in warm comforting towels. My skin took on a new suppleness and my mind equally nourished in relaxation. My therapist, Karbir Aliri, an expert in body nutrition, emphasised the significance of water as an essential component to relaxation, psychologically washing away stressful thoughts while immersion relaxed the muscles, allowing the breath to renew energy.

Two minutes away from the hotel is a rather different immersive experience at the Thermae Bath Spa. This popular facility is renowned for its rooftop pool created to maintain a connection with the surrounding landscape while providing therapeutic benefits. Go when the light is fading at twilight to enjoy the fabulous skyline views across the city.

The Thermae Bath Spa has involved the restoration of five historic buildings and a new contemporary structure to combine modern with a tradition of well-being which dates back over 2,000 years.

There are four natural thermal baths, one being The Minerva Bath, aptly named after the Goddess of Health and Wisdom. There are 24 treatment rooms offering a wide range of 40 therapies.

I experienced the “Nurture and Nourish” treatment which is one of the newer and recommended therapies using aromatherapy oils blended for dry or tired skin. The treatment involves a rose scrub to prepare the skin for a nourishing, light mud wrap. While wrapped cosily in towels, a facial and head massage furthers the relaxation process. The mud was showered away and the natural oils sealed in with a final massage.  I then retired to the adjoining relaxation room with a comforting cup of herbal tea in a far more calming state than when I arrived.

For that wow factor, the Wellness Suite, which was added this year, will certainly sparkle your senses with its range of colourful thermal chambers leading guests on a multi-sensory journey of seven experiences. These include Roman and Georgian inspired steam rooms, infused with aromatherapy oils, an infrared sauna, ice chamber, and an astral relaxing room, so popular that you may find a short queue. (www.thermaebathspa.com)

Bath may be brimming with restaurants but the Gainsborough Hotel’s cuisine is outstanding.  A young chef so impressed the hotel with his classic British dishes and creative use of local foods that they named the restaurant after him.  Dan Moon at The Gainsborough Restaurant offers an interesting menu as well as a creative seasonal six-course tasting option. I delved into the main menu to savour Sauteed Scallop which consisted of king prawn risotto, spring onion and yuzu – scrumptious.  The Fillet of Turbot followed, laced with crab tortellini, green peas, broad beans, girolles and crab bisque – mouth-watering and finally a menu of hard to resist desserts to include Lemon Parfait, healthy described with lavender sugar, lemon balm and raspberry sorbet.  Gluten-free requests are honoured without reminder and signature dishes modified to suit. It’s an informal yet sophisticated atmosphere with beautifully presented dishes honouring local, seasonal foods.

Before dinner, do find time to sample a cocktail made to suit your own personal taste. The bartenders are very talented and can craft a specially designed cocktail with your signature notes from a quick brief of your favourite tipples. You won’t be disappointed.  The Gainsborough bar is also well stocked with artisan gins, local ales and champagnes.

Bath’s wellness tradition is more than a bridge over flowing healthy waters.  Its natural springs have inspired architectural richness, aquatic treatments and a reverence towards the traditions and heritage of a healing destination. This is a place fashioning thermal health and wellness with the curative powers of warm hospitality.

Water floweth – The Facts on Bath’s waters:

There are three natural spring heads in the centre of Bath- The Kings Spring which fills the Roman Baths, The Hetling Spring and The Cross Spring

Each day the flow of water in 1.25 million litres at 45 centigrade.

The water contains 42 minerals. The most concentrated include calcium, magnesium, sodium, chloride, hydrogen carbonate, silicate and sulphur.

Places to visit…..

The Cross Bath is an 18th century open-air bathing pool where spring water rises up under natural artesian pressure through a sculptured fountain. It is a hidden sanctuary and an official sacred site, used in a similar way to years gone by for private gatherings reminiscent of Georgian bathers sipping hot chocolate with serenading musicians on the balcony above.  This hidden gem is recognised as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

A must is to see the “halo” of Georgian houses designed by John Wood the Elder which has become Bath’s memorable piece of architecture. Walk west to the Royal Crescent.

Bath Abbey is a former cathedral which has stood since 757 AD. Visit to see its stained glass windows and towering stone columns.

Jane Austen Centre is a draw for literary enthusiasts.  Hear about her own experience of Bath when she wrote “Persuasion” and “Northanger Abbey”. www.janeausten.co.uk

The Pulteney Bridge provides a view over the horseshoe-shaped weir and views to the high grounds.

The Grand Pump Room for afternoon tea while enjoying a recital or string quarter.

Sally Lunn’s is the city’s oldest eating house and kitchen and home to the famous Sally Lunn Bun – a recipe dating back 300 years.

 

How to Book:

For the Thermae Spa bookings:

Reservations. Tel: 01225 33 1234,

Email: reservations@thermaebathspa.com

https://www.thermaebathspa.com/contact/

For The Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel

Reservations. Tel: +44 (0) 1225 358 888

Email: reservations@thegainsboroughbathspa.co.uk

http://thegainsboroughbathspa.co.uk/pages/contact-us.html