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Alpine Spas

Peaks of Relaxation

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By Susan Breslow Sardone

Health-seekers and sybarites alike journey to the Alps for the mountain air and mineral-rich thermal springs. Royalty, whom for centuries hied to the hills to escape summer's heat, built magnificent places to entertain and relax here. Today's Alpine spas combine exquisite settings, state-of-the-art facilities, and time-proven remedies that refresh the body and the spirit. Many European spas have the word "bad" in their name, which translates to "bath." And that's good.

Experience for yourself the curative powers of these spectacular surroundings.

AUSTRIA. Since the 19th century, Bad Ischl has catered to high society. Emperor Franz Joseph's summer retreat, Kaiservilla, has been converted to a museum. In search of a contemporary experience? Ultra-modern Rogner-Bad Blumau spa is a holistic health-care complex with a day spa with pools fed by the town's thermal waters. Unique features include an aromatherapy grotto, musical meditation area, and beauty tower offering skin and body treatments. Die Schrothkur is a weight-loss spa where a complete health exam is part of the stringent regimen.

GERMANY. There are 330 officially recognized spas and health resorts here that range from rustic to elegant. Baden-Wuerttemberg has more than 60 alone. The quintessential spa resort, Baden Baden is where Roman emperor Caraculla came to recuperate with his legions. In Bad Woerischofen, Sebastian Kneipp invented his cure combining hydrotherapy, herbal medicine, nutrition, exercise, and a natural, disciplined lifestyle. Kings and queens once ventured to Bad Kissingen, locating the Royal Sanatorium here. Classic buildings and a spa garden are among its attractions. Visitors to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, alongside Germany's tallest mountain, exercise and hike in low-humidity, allergen-free air.

ITALY. Castel Tirolo outside of Merano is a scenic health-resort town. Its province, Bolzano, is especially popular with Europeans, who frequent Bagni di Salomone, Foiana, Sesto, and Terme die Brennero spas. Levico Terme and Vetriolo Terme spas in Trentino form a single resort, where the town's mineral springs are used in bathing and mud remedies.

SWITZERLAND. Europe's largest aquatic spa, Bad Ragaz features a handsomely tiled Roman bath with whirlpool recliners, an adjoining Roman-Irish bath that alternates steam and hot air, and private and co-ed saunas. Leukerbad's healing thermal waters were discovered by the Romans. Today this popular spa village in the canton of Valais boasts 22 indoor and outdoor, private and public thermal pools, the largest number in the Alps. And in towns as posh as Gstaad and as charming as Interlaken, grand resorts cosset guests in luxury while pampering spa services leave them in the pink.

European Spa Treatments

  • Algae and Mud Pack Facials
  • Aromatherapy
  • Ayurveda
  • Reflexology
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Jet Massage
  • Liquid Sound Therapy
  • Lymphatic Drainage
  • Mineral Baths
  • Thalassotherapy
  • Yoga
  • Zen Meditation

More Alps >

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Austrian Alps
Part 3: German Alps
Part 4: Italian Alps
Part 5: Swiss Alps
Part 6: Alpine Food

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