Dip into German spas
The excitement of the holidays is over, and you’ve settled back into your daily routine. The short, gray days and endless to-do lists may have you feeling down. Luckily, there’s a cure — escape from life’s stresses and warm up from head to toe with a dip at Germany’s fantastic spas.
The spa culture
Archaeological evidence suggests that balneotherapy, the use of water to address health concerns, began in prehistory. The custom was widespread during the days of the Roman Empire and continued, in varying degrees, through the Middle Ages and beyond in many parts of Europe.
During the 19th century, the rich and famous from around Europe traveled to Aachen’s liquid gold: hot springs chock-full of 18 minerals. Luxuriate in the famous waters with a visit to Carolus Thermen’s wading pools, whirlpools and grottos. Lounge in Oriental, Finnish and Baltic saunas or relish European cuisine in the Gourmet World. You can even re-create a day at the beach in the Caravane Oasis.
The famous spa town of Baden-Baden offers two spa resorts, as well as a renowned casino, noteworthy restaurants, posh hotels and upscale boutiques for a weekend of pampering. At Caracalla Spa, wade from pool to pool in the central bath area. Then sit back and sweat during a sauna dousing, which creates a calm setting through lights, sounds, scents and some imagination.
Bare it all at the historic Friedrichsbad, which fuses beautiful historic architecture with Roman and Irish spa experiences. Follow the 17-step regimen for hours of relaxation, and book the soap scrub massage at station five. Friedrichsbad and Caracalla are colocated for hours, or days, of rejuvenation.
Touted as Europe’s largest thermal spa, Therme Erding offers rest and family fun. In winter, a convertible glass dome – twice the size of the dome adorning Berlin’s Reichstag – envelops the huge outdoor pool and tropical oasis of the Thermenparadies. Find tranquility in more than 15,000 square feet of pools filled with warming waters, and dry off inside the Saunaparadies. Splash down 20 slides for more than a mile of excitement at Galaxy Erding, and join the ranks of nobility with massages and cosmetic treatments at the Royal Day Spa.
Just a few miles from Garmisch-Partenkirchen you’ll find Schloss Elmau, a five-star spa resort and hotel. The Badehaus Spa offers more than 32,000 feet of saunas, pools and baths. For more tranquility and privacy, rent the top floor of the spa. Sign young children up for Kids’ Club or the Edutainment program, and take advantage of the Family Spa. Don’t miss the resort’s fine dining options and a variety of outdoor activities, including skiing and snowshoeing.
Kaiser-Friedrich-Therme has celebrated Roman and Irish bathing customs for 100 years. Unwind in the pleasant sitting pools and saunas, sojourn in comfortable resting areas, and reach a new level of well-being with a massage, facial or body wrap. Every Tuesday is Ladies’ Day, so indulge with a girls’ day out.
Thermalbad Aukammtal has it all – swimming pools, saunas, thermal baths, massages and beauty treatments. Burn calories and soak in minerals during a water fitness class. Bring kids ages 4 and up on the first Saturday of each month to enjoy the Family Sauna program.
For even more destinations in Germany, visit www.thermenverzeichnis.de. No matter which spa you choose to visit, you’ll leave feeling like a million bucks.
Tip: Find out whether the spa you are planning to visit requires a swimsuit or birthday suit to avoid a surprise.
Other spa towns to consider:
Czech Republic: Karlovy Vary, Mariánské Lázně (Marienbad)
France: Aix-les-Bains, Argèles-Gazost, Évian-les-Bains
Italy: Bormio, Montecatini Terme, Montegrotto
Netherlands: Valkenburg aan de Geul
Switzerland: Lavey-les-Bains, Leukerbad, Vals, Zurich