Last updated: 10:00 PM ET, Tue July 21 2015

European Spas Respond to Local Needs

Hotel & Resort | James Ruggia | July 21, 2015

European Spas Respond to Local Needs

PHOTO: The spa at the Mandarin Oriental Paris will launch a new program described as a “holistic happy hour” this September. (Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental)

As places of healing and wellness, hotel space usually define themselves by their location. If the environment demands a specific need, or provides a particular benefit, that sense of place is absorbed into the spa’s treatments and atmosphere. As examples, cities tend to create wellness needs, while natural areas often contribute to the solutions. The following spas reflect both approaches. Europe’s spa traditions date back to Roman antiquity and today straddle the border between the indulgent and the medicinal.

With the largest rooms in the city, the 294-room Corinthia Hotel London is already doing its share to help its guests find comfort and relaxation inside the hotel, which resides in a historic Victorian building whose high windows let in plenty of light. The hotel’s ESPA Life at Corinthia spreads across four floors. The spa, which serves as the Corinthia chain’s flagship wellness facility, is trying to respond to the stress of urban London living by providing an innovative Medical Massage program.

The treatments move massage into a medical realm as it is designed to identify the root causes of health problems and treat them holistically, working on the entire body and mind as a whole and offering restoration, rehabilitation and relaxation. Four expert practitioners have been scouted from around the world, to offer support and relief through bespoke Medical Massage treatments.

Each specialist differs in their technique and philosophy, which means there is a practitioner suited to various personality types: James Mutkin is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) doctor; Lucja Maslowska specializes in holistic medical massage techniques; Heshmat Nasiri is a physiotherapist and expert in musculoskeletal and neurological therapy; and Roopjeet Panesar is a master of Osteopathy and Naturopathy.

Not far from Alicante on Spain’s Costa Blanca is another facility that wanders the edge between spa and medicine in the grand tradition of the old European spas where the well-to-do and celebrities sought the cure. The 93-suite SHA Wellness Clinic attracts celebrities, statesmen and supermodels that go there for its effectiveness and the fastidious way the hotel protects their privacy. Their privacy is so protected that most of them feel comfortable just eating in the restaurants or sitting by the pool.   

While the clinic isn't technically a spa, a resort or a medical facility, it really is a combination of all three. The 50,000-square-foot wellness facility is equipped with pools, fitness areas and more than 80 treatment rooms. People go there to lose a few pounds, lift some weights, reassess their health and eat healthy and well.

Linking traditional medicine and Eastern therapies, a staff of 250 offers treatments ranging from the physical to the sybaritic. Physicians give consultations on nutrition, preventive medicine, anti-ageing, genetics, aesthetics, regenerative medicine, sports medicine, psychology, odontology, ophthalmology and cognitive stimulation. The SHA method is to create a regimen tailored to each guest blending healthy eating, natural therapies, genetic/anti-ageing medicine, aesthetic medicine, fitness and cognitive stimulation – all with the goal of re-educating guests' personal habits and behavior.

A team of chefs prepare delicious macrobiotic meals – with each guest assigned his or her nutrition regimen after extensive arrival-day consultations with the medical team. Guest suites are airy and large with terraces and wide views of the picturesque village of Altea and the Mediterranean.

The Spa At Mandarin Oriental, Paris will introduce a new Zen & The City Wellness Program in September. Designed by American wellness journalist Rebecca Leffler, the hotel calls the program a “holistic happy hour” designed to provide Parisians and visitors with a welcome pause after a long workday or a busy day of shopping. It begins with a 30-minute private yoga class for a personalized body and soul workout followed by 30-minute body or face massage in The Spa. The yoga classes and spa treatments are accompanied by aromatherapy scents.

Afterwards, guests may imbibe a light, healthy snack by Executive Chef Thierry Marx, and a “green and glam smoothie” packed with superfoods and seasonal produce created by Leffler. Priced at €150, the package includes a private, 30-minute yoga session; a 30-minute body or face massage at The Spa; and the healthy snack and cocktail created by Marx and Leffler.

On May 1, the 138-room Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden opened its doors in the Obersalzberg area as an Alpine lifestyle resort. The hotel, which was recently an InterContinental hotel, has had a redesign of two of its three restaurants and a transition to the Kempinski The Spa concept in the hotel's wellness area. Lots of wood, loden and leather give the interior design a Bavarian feel as do the dramatic vistas of the Bavarian Alps all around. The Alpine landscape gives guests a chance to explore local trails or play a nine-hole golf course (one of the highest in Germany). In winter, the hotel offers immediate access to the Gutshof auf dem Eckerbichl ski area. Salzburg is not too far away.

The 1,400 square meter Kempinski The Spa has an outdoor pool and relaxation area as well as 12 treatment rooms where guests La Prairie and Alpienne products and treatments inspired by the seasons of the year are used. Natural oils, organic Alpine herbs, local salts and mountain spring water round out the range of products used by the wellness professionals. Exclusive treatments with a regional twist, specially developed for the hotel, include salt stone massages, tied to the long-standing tradition of salt mining in the Berchtesgaden region.


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