Emotional and physical fatigue, chronic illnesses, and boredom – all accumulate in our bodies and minds throughout the year, so if we don’t take action, 2024 certainly won’t be better than 2023. While one could take a New Year vacation and embark on an extended tour of local bars, festive alcoholism is a choice only for those who do not care about their own future (after all, a person’s liver is a singular organ for a lifetime). So, a much better option is to look towards health resorts.
For quality treatment in procedural rooms, deep relaxation in saunas and thermal springs, and simply clearing your mind by strolling through beautiful natural settings, there is no better choice than the resorts of Eastern Europe. They will particularly interest those who wish to receive top-notch wellness services and quality spa relaxation at a reasonable price.
Europe’s Largest Thermal Lake
Everyone loves water treatments, but not everyone likes the idea of bathing in the same tub where hundreds or even thousands of other people have soaked. Specifically for fastidious vacationers, nature has created Lake Hévíz in western Hungary, with an area of 47,500 m². But the main feature here is not the size; it’s that the water in the lake is practically renewed every day. This happens because the lake is not of volcanic origin, like most thermal lakes; it was created by a spring cave, meaning constant geothermal currents circulate in the resort system. Healing mineral water at a temperature of 38°C, a first-class floating bath, morning mist over the surface of the picturesque lake, a secluded forest around, and the charming water lily Castalia Rubra Longiflora – Hévíz will not only treat sore joints but also satisfy anyone’s aesthetic preferences.
Yes, of course – there are no mountains in the Poltava region of Ukraine. But that’s the only thing that distinguishes the local Verholy Relax Park from typical Swiss resorts. Oh no, there’s one more thing – the payment for recreation is in hryvnias (believe me, it’s much, much cheaper than the same price tags in Swiss francs). Essentially, Verholy is a complex of minimalist eco-houses amidst a fragrant pine forest, impeccable landscape design, a horse club, and a sophisticated restaurant with dishes based on game from the surrounding forest and fish from the local river. The SPA here is a separate complex with indoor and outdoor pools, a Ukrainian sauna, Roman baths, and a Turkish hammam. Moreover, there’s a separate option for those who don’t like extreme temperature attractions – the so-called “sanarium,” which combines the gentle heat of a Finnish sauna with the humidity of a steam room.
Choosing a health resort for a family vacation can be extremely challenging. Dad, for example, wants to treat his joints, mom – gastrointestinal disorders, and their son has bronchial asthma. To avoid traveling to three different resorts during winter holidays, the entire family can go to the Slovenian town of Portorož. There, they treat practically all chronic illnesses and adhere to 900-year-old traditions of using natural sources. This includes shale, mud, sea salt, and, of course, thermal waters. Specifically for family recreation in Portorož, dozens of affordable and comfortable spa hotels are available.
Healing Polish Salt
Before the full-scale invasion of Russia into Ukraine, one of the most interesting speleosanatoriums in Europe (with an underground museum, church, concert hall, crystal sculptures, and even a real football field) was Soledar, a city with numerous salt mines in the Bakhmut district, which was destroyed and captured by the Kremlin terrorist organization “Wagner” in January 2023. While the Armed Forces of Ukraine are working hard to reclaim the salt deposit for themselves and Europeans, those prescribed a stay in a healing dry microclimate can visit the famous Wieliczka Salt Mine. This UNESCO World Heritage site is located near the Polish city of Krakow. Over time, astronomers like Nicolaus Copernicus, writer Goethe, and President Bill Clinton engaged in breathing exercises and therapeutic sleep here – not a bad company to join.
The Forge of Czech Playboys
Not far from the legendary resort Mariánské Lázně (or, as the Germans call it, Marienbad), 62 years ago, former general and current Czech president Petr Pavel was born. So, if you also want to look like a cool, toned playboy despite your respectful age and gray hair, perhaps you should head to the healing thermal springs on the border of the ecologically clean Slavkov Forest. There are about 100 hot mineral springs here, and the range of services is simply enormous – from traditional water treatments in baths and pools to therapeutic drinking from cold acidic springs, mud baths, dry carbon baths, and the popular carboxytherapy (CO2 injections that improve blood circulation throughout the body).
Slovakia has been making headlines in European news summaries for the past few months because its long-haul truckers blocked the road for their Ukrainian colleagues. Why did this happen? Mainly due to various economic reasons, but also because of fatigue. When a person gets tired, they start merging and getting annoyed with everyone around. For example, in Slovakia, there is a well-known resort, Piešťany, where you can find a luxurious park, cultural monuments, and the country’s largest geothermal water and sulfur mud springs. However, all of this is mostly enjoyed by foreigners (out of 40,000 annual visitors, over 60% come from Arab countries). If those long-haul truckers chose not to sit in their trucks on the cold road near the border with Ukraine but took a vacation to heal their intervertebral disc cartilage, enrich their bones with useful minerals, strengthen muscles, steam, and relax – everyone would be better off. At least, for now, it seems that they are actually listening to good advice. A superb option for relaxation and recovery would be the five-star Ensana Thermia Palace, a hotel in a historic style.
An ancient resort located in modern-day Romania, was favored by the Romans over 2000 years ago. They named the 16 local hot springs (up to 60°C) the Waters of Hercules. In addition to enthusiasts of steaming and healing, history buffs will appreciate the ruins of Roman baths that still stand in the city center, including various aqueducts and baths. Those feeling lucky can escape to the casino built in 1913 in Baroque style. Aspiring spelunkers will enjoy the surrounding caves, avid fishermen will find beautiful lakes, and for skiers, interesting slopes have been built within a few hours around Băile Herculane.
During the Soviet occupation, the Lithuanian mineral water resort of Birštonas was a favorite vacation spot for the Kremlin elite. Today, the best health centers in the country are located in this small town, such as the trendy Vytautas Mineral SPA hotel and the Egle sanatorium. No matter how exhausting the work year may be, local baths, therapeutic showers, mud baths, pools, and salt rooms will revive you. In addition to standard spa procedures, Birštonas has its own unique feature – amber therapy. The Lithuanian variety of the gemstone positively affects the muscles, nerves, and vessels of a tired person. The procedure involves drinking amber-infused water and lying on an amber massage table where a massage is performed with amber oil. The only downside is that you can’t recreate all of this at home to engage in amber therapy at the end of each working day.
Estonian-style Energy Farm
Some may say that for herbal relaxation, one should go to Amsterdam, but if you’re interested in relaxation amidst pure nature without narcotic intoxication, it’s better to buy tickets to Estonia. On the picturesque Navesti River, the wooden resort hotel Energia Öko-Spa is situated. In summer, it operates as an eco-friendly enterprise for growing various medicinal plants, and in winter, it functions as a spa resort. This place will definitely appeal to those for whom the sauna is not a companion to beer alcoholism but an opportunity to genuinely rejuvenate in the spirit of our ancestors. Each visit to the traditional wooden sauna is accompanied by procedures using healing clays and locally handpicked herbs. A pleasant bonus: boat and walking trips (and no one will rush you – this is Estonia).
Radiance of the Carpathian Sun
The Radisson Blu Resort in the Ukrainian ski resort of Bukovel offers 2000 m² of the best wellness services imaginable. Procedural rooms, relaxation rooms, a pool with a view of the Carpathian Mountains, and almost all varieties of baths, saunas, and other hammams. The highlights of the hotel are beauty rituals with Anne Semonin cosmetics (beloved by actress and Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly), and a three-hour session called “Radiance of the Carpathian Sun.” This involves being initially wrapped in pink clay, followed by a massage, then a phyto-aromatic care, and finally, you lie down in the Alpha Sphere chair, which soothes you with streams of pleasant sound, light, warmth, and vibration. If there is a shortcut to nirvana, this is it.
Source: The Gaze