European Spa Vacations Mix Old World and New Age

European spa vacations blend Old World sights and scenery with New Age relaxation. Europe is home to the oldest spas in the world - including hot springs and mineral baths that date back to the Roman Empire!


A European spa vacation can be the ultimate in luxury and relaxation - or you can work your butt off (literally!) at a weight loss boot camp.

You'll find the most modern spa treatments in Europe, but it is also home to some of the oldest, most historic spa treatments still available, such as the Scandinavian sauna, mineral springs, and Hamam or Turkish Bath.

Of course, Europe is also the birthplace of the medical spa.


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We've all heard about celebrities running off to Europe for strange injections and coming back looking 10 years younger, right? Well, combining medically prescribed beauty treatments with a luxury spa is a very European approach, one that has rapidly spread across the globe.

But you'll also find lots of traditional spa treatments such as mud wraps, body scrubs, and facials at European spas. Many use locally produced ingredients, like the wine treatments of Italy or local soil in mud treatments.

There are plenty of luxurious European spa resorts in which to indulge - what a great place for girlfriend getaways!

France

- The Arc House, Monclar de Quercy - A women-only spa in the south of France, Arc House is set in a charming 18th century priory and is run by an American.

The spa centers on health, fitness, stress management and weight loss. The hotel offers beginning French lessons, cooking demonstrations, and escorted tours to local sights. This is one of our favorite European spa vacations - you can learn about French culture in an environment that feels very much like home!

Camp Biche, near Cahors - This fitness spa vacation in the south of France is not as gentle as it's name implies (Camp Biche, meaning "doe").

The Endurance Program is a pretty intensive weight loss boot camp, with the final goal being a half-marathon on the final day of camp! There are more low-key programs available as well.

Their Kick Start program includes daily Pilates, Yoga, and intensive ab work. The Lifestyle program teaches fitness routines you can do at home. Massages are also included.

All meals are gourmet, and, except for the intense Endurance program, are calorie-controlled.

Switzerland

Lausanne Palace Spa, Lausanne. Switzerland is the home of beauty spas, and Lausanne Palace and Spa, high in the Swiss Alps, focuses on anti-aging treatments as well as the wellness of mind-body and spirit through fitness and beauty.

The CBE Spa Concept evolves and tailors services, cures and programs to suit your specific needs and goals.

Italy

Borgo La Bagnaia Resort and Spa, Bagnaia, Siena - Located in the heart of Tuscany, the spa has a sauna and Turkish baths as well as Eastern and Western treatments.

Shiatsu massage, algae deep-cleansing facials, and detoxifying mud therapies are offered in a stone building with soft light. When not in the spa, the hotel offers Medieval banquets and cooking demonstrations.

Grotta Giusti Spa, Tuscany - A thermal spa in a Tuscan villa in Italy!

The spa boasts a unique mineral steam bath in a natural grotto, created from the steam rising from a heated underground lake.

Accommodations are comfortable, not luxurious. This is a very affordable destination spa in Europe, and offers dermatology and medical consultations as well as steam and mud treatments.

Antico Casale di Scansano, Tuscany - Housed in a renovated farmhouse, this lovely resort spa offers relaxation and 3- to 7-day wellness regimens. Their weight-loss program is based upon diet and sauna treatments; fitness is offered in hikes, biking, horseback riding and yoga.

United Kingdom & Ireland

Thermae Bath Spa, Bath, England. - What list of British spas would be complete without a mention of Bath? Named for the Roman baths built 2000 years ago around the natural thermal waters of the region, the town of Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thermae Spa is the only day spa in England that uses the local thermal mineral waters.

Treatments include massage, hot stone therapy, body wraps, thermal treatments in the warm waters, and the Kraxen Stove, a traditional Alpine Hay Chamber that warms the back and shoulders before massage.

Yeotown Radiant Health Retreat, Devon - A health spa in the countryside near Devon, England, Yeotown offers an intensive week of body cleansing detox and fitness, a holistic fertility program, and a four-day yoga retreat.

The detox and fitness program is designed to re-balance your body and your mind. Shed the "junk" you've been carrying - physical and mental - with aerobics, cycling, kayaking, and healthy eating. A detox smoothie and daily massage, yoga, and sauna complete the program. They claim that most clients lose between 5 - 10 pounds!

Champneys Forest Mere Health Farm, Liphook - A classic health farm south of London, Forest Mere is especially popular with women, and they offer mother-daughter packages and pampering. Massage, body treatments, and stress reduction are part of the program, as well as weight loss.

Set in an old English manor house in the countryside, Forest Mere Health Farm is a tranquil retreat for reducing stress - or body weight.

Massage, mud treatments, aromatherapy, bach flower treatments, and the first thalassotherapy pool in England are among the treatments available.



The Lodge and Spa at Inchydoney Island - A destination spa located on an island off the coast of Ireland!

Sandy beaches, the soothing sound of the surf, and seawater therapies - this is truly a "get away from it all" experience.

This is the only thalassotherapy spa in Ireland, using heated seawater and massage jets to relax the muscles.

The cuisine is gourmet, yet healthy, and there are weight-loss programs available.

Stobo Castle Health Spa - The castle in Scotland, dating from the early 1800's, has fewer than 30 rooms for an intimate countryside "get away from it all" European spa vacation.

The name "health spa" might bring up images of rigorous fitness training, but aside from a few Pilates and Yoga classes, Stobo Castle Health Spa is really about relaxation, massage therapy, and beauty treatments. They will also test you for food allergies, an benefit unique to their program!

Spain

Son Brull Hotel and Spa, Pollenca, Spain - This recently restored 18th-century monastery has been updated with the latest technology, while retaining the quiet charm of the original structure.

Spa treatments include geothermal and Hydro therapy, as well as massages incorporating local products such as olive oil, almonds, honey, salt and aloe vera.

They also offer medically supervised weight loss programs.

Turkey

Laveda Spa at the Ritz Carlton - The hotel, in Istanbul, is urban - good for business meetings as well as an exotic city escape. But the Laveda Spa is rooted in Turkish tradition, boasting the cleansing water ritual of the hamam. During the warm summer months, Laveda moves outdoors with 2 treatment rooms on a terrace overlooking the Bosphorus River. Massages, facials, and holistic therapies are available to help you escape the urban madness!

Czech Republic

Harp Spa Clinic at the Grand Hotel Pupp - You might have seen this lovely old Czech hotel - the "grande dame" of spa resorts in Europe - in Queen Latifah's movie, Last Holiday.

The elegant resort has been restored, and the Harp Spa Clinic is a health and medical spa in the finest European tradition. Treatments are supervised by medical professionals, and include hydrotherapy, mud therapy, underwater massage, lymphatic drainage, reflexology, and acupuncture. A Roman bath and beauty treatments are also available (but no, LL Cool J is not!)

Austria

Rogner-Bad Blumau Hotel and Spa - Located in Bad-Blumau, Austria, this destination spa is housed in one of the most beautiful hotels in Europe.

This is a very large facility, offering almost any spa treatment you could think of - from classic mud masks to hydrotherapy treatments in thermal waters.

Activities include hiking, biking, horseback riding - and a nude beach!

German is the predominant language here, although English is commonly spoken as well.

Finland

Naantali Spa Hotel and Resort - This unique hotel and spa in Naantali, Finland, is one of the most unusual spa resorts in Europe. It's housed in a permanently docked yacht!

The accommodations, not surprisingly, are luxurious ship's staterooms; the royal suites have a veranda and private sauna!

The Naantali area is home to hot springs that have attracted those seeking health and healing for centuries. The Naantali Spa Hotel and Resort offers thermal pools for outdoor swimming year-round, Turkish baths and Roman pools, and saunas. Massage, relexology, facials, and body wraps are also offered. The hotel's fitness center offers exercise classes and a variety of sports.

Other Sites Suggested by Readers

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Here are some of the sites others have suggested:

• Antico Casale di Scansano, Italy

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