Wanderers have long discovered the curative power of travel. While destinations help open our eyes to new ideas, cultures, and people, they can also heal us in more ways than one. When you need a little rest, relaxation and rejuvenation, a spa vacation might be in order. However, rather than just checking into your regular humdrum spa, a number of destinations around the world can lend truly unique and at times downright wacky treatments to soothe those aches and pains. From hay baths to chocolate fondue wraps, some spa experiences are worth the flight alone.
Hay Bath in Italy
Rolling around in some hay isn’t just a farm animal pastime. In northern Italy, farmers have been bathing in hay for over a hundred years thanks to its detoxifying and purifying effects. Since 1903, Hotel Heubad has offered this traditional spa technique. Using 40 different types of grasses and flowers, spa-goers are treated to a warm and damp hay bath for 15 to 20 minutes. The tradition of hay baths grew out of farmers who used to sleep in the hay while working the alpine pastures. They quickly noticed the hay provided health benefits, soothing aches and pains. Proponents of this northern Italian tradition contend that a hay bath can help with arthritis, sleeping disorders, and digestive problems.
Traditional Turkish Baths in Istanbul
Known as Turkish hamams, baths in Istanbul became incredibly popular in the 18th century, as they were big money makers. However, they fell into decline when they were using too much of the city’s resources. Now with only around 20 still alive and kicking, a traditional Turkish bath experience in Istanbul is one of those bucket list spa experiences. You can receive a traditional treatment at hamams like Cagaloglu Hamam. Built in 1741 by Sultan Mahmut I, it remains the last hamam built by the Ottoman Empire. The grand structure is just the cherry on top for treatments that include heated sauna-like rooms and refreshing, albeit shocking, cold water washes.
Chocolate Fondue Wrap in Hershey, Pennsylvania
If you consider yourself a chocoholic, you have probably heard about Hershey, Pennsylvania. The famous chocolate brand has long called the city home, attracting chocolate lovers with its amusement park dedicated to sweet treats. It comes as no surprise then that Hotel Hershey, a grand old hotel from 1933, would offer a number of spa treatments involving chocolate. Known as the Chocolate Spa, the hotel’s spa offers several chocolate spa experiences from a whipped cocoa bath to a chocolate bean polish to a cocoa massage. However, true chocoholics will probably go for the chocolate fondue wrap. Spa guests are fully covered in chocolate fondue and wrapped in a soft warm blanket. The treatment reportedly helps revitalize and nourish the skin.
Kiln Saunas in South Korea
Kilns aren’t just for pottery. In South Korea, they are an integral part of the spa experience. Called hanjeungmak, these stone or clay kilns are heated to between 50 and 90 degrees Celsius. A tradition believed to date back to the 15th century, locals have long sat in these kilns after a long days work for their medical benefits. From arthritis to skin ailments, South Koreans believe that the heat helps sweat out the toxins in the body. You can experience this time-honored spa technique in South Korea at any number of traditional South Korean spas, usually called jjimjilbang.
Wine Spa in Bordeaux, France
Wine spas have quickly caught on over the last decade, but the trend began in the Bordeaux region of France. If you love to imbibe wine, you’ll appreciate the wine spa at Les Sources de Caudalié on the Château Smith Haut Lafitte vineyards. A pioneer of wellness treatments utilizing wine grapes, the Vinothérapie Spa is regarded as the first official wine spa in the world. Opened in 1999, the spa offers a variety of wine-centric treatments such as a crushed Cabernet scrub and even a barrel bath which uses grape marc and red vine extracts.
Beer Baths in Czech Republic
Not only do locals in the Czech Republic love their beer, but they also love to bathe in it. Beer remains an integral part of life in the country. Brewed here for centuries, the Czech Republic boasts the world’s highest consumption of beer. Believed to possess healing qualities, you can find a number of beer spas in the country beginning at the First Karlovy Vary Beer Spa. As you bathe in beer, you can also drink the amber nectar, all while relieving tension, fatigue, and stress. The Chodová Planá Beer Spa also offers treatments with beer at the forefront. Spa-goers are treated to baths made up of a combination of hot mineral water, beer and the ingredients used to brew that beer.
Ancient Hot Springs in Gunma, Japan
In a country like Japan, hot springs remain the king of spa treatments as they have been for centuries. You can even dip your toes in hot springs frequented by the ancients like Takaragawa Onsen. Surrounded by mighty mountains and forest, Takaragawa Onsen offers a number of different baths you can visit right off of the Takaraga stream. Said to help heal the body and even powerful enough to treat diseases, these hot springs have been a favorite since ancient times.
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