Austrian Spas mix quirky treatments, spectacular scenery
Share with others:
Imagine a place where colorful, seamless buildings nestle into the hillsides amid endless pools of bubbling thermal water. Then imagine singing bowls placed on your body or napping in a grotto covered with Dead Sea salt. Austria's spas are extreme in their creativity, but the themes are the same: wellness, balance, beauty.
Since the 1990s Austrian destination spas have been developing progressive wellness and balance treatments that tip the scales toward technology and holistic healing. In the last few years, resorts have become more innovative and eco-conscious by combining natural local elements with the latest advances.
During the winter months, Austrian spas remain open alongside the popular ski slopes and winter attractions. But this new mother of one chose to survey the spas with her husband during the summer, when prices are lower.
One of the more artistic resorts to emerge is Rogner Bad Blumau in the Styrian thermal spring region, a short ride from Vienna. The colorful buildings and vast thermal pools resemble nothing more than a Dr. Seuss book. Its creator, Friedrich Hundertwasser, was a renowned sculptor and artist who believed straight lines prevent man from harmonizing with nature.
Like most spas in Austria, Bad Blumau offers therapies that go beyond steamy scented baths. Included in the menu of soul-balancing services is a Vedic Indian Astrologer that leads yoga groups in the Vulkania waters and performs astrologic life therapy.
Does it work? Who cares?
The landscape and architecture is more profoundly therapeutic than having leeches detoxify your blood, which became popular a couple of years ago after Demi Moore raved about her Austrian spa trip.
One of the more popular treatments to evolve from the philosophy of balancing the mind with body is sound therapy, or sound massage. Various metal bowls are placed on your body and lightly struck to harmonize your body and mind.
Adding the local elderberry to the experience enlivens the senses and stimulates the mind to relax, hence the puddle-like feeling you get when you try to get up.
For a life-changing experience, spend a few days floating under the moonlight in pools of naturally heated, mineral-rich water. When the clock strikes 11 p.m., shadowy figures drift indoors to rinse in the heated indoor labyrinth of lounges.
I had heard that Europeans tend to bathe nude in thermal waters, but only once did I ever encounter a man a little too natural for my American eyes. My first thought was that I must have wondered into a men's lounge.
In the Salzburg region, spas scattered among among lakes and mountains promote the purity of the air and water. Not far from the German border, the Mavida Wellness Hotel & Spa in Zell am See boasts the finest technology and trained therapists. The Floatarium is supposed to suggest what it feels like to be in a mother's womb by using high salt concentrates in a water tank. But this mother found out that if you are still healing from breast-feeding, you might want to skip this experience.
Another contemporary calming mechanism is the Floating Couch, which is basically a waterbed that you rest upon while a long list of concoctions are massaged and lathered into the skin. Needing to heal parts of my salt-soaked body, I chose goat's milk and honey.
Yet another invention to accentuate nature, The Blue Box recreates life in the clouds by using a vibrating bed, color therapy and sound. The real thing, however, is not far away. Riding a bike around the lake before jumping into the crystal blue water and staring up at the mountains also works. Sometimes, the most gracious part of a spa vacation is the adventure it offers your soul.
First Published September 23, 2009 12:00 am