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Innovative and Traditional Austria

Jonathan Selzer, PhD September 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
The sauna at Quellenhotel & Spa in Bad Waltersdorf.

The sauna is an integral part of the spa experience throughout Austria, as evidenced here at Quellenhotel & Spa in Bad Waltersdorf.

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Legend has it that even the Neanderthals would migrate up the mountains in the summer to enjoy the healing waters and pure alpine air in Austria. That was 40,000 years ago, and the country’s people have been at it ever since.

Some Austrian spas are incredibly remote. I’ve visited some, arriving into Kleinwalsertal by driving first into Germany and then back into Austria. It is certainly well worth the trip for the smaller spa experience. The larger spas are a little higher up the mountains toward Salzburg and Vienna, and are somewhat easier to reach; here you can find the top luxury resort spas. These include the Quellenhotel & Spa in Bad Waltersdorf; Schloss Fuschl Resort & Spa, built in the year 1450, which offers wellness and beauty treatments in a landscape straight out of The Sound of Music near Salzburg; Hotel Schloss Pichlarn, a five-star spa and luxury hotel that promotes wellness of mind, body and spirit in harmony with nature; and Palais Coburg, which has provided the Viennese people with spa services for the past 600 years. These are only a few of the many fabulous Alpine spas that appear on the Austrian landscape.

The Austrian difference

There are many kinds of spas in Austria. According to Miranda Allard, CEO of, there are small mountaintop spas and glamorous city spas, but what are hardly ever found are day spas. Austrian spas are mainly resorts, allowing for several days of treatment from a holistic health approach. Guests come to them not only for the spa services, but also for the associated outdoor or cultural activities. Winter snow and summer hikes draw guests from every continent.

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Mavida Balance Hotel & Spa’s Blue Box

Mavida Balance Hotel & Spa’s Blue Box

Quellenhotel & Spa's Styrian Medicine

Quellenhotel & Spa

The Quellenhotel & Spa in Bad Waltersdorf

The Quellenhotel & Spa in Bad Waltersdorf

Austrian Spas By Hannelore Leavy

By Hannelore Leavy, Chair, Advisory Board, The Day Spa Association

As any European country, Austria has its share of spas. “Bad” is the first word in many Austrians towns and villages, referring to “bath," meaning bathing and drinking the local mineral waters, which help many ailments and assist in recuperation from illnesses and accidents.

Traditions live on at Austrian spas, even today. The Austrian health care system still believes in the healing powers of the mineral waters, and the two-or-three week “kur” is still be prescribed by family physicians and paid for by health insurance.

Quite a number of Austrian spas have, as early as in the late 1970s, started to implement modern techniques, such as light and color therapy (Schloss Lebenberg in Kitzbuehel, Tyrol), and diet and exercise (Kurhotel in Warmbad Villach, Carinthia), which was unheard at European spas until the turn of the century. Other techniques include specialized fasting cures (Mayr Kur) and bio-farming, now called "organic," was already in place and thriving in the early 1980s in many villages throughout this small Alpine nation. Actually, Austria was, and still is, one of the top destinations for health and pleasure vacations for the active-minded, as well as the health-seeking traveler. Its spas are also a great starting place to consider complementary and alternative medicine, under the supervision of the spa doctor that presides over every spa village.

For more information, contact the Austrian National Tourist Office.

Retail Tip: Innovative and Traditional Austria

American spas can learn a thing or two on how to retail from Austrian spas. Retail sales have become a very important source of revenue for the Austrian spa; in fact, Austrian spas may rely more heavily on retail sales for revenue than American spas. Their product offerings are more extensive, and they work to build strong connections between treatment and retail. Austrian spas usually offer products in retail that they either use in treatment or to extend the benefits of the treatment. Also, ingestibles—primarily teas—are more common in retail because they use more dietary supplements, nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals in their treatments than most U.S. spas, although many American spas are beginning to move in this direction. Is this a retail direction from which your clientele—and your bottom line—could benefit?

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