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European Spas: Tradition and Inspiration

By Bryan Durocher
Posted: April 14, 2008, from the November 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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The Thalgo Institute
Adjacent to the Golden Tulip Hotel, Paris
Summary: Water, water everywhere

       Overview. In France, professional skin care is as fundamental as professional dental care is in the United States. French women make it a priority to beautifully care for their skin. At this no-nonsense skin care center, the focus is on the ingredients—specifically, Thalgo’s marine-based formulas. Water, therefore, is a key component at the Thalgo Institute, including hydrotherapy treatments and aquatic exercise.
       My experience. My Gentleman’s Detox Marine Facial featured Thalgo products containing Algue Bleue Vitale, a blue algae sourced from lakebeds in Oregon, which, the company claims, stimulates cellular renewal and offers anti-aging properties. This was a classic facial in the very best sense—featuring virtually painless extractions and a truly transforming face, shoulder, neck and hand massage—performed by one of the most competent therapists I have ever experienced.

       The takeaway. This classic European facial left my skin looking and feeling better than it had in years, which highlighted the fact that it’s important to avoid underselling your tried-and-true treatments. Don’t lose sight of the fact that a good, foundational skin care protocol can be every bit as effective as a newer, high-tech or high-impact treatment. These approaches have worked for years and they allow you to offer effective results, along with the luxury and relaxation that clients crave.

Le Petit Chateau Fontenay
Bad Wörishofen, Germany
Summary: Health first

       Overview. A European destination spa in the purest sense, Fonteney, situated in a lovely, forested area about two hours outside of Munich, focuses solely on health and well-being. This is not the place for 18 rounds of golf or fruity drinks by the pool. Comfortable but no-frills, Fonteney is all about wellness, and guests come here specifically for better health and increased vitality. The spa philosophy is modeled after the approach of Sebastien Kneipp, a 19th-century German healer who is recognized as a spa industry and integrative medicine pioneer. Kneipp contracted pulmonary tuberculosis as a young man and developed his own cure, which involved taking full-immersion dips in the icy waters of the Danube to literally shock his system back to health. For the rest of his life, he defined and refined his Kneipp Therapy, which is comprised of The Five Pillars: hydrotherapy, herbs/phytotherapy, exercise/kinesiotherapy, nutrition/dietetics and lifestyle/regulative therapy, all of which are practiced at Fonteney.