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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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       My experience. During my three-day stay, I experienced a number of Kneipp hot and cold hydrotherapies, wraps and massages, all based on the fundamental Kneipp principles. Everything else at Fonteney—from the cuisine to the bracing mountain air to the hypoallergenic bedding in the rooms—supports this wellness focus. In true German style, the facility was a model of efficiency.
       The takeaway. Classic European health spas such as Fonteney have thrived for centuries, probably originating in Baden Baden (literally “bath”), Germany, when the Romans discovered the healing properties of the natural springs there around A.D. 100. In today’s hypertoxic world, with the ever-increasing awareness of all things organic and natural, the time may be right for a return to naturopathic approaches such as Kneipp in the United States.
Hamam Mathilden
Munich, Germany
Summary: Revival and community
     Overview. The basic Hamam concept originated thousands of years ago and is commonly known as the Turkish bath. In ancient times, the Hamam was much more than just a place to cleanse the skin. It was intimately bound with everyday life; a place where people of every rank and station—young and old, rich and poor—could come freely. Hamams enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in Europe during the Victorian era. Today, modern Hamams offer invigorating cleansing and relaxation. The structure of interconnected rooms promotes socializing and community, making it ideal for couples or groups.
       My experience. Like most Hamams, my experience began in the Warm Room, or tepidarium. There, in the hot dry air, the body begins to relax, perspire and detoxify. Next, I moved to the Hot Room, or scaklik, where the intense heat accelerates the detoxification process. In the Hot Room, guests are invited to ladle cool water over their skin to remain comfortable. After the scaklik, I moved to a private room for exfoliation and massage. Exfoliation is the traditional soap scrub with gommage, followed by a head-to-toe olive oil soap scrub down. Next, the attendant performs a deep massage with fragrant oils. The last stop is the Cool Room, or sogukluk. In this quiet haven, guests can sip tea, relax and even nap before departing. The result is truly invigorating and leaves the body smooth and refreshed.
       The takeaway. Technology continues to eliminate more and more opportunities for socialization in the modern world because many spend the majority of their time sitting in front of computer screens or communicating via text messaging. The Hamam concept offers a way to pair healthful body treatments with socialization and connection; a combination that’s sure to appeal to more and more people as technology increases feelings of isolation.

Luxury lives
       In Europe, luxury lives. So do impeccable training, unparalleled service quality, memorable environments, and a deep regard for the individuality and essence of the client and the sanctity of the moment. For decades, skin care and spa treatments have been integral elements of beauty and self-care in European countries. And they continue to thrive, even in a world that offers an ever-expanding menu of quick, aggressive anti-aging strategies. That’s why if?you are wondering how to set your business apart in the United States, Europe’s spas just may hold the answers.