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By Megan Finley
Germany is the birthplace of homeopathy as well as more than 350 approved health resorts and spas. The word spa is an acronym for the Latin phrase “sanus per aquam,” meaning “health by water.” The Germans adopted the spa culture from the Roman empire when bathing was used by soldiers returning from battle as a form of hydrotherapy. Europe’s royalty and leaders would meet at the popular German spa resort towns for a little rest and relaxation.
In modern Germany, most citizens with the support of the German federal health care system can take advantage of one of the most all-inclusive wellness spa cultures in Europe. Every three years, those who enjoy the perks of the German medical system may be eligible to request a medical cure for ailments, including stress, headaches and exhaustion. If approved, the patient is sent to a health spa, usually for about three weeks, where they receive a customized exercise, relaxation and nutrition regimen. Most patients leave the spa feeling relaxed and refreshed.
These spas are often referred to in German as “Heilbad,” meaning “healing bath,” or “Kurort,” meaning “cure place.” Towns with the word “Bad” before the town name, for example Bad Dürkheim, have met stringent air and water quality standards. These towns are known for providing some of the best medical staff and infrastructures for patients seeking medical treatment.
Outside of the healing facilities, anyone can enjoy the leisure spas. Thermal baths offer an opportunity to relax in a natural atmosphere, free of noise and over-stimulation.
Spa etiquette is quite particular, so if you decide to partake, you should pay careful attention to certain rules. Depending on the spa, swimsuits may be worn in pool areas. However, the saunas, steam baths and massage areas are towel-only. Showering before entering the pools, saunas or baths is always required. Footwear must be left outside the saunas, but feel free to wear shoes into the steam baths. When entering the sauna, shut the door quickly to keep the heat inside. Last but not least, always sit or lie on a towel.
One important thing to keep in mind is the German’s relaxed attitude towards nudity. Therapists will not worry so much about keeping clients covered. Most areas of the spa are coed and nude. Just stay relaxed and enjoy the experience.
The southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg offers great resort experiences at a variety of locations. Baden-Baden and Bad Dürkheim are just two of the many towns in the sate offering a variety of spa choices. Baden-Württemberg hugs the border of France, and visitors enjoy not only the spas but fantastic food as well.
Whether you want to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life or simply experience one of Germany’s most enjoyable cultural aspects, the spa experience may be just the right choice.
For more information on Germany’s wellness hotels and spas visit www.wellness-regionen.de/Deutschland.