Last December I discovered another earth-shakingly incredible group of spas. I was invited to Prague to cover their famous Christmas Market. This runs for the month of December and the market was filled with European tourists, stocking up like it was Costco. It was freezing cold, so although I enjoyed the hot mulled wine and nibbling on bits of the superb roasted pig — while warming my hands by the BBQ pit, the shopping was a major disappointment. Buying old lady knitted tchotchkes, heavily-scented candles, or trying to choose from hundreds of dust-collecting wooden puppets, really isn’t my thing.
However, I did love exploring Prague, and have to second TangoDiva Teresa’s rave review of Hotel Josef, the mid-town, totally hip, cool, edgy glass-filled hotel. But as interesting as Prague was, I couldn’t wait to get out of town.
A few months ago, at a local spa in the US, I overheard two well-manicured (I was going to say well-heeled but since this took place in a sauna I couldn’t really tell) women reminiscing about their amazing spa vacation in Karlovy Vary. Gotta admit, I had to Google it to find out where it was. A little more searching and I discovered that:
The spa towns have a long tradition, dating back several centuries. Their past clients include royalty (Czar Peter the Great, King Edward VII of England), composers (Bach, Beethoven, and Wagner), and writers (Casanova, Goethe, and Mark Twain). Since the 1990s, the spa houses have been lovingly restored and the lavish spa architecture and ambience are as much of a draw as the spa treatments themselves. Many people come to the spas not for a “cure” but to relax, increase their energy level, and get away from the grind of their daily life. New programs such a stress-relief, beauty and relaxation weekend as well as “pampering” stays have become very popular.
Some spa hotels cater exclusively to a leisure clientele, with luxurious rooms, gourmet restaurants, and Western-style spa facilities. Both Carlsbad and Marienbad have excellent golf courses, shopping (such as the celebrated Moser glass factory), parks, and plenty of other historical sites in the surrounding area. Both spa towns offer regular concerts and annual cultural festivals.