The concept of ‘wellness’ and going on holiday for your health and relaxation, rather than for fun in the sun, is quite an old one. Certainly ever since Sebastian Kneipp (1821 to 1897) enthused his contemporaries with his philosophy of an holistic approach and naturopathic healing methods, as preventative medicine had not yet been discovered.
Using the healing power of water, medicinal plants and plenty of relaxation was part of his health regime. Today, virtually every self-respecting wellness centre in Germany uses one or more of Kneipp’s methodologies to offer guests healthy alternatives to holidays filled with fast food, racing around sightseeing and dancing the night away in nightclubs.
Wellness centres are not dependent on the weather being fine, so going during off peak times of the year is perfect. Wellness hotels, guesthouses and even wellness working farms often offer fantastically cheap deals at this time. They incorporate 3- to 4-star accommodation and various meals, as well as many health and beauty treatments, dietary regimes and massages, together with the use of saunas, Jacuzzis and swimming pools.
Although essentially summer resorts, Timmendorfer Strand, Travemünde and the islands of Rügen in the Baltic Sea and Sylt in the North Sea offer amazing deals. These places are great for bracing walks by the sea, watching wildlife and eating freshly-caught fish dishes that are not just healthy and low in kilojoules, but also encapsulate the very essence of this part of northern Germany. Here, the rough weather has made hoteliers inventive with regard to the wellness-related treatments and leisure that they offer.
The Baltic Sea coastline has amazing white, sandy beaches and forests running along the shore, while the Wadden Sea National Park, on the edge of the North Sea is a haven for those seeking relaxation and the ability to walk for miles in the salt marshes to spot rare sea birds. The Frisian Islands of Borkum and Norderney, for example, are excellent for wellness holidays on a shoestring budget.
Further south, the Harz Mountains, with their stunningly beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site towns of Goslar, Werningerode and Quedlinburg, offer endless opportunities for sightseeing. In spring, summer and autumn the Harz Mountains, with their rolling hills, forests, lakes, rivers and narrow-gauge steam trains, are perfect for hiking and mountaineering. In winter, both cross-country and downhill skiing is available in resorts such as Braunlage and St Andreasberg. Most guesthouses and hotels offer some form of wellness programme, but for specific treatments and wellness centres, the German Tourism organisation has a wealth of information available.
Further still are the Alps, where, during spring, summer and autumn, the serious hill walker or mountaineer will come into his or her own and, during the evening, all manner of wellness programmes can be enjoyed. The Bavarian Alps are especially good at providing families, who want a holiday with a difference, with alternatives such as holidaying on a working farm, where the owners also provide wellness programmes and can cater for guests with special diets. These farms often provide their own organic produce—from fruit and vegetables to organic dairy and meat products—and kids learn where food actually comes from and how it is grown.
While the above destinations mostly cater for general tourism, certain towns in Germany have a long tradition as spa towns. Baden-Baden, in the federal state of Baden Württemberg, offers massage treatments, fitness centres, tennis, golf, squash and horse-riding, as well as hiking in the beautiful Black Forest hills. Many guesthouses and hotels offer guests a solariums, saunas and spa suites, with both health and beauty treatments and indoor pools.
The larger of the hotels also have their own medical staff on hand who can diagnose and recommend particular treatments, catering for all manner of ailments such as skin complaints, coaching healthy eating, dealing with back problems and more. Body treatments might be Thai massage, a truly energising experience, or aromatherapy treatments with massage, for example.
Germany’s spa resorts are evenly distributed throughout the country and can be either seaside or mountain-based holidays. Where guests are looking to detox and lose weight, while also wishing to get fit, German spa resorts can offer great value for money during off-peak season, as September and October, for example, are still great months to visit the Black Forest with the changing colours of the forests and the weather still being fine and fairly mild.
Improving diet and attitude to food generally is part and parcel of the treatments, and guests can book their accommodation in advance, with three healthy meals per day, leaving them time for sightseeing and body treatments in between.
Today, Germany has the most developed system and approach to herbal use within medicine and preventative medicine of all western countries. Holistic healers have to undergo several years of training and have to be state approved before they can set up in business. Herbs are used far more in conventional medicine in Germany than in any other developed country. As a nation, Germans embrace the concept of wellness as part of their lives far more than in the rest of Europe.
Once the surgical treatment of an illness is over, for example, the holistic approach begins, which is why stroke victims, sufferers with heart disease or people having undergone cancer treatment are offered a ‘Kur’ (a stay in a wellness centre) as part of their recovery program.Write a Comment
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