Croatia's Best Wellness Centers and Spas
From the ancient Ottoman tradition of soaking and steaming in Turkish baths (hammams) to the deeply entrenched sauna culture of Scandinavian countries, each of the world’s great cultures has its own unique wellness tradition. And Croatia is no exception.
“The spa culture here has evolved into what Americans are looking for,” says Wanda Radetti of professional travel company Tasteful Croatian Journeys. “It [the wellness culture] was originally medicinal in purpose -- about health and not necessarily pampering,” explains Radetti, who has been lauded by Condé Nast Traveler Magazine as the top Croatia travel specialist. “My mother used to go all the time; it was not costly or luxurious. Treatments targeted things like breathing and heart conditions. But the culture has been elaborated now into what we can call spas.”
The Croatian word for “spa” is toplice, and you’ll see the word referenced on many websites as well as emblazoned on hotel signs throughout the country. And while some of Croatia’s healing centers are still fairly utilitarian in terms of aesthetics (after all, the tradition was just as important in communist times as it is today), you’ll find everything from luxurious spas in 5-star hotels to thermal spring-fed healing pools in austere surrounds scattered across the country, from the Croatian Riviera in Opatija to the Adriatic coast.
Whether you have chronic medical ailments –- or just want some good old spa hedonism along the lines of a hot-stone massage –- there’s a world-class wellness center in Croatia with a targeted treatment. Read on for our picks for Croatia’s top wellness centers and spas in the various health-oriented hotspots.
Krapinske TopliceIn Croatia’s scenic interior, in the famed thermal village of Krapinske Toplice, you’ll find one of the county’s top wellness centers at the award-winning Hotel Villa Magdalena. About an hour north of Zagreb, the villa is family-owned and operated, lending an intimate feel, and the healing waters streaming into its spa come from local thermal springs rich in restorative minerals such as calcium, magnesium and hydro-carbonate. Many people come to the village to take the healing waters after undergoing surgical and neurological procedures related to the musculoskeletal system.
There’s almost no sulfur in the water here, which trickles through Lithuanian limestone, so there are no stinky smells. And the water’s slight natural radioactive effect helps patients suffering from sciatica, rheumatism, coronary diseases and vascular and circulation issues. All of the apartment-style suites at Villa Magdalena have private whirlpools fed by the thermal waters, which are incorporated into all treatments.
LivadeA little over 6 miles from the Slovenian border in the Istrian village of Livade is Istarske Toplice, a renowned health resort that incorporates health treatments using curative mud applied directly to the skin and blasted off with healing thermal waters. The unique properties of the water supplying the resort is said to treat everything from dermatological issues such as psoriasis and dermatitis to sinusitis, laryngitis and even secondary sterility (being unable to conceive a second child after you’ve already given birth to a first). The facility has 270 onsite rooms, and meal plans are available during your stay so you literally don’t have to plan anything other than your next soak or massage.
RovinjIf you require a good dose of pleasing aesthetics with your wellness experience, make the trip to the beautiful north Adriatic seaside town of Rovinj to stay at swanky Hotel Lone, a design hotel set in the forest just 10 minutes from the city center. The 236 rooms and 12 suites here are clean-lined and decorated with soothing wood and stone elements, setting a soothing tone for relaxation. And the hotel’s contemporary spa offers treatments like ocean-mud wraps, lymph-draining and cellulite-burning massages, foot reflexology and facials designed to specifically target and tone male skin.
Another top spot for wellness in Rovinj is the luxurious Hotel Monte Mulini, with its hydro-massage pools and ritualistic thermal recovery treatments that incorporate natural scrubs and algae detoxification, leaving you feeling positively reborn.
OpatijaLocated in Kvarner Bay on the Croatian Riviera, the seaside town of Opatija has long been a winter health-resort town for the privileged class and is one of Europe’s oldest and most renowned wellness destinations. The region’s mild climate is enhanced with healing properties from the sea, and most of the hotels here offer spa facilities to take advantage of both.
One of the best is Five Elements Wellness and Spa at the Hotel Ambassador Opatija, where the two-story facility includes a Finnish sauna, Turkish bath, whirlpools and a Cocoon Room with waterbeds. Treatments stick mostly to universal offerings such as anti-stress massages, seaweed wraps and hot-stone therapies. Nearby, at the Hotel Adriatic’s luxurious wellness facility, indulge in caviar facials, ritualistic green-tea baths (with anti-oxidant properties), and water-based thalasso treatments enhanced with de-aging products.
Now that you have some of Croatia’s very best spa destinations on your radar, all you have to do is book a flight and start thinking about the treatments that will best suit your own personal wellness agenda.
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