Almost inevitably, a new year inspires visions of a new you – revitalized and resurgent – alongside thoughts of how best to make that happen. This year, instead of a new health club, consider a wellness vacation in a German spa town. For your physical and mental health, Germany offers more than 1,000 wellness and beauty hotels and 350 certified health resorts.
For generations, the combination of clean air, unspoiled surroundings and state-of-the-art therapies has attracted global travelers in search of well-being. After all, Germany is the birthplace of naturopathic treatments. Here are five German wellness destinations where the natural beauty is complemented by gracious hospitality and impeccable service.
Baden-Wuerttemberg: As the Black Forest’s world-famous thermal spa town, Baden-Baden has been a favored locale for the discerning traveler ever since its days as the summer capital of Europe during the Belle Époque.
The town’s 12 thermal spas flow from Baden-Baden’s hot springs, which are located more than 6,000 feet underground. Water temperature can reach as high as 154 degrees Fahrenheit, thereby providing relief for a wide range of circulatory conditions and metabolic disorders.
Many hotels offer their own spa facilities – or you may visit one of the public thermal baths, such as The Friedrichsbad, the Roman-Irish bath that opened in 1877 and guides visitors through 17 well-being stations.
Check into the romantic Hotel Der Kleine Prinz Baden-Baden, a fairy-tale property dating back to 1890 – or consider a suite overlooking the park at Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa, with its Michelin-starred restaurant Brenners Park-Restaurant.
Baltic Sea: The islands and the mainland around the Baltic Sea offer a perfect combination of seaside resorts, salutary climate, and plenty of wellness facilities. Sandy beaches are punctuated with freshwater lakes and rugged cliffs.
The region features picturesque cities with romantic spa hotels such as Schlossgut Schloss Schwansee, a countryside manor with a spa located in the former horse stables. The Neptun Spa and Hotel in Rostock features an expansive, 25,000-square-foot spa that includes a pool with fresh Baltic seawater.
Bavaria: Located in the heart of Europe, Bavaria offers UNESCO World Heritage sites as well as stunning natural landscapes and deluxe spa hotels. The region’s magnificent Alpine scenery features fairytale castles amidst a landscape of rolling hills, crystalline lakes, and emerald forests.
Schedule a visit to the world-famous Schloss Neuschwanstein and then head to the nearby Berchtesgadener Land, part of the UNESCO biosphere reserve that offers indigenous treatments such as hay or whey baths, as well as warm mud treatments.
Choose the Bavarian Alps to recharge amidst mountain scenery with a stay at the 5-star Hotel Schloss Elmau. A sister property, Schloss Elmau Retreat, opens in March 2015 before hosting the G7 summit in June 2015.
North Sea: Located in Northern Germany’s Wadden Sea National Park, St. Peter-Ording has been a leading spa resort for over 150 years. The area’s natural surroundings include sand dunes and pine forests complemented by a salty maritime climate.
The largest national park in central Europe, Wadden Sea National Park is comprised of coastal mudflats and wetlands, including small islands that disappear during spring tides.
Inhale the purity of seaside air with a long walk along the beach. Then indulge in a romantic evening at Strandbar 54 Grad Nord, located in the North Sea and connected by walkway to the mainland.
At the upscale Aalernhus Hotel & Spa, stress-relieving treatments are offered with products that include natural, local ingredients such as amber and algae.
Thuringia: With a broad variety of landscapes, as well as numerous castles and palaces, Thuringia offers a wide range of leisure activities. In 1999, the city of Weimar was the European City of Culture and, for years, visitors have flocked to the statue of Goethe and Schiller, as well as Wartburg Castle, the best known castle in Thuringia.
A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the Thuringian Forest in Eastern Germany is a Nordic walker’s paradise, with a plethora of hiking and ski trails.
Those visitors seeking spas avail themselves of numerous spa towns with access to brine and sulphur springs. Salt treatments have a long history at Bad Salzungen, thanks to the natural saltwater springs, making it one of Germany’s oldest saltwater spas.
The region’s 19 spas and health resorts include Germany’s first organic resort, Bio-Seehotel Zeulenroda, which is located on a peaceful fresh water reservoir.
For more information about wellness vacations in Germany, visit Germany.travel.