Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Original Spa

Spa: n. 1 A mineral spring or a place where such a spring is found. 2 A resort area having mineral springs.

If you ever wondered where the word spa came from, look no further than in Belgium. Spa is a small town in Wallonia, tucked in the rural surroundings of the Ardennes, in the province of Liege. Spa has held a prominent place in history, coining the term spa to name any resort place with mineral springs with healing properties and claiming to have had the first casino built in the world. Any other than that, Spa is a very quiet town with some elegant buildings, cosy brasseries and cafés, a couple of parks and green surroundings.

Before leaving the Netherlands a couple of weeks ago Boyfriend and I decided to drive to the town of Spa for a day. We wanted to give its historical spa a try and we knew that once we moved out of the Benelux, we would never consider a trip to Spa - even though we might eventually relocate to Belgium or the Netherlands again, you never know, but not in the next couple of years. Les Thermes de Spa is located on a small hill overlooking the city. You can drive and park there directly or get there via an elevator from the centre of the town. Photos looked fine in the website, prices were affordable and even Lonely Planet mentioned it on its guidebooks. However, Les Thermes de Spa was a big disappointment for both of us. There were only two big swimming pools, an indoor pool and an outdoor pool, a couple of bubble tubes and a sauna and hamman complex. Of course, there were also a restaurant, a lounging room and beauty treatments galore, but we didn't try those extras. Maybe we didn't explore the facilities enough or maybe we've been too spoilt in Switzerland's top class thermal baths, but whatever the reason we felt quite deceived by the simplicity of the complex which gave rise to the spa trend worldwide. At 20€ for three hours it didn't sound expensive, until we found out that there was not that much to do in three hours and for the first time we left the spa facilities before out time was over.





Besides the thermal baths, Spa is also renown as the home of one of the most prestigious Formula 1 circuits, Spa-Francochamps. Once a year and usually in August, Spa is flooded by car enthusiasts from all over the world who pay a small fortune to enjoy a two hours adrenaline rush. I also passed by the circuit to take a look and I cannot say I was impressed either. In a very Belgian state of things, the circuit seemed to be almost abandoned. There were no signs to reach the parkings and no directions at all on how to enter the part of the circuit open to visitors. We slipped through a half open fence and made our way among containers and a couple of construction workers. Eventually we found a tunnel for pedestrians and some arrows pointing us to the restaurant and gifts shop.


That was our day in Spa and actually the second time we had been there. A couple of years ago we had already stopped there to take a look at the town and we had been curious about Spa's spa ever since. Almost two years later we we went back to Spa and tried the spa and I can now tell you that it is probably a very overrated spa complex. I guess it can happen!

Do you also enjoy thermal baths when on holidays? Or treat yourselves from time to time? Any recommendation?
Have a lovely weekend!

7 comments:

  1. Irene, first of all I never knew there was a town called SPA! HaHaHa I swear I learn something new everyday. It's a pretty little town. I could tell you were disappointed. It's a horrible feeling when you're expecting something from a place and it doesn't live up to expectations. You would think with the name alone, there would be nothing buy fabulous things there. I go to various spa's here in the state, but it's usually to get a manicure, pedicure, or massage. I once got a mud and then honey treatment. Messy, but my skin felt great afterwards. HAHAHA
    http://www.averysweetblog.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I would love to spoil myself with such rich treatments some time - I've never even had my nails done! But in the meantime I'll keep on enjoying the thermal waters :)
      You're so right, Kim, it totally sucks when you have great expectations about a place only to find out that it is totally overrated and overpriced!

      Delete
  2. I'd really like to visit Spa. Sounds like a lovely town. Thanks for sharing!
    sparkle2day.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anda qué interesante!!Es cierto que a mí me suena más por lo de la fórmula !,ejejje. Bss, Irene. Son unas fotos muy bonitas y seguro que el sitio es de lo más relajado.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A mí tb me sonaba más por la fórmula 1 y de hecho fue la primera razón para ir y así descubrir la historia del sitio. Pena que el spa no estuviera a la altura de las circunstancias jejeje

      Delete
  4. You had me at the name Spa. :) I'm a big spa fan, so much that I can give up shopping as long as I get spa treatments monthly. An unforgettable spa experience was in New Zealand,Polynesian Spa in Rotorua where they had these natural mineral pools with different temperatures. If given the chance, I'm quite curious to try Turkish baths. Every time we visit a place with hot springs or thermal bath, we usually end up trying them. Despite the disappointment in the facilities, the town looks charming and beautiful. Have a lovely weekend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm also a spa girl, it's one of my favorite things to try, wherever it's possible. That spa in New Zealand sounds great! I've been to a couple of spas in Switzerland I've loved. One of them had breathtaking views of the Alps and being in the outdoor pool while it was snowing was the experience of a lifetime. There's another one close to Basel which has many thermal baths with different temperatures and also scented damp baths and tropical and alpine showers. It's a great place to spend a lazy weekend :)

      Delete

Thanks for your comments!
I appreaciate your love and reactions.
I'll take a look at your blogs and I'll try to reply as soon as possible
Feel free to follow if you like :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...