by Marion Rhodes
Kaleena Carr vividly remembers her first visit to a German spa. It was a romantic getaway with her husband at a wellness hotel in Trier. But her husband wasn’t the only man she saw naked that weekend.
“Right when I opened the door to the sauna – that’s when it occurred to me I was not (in the United States) anymore,” Mrs. Carr said.
Mrs. Carr, wearing a swim suit and a towel wrap, found herself facing a man in his birthday suit, drying his head. “His towel wasn’t covering anything but his ears,” she said.
As Mrs. Carr found out, visiting a German spa or wellness establishment may bear some surprises for Americans. The relaxed, European attitude toward nudity is obvious in those places.
Massage therapists are often present in the room while their clients undress, and the therapist may not worry so much about elaborate draping techniques. When Mrs. Carr and her husband got pedicures, they were amazed to learn that the podiatrist didn’t soak their feet before working on them.
“If you’re not used to it, it’s kind of hard not to be shocked,” Mrs. Carr said. Once you get over your anxiety and relax, however, a spa visit in Germany can be just as soothing as one in the States.
For centuries, certain German cities have been recognized for their health resorts that feature therapeutic spas, because of the word “Bad” at the beginning of the city’s name. Those cities usually offer a variety of wellness providers and activities. They often focus on a specific spa method, such as the use of mineral springs or Sebastian Kneipp’s naturopathic medicine.
Rheinland-Palatinate has 21 officially-recognized spa resorts. In addition to those health resorts, Germany also has a host of beauty farms and wellness hotels like the Eurener Hof, the hotel where the Carrs spent their weekend getaway.
More and more indoor pools, such as Cascade in Bitburg or the Monte Mare in Kaiserslautern, also offer massages, saunas, steam baths or hot tubs. The following is a selection of wellness oases in your area: Bad Bertrich This classical town features a large thermal bath that is watered by 90-degree water of Germany’s only Glauber’s salt thermae.
The city’s Ayurveda health center offers massages, oil affusions, and body exercises. Mineral springs supply the water for the Emser Therme, which also features a sauna world.
The city’s most important healing source is brine, which can be inhaled outdoors at the Saline Valley or bathed in at the thermal bath. There’s also a mine with low radon levels where people with rheumatic and allergic problems can do inhalation therapy.
The local Ahr-Therme offers a unique, relaxing herb-fango treatment, composed of herbs, natural fango and the region’s famous mineral water, “Aqua Balance.”
The Eifel-Therme Zikkurat features an aqua world, sports and children’s pools, outdoor area, saunas, and massages.
The locally employed Felke therapy uses mud in baths and treatments. The resort also offers beauty programs and Germany’s only barefoot walking path.
An air quality grade of 1, or superior, highlights this Kneipp resort, which also offers medical wellness at the Vitalis Bath Center.
Traben-Trarbach/ Bad Wildstein
Bathe in thermal water at the Moseltherme, which also has a therapy and wellness center where you can enjoy pampering rituals from a variety of cultures.
To find a wellness hotel near you:
Call your local tourist information office or visit the Wellness Region website. The site is in German only, but all it takes is one click on the region you are interested in and a list of hotels pop up.