There’s an easier way to chill out on the Algarve coast than hit the beaches crowded with packs of overheated tourists.
The region in the south of Portugal has become a go-to destination for spas, where you can relax with a grape mask, a seaweed wrap or even a “Siberian-Caribbean shower experience.”
Less than 200 metres from the sea near the Algarve’s tourist capital, Albufeira, the five-star spa resort Grande Real Santa Eulália is tempting people with its thalassotherapy, which is based on the therapeutic benefits of sea water.
There are pools for curing everything here — in one pool, counter-currents make it difficult to swim and underwater jets are designed to massage specific muscle groups. Elsewhere, bubbling baths and waterfalls soothe neck and shoulder muscles.
There are cocoons where in you can enjoy seaweed treatments, and seawater streams of different temperatures to stimulate and detoxify your circulatory system.
It’s all very pleasant, but most of all, very good for your health, according to the spa host. The nearby sea might be warm and mineral-rich as well, but at the spa, the temperature is an optimum 35 C — and of course, you won’t have to get sand between your toes.
You’ll need at least six days to feel the benefits of your treatments here, but that shouldn’t be such a hardship: In between spa sessions, you can enjoy watersports, golfing, long walks in the countryside, and sunbathing on some of Western Europe’s most beautiful beaches. See www.granderealsantaeulaliahotel.com.
Seven Spa at Hilton, Vilamoura
This Hilton is particularly popular with golfers, so its new spa will be a hit with golf widows and widowers.
Spa facilities: Water massage, aroma bath, saunas, swimming pool, steam bath, rest area, ice fountain.
Treatments: Seven different kinds of facial treatments; six different kinds of body treatments including a mint scrub and chocolate body wraps; and seven types of massages. Check out the shower experience in which the temperature of the water changes from Caribbean rain to an ice-cold Siberian deluge.
The Lake Spa Resort
This huge, five-star hotel at the edge of the town of Vilamoura was built seven years ago.
Spa facilities: Salt bath, bubble bath, massage pool, sauna, Roman bath, steam bath.
Treatments: Massages, aromatherapy; shower massage with seaweed or thermal mud from the Pyrenees; baths with mud from the Dead Sea; chocolate masks; desert heat thermo-therapy; all kinds of water massages.
Ria Park, Almancil
A five-star hotel in Vale do Lobo, the most exclusive golf area of the Algarve.
Spa facilities: Thalasso pool, sauna, Jacuzzi, Turkish bath, fitness area.
Treatments: Fourteen kinds of dry massages (honourable mention to the peppermint foot massage); hydromassage; facial treatments. Check out the vibrating flotation bath with scented water.
Vila Vita, Porches
A very luxurious five-star hotel with an extravagant garden, where you feel like even the birds are there to entertain guests.
Spa facilities: Steam rooms, sauna, swimming pool, Roman bath, waterfall, rest areas.
Treatments: Massages, algae bath, milk and honey bath, cosmetic treatments, physiotherapy. Be sure to try the snow room with man-made snow.
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