You can try, but it’s difficult to rein in expectations when heading to Switzerland for a spa-cation. The picture-perfect European wonderland which routinely tops ‘happiness’ indices exemplifies a holistic quality of life. So, when I was invited for a four-day trip to Bad Ragaz—a scenic village in eastern Switzerland—famous for its thermal springs, I expected, well, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Bad Ragaz’s genesis is intricately tied to the discovery of a thermal spring in the Tamina Gorge in 1242. A steady stream of visitors to the spring led to human settlement in its vicinity, and in 1840 a four-kilometre pipe was laid to divert the spring’s water into town. Today that mineral-rich hot water gushes straight into a public pool at the Grand Resort—widely considered Europe’s leading well-being and medical health resort—where I was deposited for the length of my stay. Nestled in the foothills of the snow-capped Pizol Mountains, it’s a pretty grand vista you wake up to at the Grand Resort. I made a note to myself that it would make sense to come here even without an agenda. But on this occasion I was quickly briefed on what the next four days had in store for me: a different treatment for each day.
The introduction came with an ‘aqua-fit’ session in the thermal pool that is aimed at regulating blood pressure. I was eased into a pool called ‘36.5 degrees wellbeing,’—a reference to the temperature of the water that, amazingly, matches that of the human body. There’s no discomfort when you step into the pool and while I couldn’t gauge how much it improved my cardiovascular function, pulmonary circulation and respiration (as the therapist said it would), my allergies, always on edge, made a hasty retreat (they’re yet to make a comeback!).
The highlight was the Thalgo – Thalasso detox treatment on the third day. The cozy spa suite, replete with aromas, dim lighting and low decibel music was perfectly matched with the treatment that focused on the application of brown- and red-algae gel. Christine Folz, my assigned therapist, alternated that with an interplay of hot and cold Tamina stones to stimulate metabolism and de-stress muscles.
Equally fantastic were the ‘body-worshipping’ sessions, held, hold your breath, underwater! There’s something about being immersed in the thermal water that allows you to get an insight into your own body—with a little direction I was able to identify minute stress and pain points. The ‘hydro-therapeutic body adaptation programme,’ involved quick alternating sessions between the thermal pool and dry saunas. A ‘body adaptation programme,’ ensued—in this therapy the body is forced to adapt to different temperatures and moisture content which fires up its metabolic engines. Rounding things off was the thermal water massage where a therapist helped me float in a certain manner that is supposed to normalise blood circulation. It felt like I was flying in water.
Needless to say, everything I ate during the four days was curated by a nutritionist. The ‘Cuisine Equilibree’ is all about a balanced diet to complement the spa programme that one is undertaking. For a vegetarian like me that included healthy hay soup—a Swiss specialty; a dish called phad phuk ruam served in semi-cut pineapple; and various artichoke salads. The food kept me light and energetic and active enough to enjoy the occasional hike and walks about town.
Wellness in Bad Ragaz is so expansive a concept that it’s difficult to articulate it within the scope of this article. In four days I looked and felt much better, hopeful and re-invigorated to take on the future, and even developed a renewed passion for the outdoors. On the last day, when the yoga instructor at The Grand Resort quoted BKS Iyengar about ‘rendering the body a vehicle fit for the soul’, it gave me goose pimples. It can be done—just give me three months at Bad Ragaz.
Location: Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, CH-7310 Bad Ragaz, Switzerland
Tariff: CHF 385 per person per day onwards; see website for various spa packages
Contact: Tel. +41 0 81 3033030; firstname.lastname@example.org; resortragaz.ch