Spas and Sleep Health: A Sizzling Hot Topic in Spas and Beyond
by Susie Ellis
You know that something is a “hot” topic when it comes to you from many different angles at around the same time. Here are three things that came across my desk in the past 48 hours:
1. “Great Reads: Nonfiction,” People Magazine, April 7, 2008
It isn’t every day that my People Magazine reading alerts me to a book that is useful for my work. However, when I saw this positive mention for Gayle Greene’s new book, Insomniac, and a mention that it is the last book you ever need to read about sleep, I went right to my computer and ordered it.
2. This morning, I received a press release with this headline: “NEW YORK STATE HOTELS AND INNS HELP GUESTS GET A RESTFUL NIGHT DURING NATIONAL BETTER SLEEP MONTH.” It seems there are a variety of hotels offering packages and products to guests in May for Better Sleep Month. These are “designed to celebrate the healthy quality of life difference that only a good night’s sleep can provide.”
3. Also this morning I received an urgent message from Cassandra at our SpaFinder Europe office stating that one of the big papers is doing a story on sleep health and wants me to comment. Their questions included: Is sleep really ‘the new wellness frontier’? Why are spas suddenly taking sleep so seriously? Which spas in the UK do you recommend for Insomniacs?
Even though we at SpaFinder predicted sleep health as a top spa trend for 2007 and again in 2008 as it relates to weight loss, I wasn’t prepared for such a groundswell of interest. The more I learn, the more I am convinced that this pillar of health will become of even greater importance and interest to all of us in the future. Researchers are just beginning to understand this part of our lives in which we spend almost 1/3 of our time.
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Even if you have never been to Brenner’s Park Hotel and Spa in Baden-Baden, Germany, you may have seen this famous photo of their pool, which overlooks a glorious park. We were lucky enough to be there on a crisp sunny fall day where the leaves were turning, and I had to wear a scarf for the first time this season. Staying at Brenner’s is what I imagine life would have been like decades ago if one was European royalty. A stately mansion with talented and friendly servants, outstanding food, a “great room” for tea and conversation, and all of this overlooking the park, where “fuzgenger” (people who are walking) spend their afternoons. And should one ever want to venture out, there is a delightful cobblestoned area of Baden-Baden for world-class shopping.
For spa lovers, there is the spa at Brenner’s. The hotel even has a spa suite with a butler where a couple (or group) can enjoy treatments as well as their own sauna, steam, and whirlpool. Every kind of spa and beauty treatment is available as well as fitness (which is still a bit rare in Europe, although thankfully I am seeing better gyms in hotels nowadays). A short walk away is the famous, 120-year-old Friedrichsbad, where you go through a circuit of water/heat treatments – and yes, totally naked in a mixed-gender crowd. Or for a more modern water bathing experience, the Caracalla Therme has myriad indoor and outdoor pools, and only the sauna area is “no clothing” (not optional).
The greatest treat for me, however, was not all of these luxuries (although we did enjoy them immensely!) but spending some time with Herr Richard Schmitz, who was kind enough to make time for us during our visit. Herr Schmitz is the well-known former managing director of Brenner’s who shepherded this grand hotel for the past 30 years. He reminisced about the genesis of the word “spa” in Europe – since he is the one who decided to add it to the name Brenner’s Park many years ago. His was, in fact, the first European hotel to use the term spa. And notably, he is now working with a small group of dedicated spa-industry enthusiasts to launch the Harvard of spa education in Baden-Baden: a “Spa Academy” that will train management and practitioners from around the world.
Spa past, present, and future. My favorite conversation.
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