Dobrna: Tradition & Heaven® in Slovenia’s Oldest Spa

As soon as I left the motorway and arrived in Dobrna, there were two words that immediately sprung to mind – green and tranquil – both of which are at the top of my list when I’m seeking a short break away. Whatever the reason for your visit, it’s impossible not to feel calm and relaxed in this lush environment, which just beckons to be explored.

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The Dobrna Thermal Spa is the heart of this small town. It isn’t the most modern of Slovenia’s thermal spas – it is actually the oldest! Its origins date way back to 1403, and through the years it has seen a lot of history, and historical figures, including, in 1810 Louis Bonaparte, brother of Emperor Napoleon 1, who came to Dobrna to recuperate. During World War 1 it housed a military hospital; in the time between the two wars the spa buildings were renovated and expanded; during World War II it was again used as a hospital. It was after World War II that Dobrna began to boom, and today continues to attract visitors from all over Europe.

Shortly after arriving I went for a stroll around the magnificent Spa Park, which is undoubtedly the town’s star attraction.  The park dates back to around 1820 when chestnut trees were planted to form an alley between the Spa House and Dobrna.

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The immaculately maintained park contains some majestic trees.

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From the exterior some of the  buildings that comprise the spa look as if they would benefit from a lick of paint. However, this is a minor detail, and, as we all know, appearances can be deceptive! Dobrna is steeped in history and tradition, which is as much a part of a visit as are the on-site facilities and services.

I stayed in the four-star Hotel Vita, which is the newest of the three hotels and houses the majority of the facilities – a massage and beauty centre, thermal pools, a medical centre, saunas, 2 restaurants, seminar facilities, and more.

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Those interested in feng shui should consider staying in the four-star Villa Higiea. Built in 1855, it has been renovated and remodelled several times, the latest being in 2007 when the first floor was refurbished according to feng shui principles.

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The three-star Hotel Park, built in 1875, was renovated in 2008, and is particularly suitable for those seeking an active budget-friendly break to explore the surroundings on foot or by bike.

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As with all of Slovenia’s thermal spas, the thermal water is the heart of its existence. The water at Dobrna, is known particularly for its effectiveness at treating infertility and other gynaecological problems, and the spa has even developed its own range of women’s intimate-care products.

The Spa House is the oldest of the original buildings still standing. It was originally built in 1624, and throughout the years has been frequently remodelled. Unfortunately, the building has seen better days and it would take a huge investment to get it back to its glory. Thus, today it no longer operates as a hotel, however, you can still visit to the see the thermal water spring and thermal pool – both originally dating from 1624, to take one of the various thermal and salt baths, or to drink the thermal water direct from the spring.

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Whilst browsing through the list of treatments available at the La Vita Spa & Beauty Centre, one named ‘Heaven®’ particularly caught my eye. It uses a range of organic productsHeaven® by Deborah Mitchell – which, if the claims are to believed, are used by many celebrities including Kylie Minogue, Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow, Beyoncé, and even Kate Middleton! Well, if it’s good enough for them, then I thought I’d give it a go! I had the 90-minute ‘bee sting facial’ which uses bee venom to produce a youthful effect on the skin, similar to Botox.

Personally I find there’s nothing more annoying than paying a fortune for a treatment during which a mask is applied by the therapist, who then disappears for 15 minutes to ‘allow the mask to work’. Fortunately, that was not the case here and whilst the mask worked its wonders I enjoyed a relaxing foot massage. I’ve since discovered that this range of products are only available at a handful of places in Europe, so it’s something of a coup for them to feature at Dobrna and definitely worth a try.

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The Medical Diagnostic and Rehabilitation Centre comprises an outpatient clinic, a laboratory and a therapeutic rehabilitation centre. A team of professional doctors and therapists offer personalised programmes in areas including gynaecology, urology, oncology, neurosurgery, neurology, dermatology, rehabilitation, physical therapy and aesthetics.

Those looking for water-based fun should head to the indoor and outdoor pools, where there are also separate children’s pools plus a whirlpool, all containing thermal water, as well as Sauna Land containing steam and Finnish saunas.

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I was up with the lark the next morning to make the most of my limited time to explore Dobrna’s lush, green surroundings. I began with a walk to one of the nearby hills to get a birds-eye view of the surroundings,  then around the forest trim trail, after lunch a stroll on the path by the Dobrnica stream, and finally a swim in the thermal pools.

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The walking and cycling paths are very well marked and there really is a lot of choice. Other sights of interest, which, for the time being, remain on my ‘to do’ list include the ruins of Snake Castle (Kačji grad), the Valley of Mills, the Šumečnik waterfall, and numerous other walking, hiking and cycling trails.

Recommended for – children will enjoy the pools, however, during my visit I didn’t see many and I’d say that Dobrna is more suited to adults and is particularly ideal for those who love hiking, peace, and wonderful nature, as well as those seeking some pampering beauty treatments or a medical/rehab programme.

More information about all the above can be found here – http://www.en.terme-dobrna.si/

© Spas in Slovenia 2016

 

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