Detox and Serenity at Šmarješke Toplice

The Terme Šmarješke Toplice spa is located in a tranquil corner of the Dolenjska region. It is entirely surrounded by green parkland and is ideal for a complete switch-off from the hustle and bustle of every day life.

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My visit at the end of April coincided with unusually late-spring snowfall so it really was a tale of two halves. The first day was very cold and snowy, whilst, by the second day, the sun had made a welcome comeback and I was able to see the area in (almost) its full glory. It was, however, sad to see the destruction that the late-spring snow caused to the surrounding vineyards and forests. A reminder of the power of nature.

This was the view from my room when I arrived.

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And this was the view an hour or so later! I know which I prefer! How about you?

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I stayed at the four-star superior Hotel Vitarium, which has modern well-appointed rooms. The resort also comprises two 4-star hotels – Hotel Šmarjeta and Hotel Toplice.

Shortly after arrival, and seeeking sanctuary from the blizzard raging outside, I headed to the fitness centre, which I was delighted to find is modern and well-equipped and even includes an altitude training chamber.

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The warmth of the sauna also looked rather inviting on such a chilly day! The Sauna World comprises Finnish, Turkish, Roman, and herbal saunas.

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The first medical wellness centre in Slovenia was founded at Smarjeske Toplice over 20 years ago. The centre specialises in the rehabilitation of heart conditions and problems with veins, as well as a full complement of other services. These days, however, it is also home to the very modern Vitarium Spa & Clinique which offers  a comprehensive range of beauty and pampering treatments.   

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I opted for the Vitarium massage which uses grape seed oil.

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The Vitarium Premium Selection slimming and detox programmes are particularly popular amongst guests, many of whom return every year for an annual detox (or two!).  There are 7, 10, or 14 night programmes, which include a very comprehensive range of services such as a medical check-up, tissue structure analysis, consultations with a nutritionist and personal trainer, massages, Fango mud wraps, detox treatments, Pilates and other exercise sessions, as well as a whole host of other services designed to make you leave feeling fitter and lighter.

For obvious reasons the outdoor pool complex wasn’t open during the time of my visit, however, the outdoor pool at the Vitarium Aqua centre was open as well as the indoor pools and whirlpools, all filled with thermal water.

Terme Šmarješke Toplice, during winter

The next day, wrapped up well, I ventured out to explore the surroundings. Šmarješke Toplice set up one of the first Nordic walking centres in Slovenia. There are daily guided Nordic walks, or, like me, you can just borrow a pair of Nordic hiking poles and head off on a journey of discovery! There are 9 well-marked routes, which start directly from the resort, ranging in length from 2.5 – 12 kilometres.

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Less than a 10 minute walk from the resort you can pay a visit to the beekeeper Stane Gorenc, who will be delighted to show you his hives, small museum and shop selling honey and honey products.

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The hotel has several restaurants. Those on full or halfboard, and not on a specific medical programme, dine in the Fontana restaurant, which was modern, bright and the food was delicious. Unlike most of the spas I have visited, where half or full board meals are buffet-style, here the starters and desserts are buffet-style, whilst guests can choose a main course from a choice of five daily menus. The focus throughout is on locally produced food, with as few food miles involved as possible. This locally-produced cheese was a nice touch.

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Getting there: By far the easiest way to reach Šmarješke Toplice is by car. If, however, you are reliant on public transport then the nearest major hub is the city of Novo Mesto, from where there are a few buses per day.

Find more information about Šmarješke Toplice here – http://www.terme-krka.com/us/en/destinations/smarjeske-toplice/

© Spas in Slovenia 2016

 

Sea, Salt & Spa in Strunjan

Let me begin this blog by saying that I’m not a person who is drawn to the sea – hills, mountains and forests are more my thing. However, I defy anyone, whether a lover of the coast of not, not to be enthralled, as I was, by the green haven that is Strunjan, and I haven’t stopped raving about it since!

Located halfway between Izola and Piran, Strunjan really is one of the nicest, most pristine, parts of Slovenia’s 42km of coastline, featuring the tallest cliffs in the Adriatic, tree-lined avenues, invigorating sea air, a nature park, salt pans, and so much more!

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I stayed in the four-star Svoboda Hotel, part of the Talaso Strunjan resort, which is particularly known for its thalassotherapy treatments. The resort also comprises the three-star Laguna Hotel, the four-star Villa Park annex, and family villas located just 100 metres from the Svoboda Hotel.

This was the view from my room, not bad hey! The water you can see is the Štjuža lagoon which forms part of the Strunjan Nature Park.

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Shortly after arrival I went for a walk around the lagoon and then up the steep cobbled street leading to St. Mary’s church – the most important pilgrimage centre in the whole of Istria.

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After my walk it was time to try out one of the thalassotherapy treatments, which harness the properties of the surrounding natural resources – sea, salt and mud – and are known not only for being relaxing, but also having optimal healing effects. I tried out a combination treatment which began with a Fango wrap, using marine mud – also known as ‘black gold’ – followed by a relaxing salt pan massage. Here’s the before…

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And the during …

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For the massage small linen pouches filled with salt crystals are used, which are then dipped in a mixture of 4 essential oils, again with an emphasis on scents from the surroundings – lavender, rosemary, orange and basil.

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The resort also features indoor and outdoor pools, whirlpools and children’s pools, containing heated seawater, so you can enjoy swimming in the seawater all year round!

The Istrian stone-built saunas comprise Finnish, Turkish, infrared, aromatic and salt saunas.

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Strunjan boasts 2,300 hours of sunshine per year, so I was pretty unlucky that I woke up to cloud and drizzle on the second morning of my stay. However, I didn’t let that stop me and still went out for a walk to Lucan, following route 6 of the 8 well-marked walking trails. It was well worth it and the combination of the sea views, vineyards and olive groves gives the feeling of being in Tuscany, yet by the sea! The sights and smells, the flora and fauna, and the views, oh the views! I can only imagine that on a clear day it must be even more breathtaking!

There are also plenty of well-marked cycling routes that lead directly from the resort.

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From Strunjan you can see along the coastline to Piran, Slovenia’s most popular coastal town, often referred to as the ‘jewel of the Adriatic coast’. I took the opportunity to sit in the bay at Strunjan and watch the sun setting, as this is something I don’t get to see living in Gorenjska, where the sun sets behind the mountains. Simply magical!

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The Strunjan salt pans are a must-visit, and just a 10 minute stroll from the resort.

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The two salt maker’s houses now operate as a museum where visitors can take a guided tour and learn about the process of salt harvesting.

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I’m kicking myself that after 9 years of living here I have only just discovered Strunjan and am already counting the days until my next visit!

You can find more information at Talaso Strunjan here – http://www.terme-krka.com/us/en/destinations/strunjan/

© Spas in Slovenia 2016