I last visited the Topolšica thermal spa some years back, and, though I didn’t stay overnight, I distinctly remember feeling it seemed somewhat dated. On my recent visit I was therefore delighted to discover that significant improvements have been made with the addition of the brand new Ocepkov Gaj Apartment Village and, a few years ago, the Zala Wellness Centre – both of which are shining examples of modern, thoughtful construction and the changing face of Slovenian wellness tourism.
My visit, on a wonderfully hot late-May weekend, coincided with the seasonal opening of the outdoor pool complex – the Zora Water Park..
There is an additional outdoor pool, which is open all year, connected to the indoor pool and whirlpool complex, within Hotel Vesna.
Within the complex there are also Finnish, Turkish and infrared saunas, and Sauna Land in the Zala Wellness Centre features, among others, classic or extreme Finnish saunas, herbal, salt and steam saunas, an ice cave experience and a Kneipp terrace. The fitness centre is also very well-equipped with the latest Technogym equipment.
The new Ocepkov Gaj Apartment Village is the place to stay for a break at Topolšica. The 27 modern well-equipped 4-star holiday houses are set next to the forest in a tranquil location just minutes away from the main hotel and pools. Facilities include free Wi-Fi, plasma televisions, free parking, and a private terrace.
A good way to get a feel for the area, and for a bird’s eye view, is to take a walk or bike ride on one of the many marked paths that start directly from the doorstop. I opted for a hike on the Sonča Pot (Sunny Path), which leads up to Lom and onwards to the highest point of Topolšica at 884m.
The main hotel, the 3-star Hotel Vesna, is nice enough looking from the outside, however, at over 30 years old it is showing its age and in need of modernisation. It’s not all bad, though, the pool facilities, café (with seriously scrumptious cakes!), and public areas are fine. For those watching the pennies and planning to spend most of the time using the pools and/or exploring the area, then the rooms are perfectly acceptable – clean, quiet and surprisingly spacious – but the corridors, room décor, and bedding are, well, a tad dingy.
I tried the 70-minute Zala massage at the Zala Wellness Centre, which combines various massage techniques of classic body massage, shiatsu head massage and reflexology foot massage – sheer bliss!
There are a wide range of treatments on offer – classic and innovative. Among the latter is the Dr. Breuss massage – a speciality back massage named after Dr. Rudolf Breuss from Austria, known for his fasting diets. The gentle, soothing massage is designed to rid the body of physcological and physical blockages for better energy flow. Only a small amount of oil is used and the technique involves light stretching of the spine. It is also one of the few massages which can be carried out on people with acute spinal conditions. This video, though not from the spa, gives an idea of the technique used.
For active types, there’s more than enough to keep you busy here and in the surroundings. I hired a bike from the hotel and cycled through the Šalek Valley (Šaleška dolina) to the 3 Velenje lakes – Velenjsko jezero, Šaleško jezero, Družmirsko jezero.
There’s no escaping the fact that the lakes are right next to the Šostanj thermal power plant, which is a bit of a blot on the landscape, however, if you just avert your gaze away from the plant, the scenery is lovely! The well-arranged paths around the lakes are ideal for strolling, jogging and cycling and in fine weather the Velenje Beach is the place to be. It offers sun loungers, a café/bar, and numerous water sports, such as stand-up paddling and wind-surfing. More about Velenje Beach here – http://www.velenje-tourism.si/en/adventures/the-velenje-beach
Getting there: Topolšica is easiest reached by car. If, however, you are reliant on public transport you can take a train to Velenje or Šoštanj and then a local bus onwards to Topolšica.
© Spas in Slovenia