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February 2005

Beauty Spots

Scrub up for 2005 with a wellness weekend

MY feet are soaking in a bowl of hot, soapy water. For an instant, I wonder whether this is really worth the money. Maybe I should be trying this myself at home with a washing-up bowl and a big squirt of bubble bath? And can I really afford the time? A list of endless chores whirls around in my head. I sigh and wrap my fluffy, white bathrobe tighter around me. Do you ever have those moments when you just wish you could stop worrying, cease running around in circles and shut out everything? Ever feel like saying “hold on a minute world, give me a breather”? I’d thought it one time too often. Action was called for. And what better way to gather some precious “me” time than by heading for a wellness weekend in the Bavarian countryside?

And that’s why I’m here—at the Wellvital Hotel Rübezahl in Schwangau. The alpine lodge is about 100 km from Munich—far enough to seem like a holiday, yet close enough to make it a stress-free train-ride away. The family-run hotel boasts a “one million dollar view” of King Ludwig II’s Neuschwanstein Castle and Hohenschwangau Castle, not to mention a spa and wellness center offering a full range of beauty treatments to “transport visitors from the chaotic tempo of busy life to the tranquil rhythm of their inner world.” It sounded perfect—but would it really free me from the stresses of everyday life? I decided to sit back and let Rosa, my beauty therapist for the day, do her stuff...

After my footbath, Rosa leads me into one of the treatment rooms. “And now, peeling,” she tells me, looking at me expectantly. There are a few moments of awkward silence before Rosa speaks again. “You need to undress,” she says. I brush aside my British modesty, strip off and step under the shower. I jump as a cold hand touches my back. It’s Rosa, armed with a pot of gray, grainy substance, which she starts rubbing into my back to exfoliate my skin. “For the peeling,” she explains. Rosa then asks me to lie down on a massage bed and starts covering me in thick layers of a fragrant lotion before zipping me into a heavy, plastic bag. A strange noise starts gurgling from the bottom of the bed and I start to sink into a cavity that has opened up beneath me. Zipped in my body bag, I’m unable to move. But the therapist smiles and tells me to relax and enjoy my 20 minutes in what turns out to be a waterbed. A minute later, I’m bobbing up and down in a sea of nice smells and silky lotions. Apparently this is a “soft pack” in a “Cleopatra bath.” I’m relieved to discover that the Cleopatra element refers to the milk and honey in the body lotions and not to a poisonous asp lurking in the water.

Next on my list of beauty treatments is a full-body massage. Rosa anoints my back with aromatherapy oil and starts to rub it in. The pressure is just right: she doesn’t knead the tight knots of muscles in my back so hard that it hurts, nor does she simply coat me in oil like a basted turkey roast. I wonder if I’m about to suffer a bit of pain to make up for so much pleasure as Rosa asks me to plunge my hand into a bowl of hot paraffin wax as part of my next treatment. I gingerly place the tip of a finger on the surface of the oil. Rosa clearly doesn’t stand cowards. She grabs my hands and plunges them into the bowl, coating them in thick, pink gloves of wax. As this sets, Rosa gets to work on my facial. She then strips my hands free of the wax and massages in some hand cream. My skin has never felt softer, nor have I ever felt so pampered. And that’s the end of my day of beauty treatments, Rosa tells me. I’m free to laze in the sauna, steam room or jacuzzi at the hotel’s Roman thermal baths, which offer lots of delicious-sounding treats, such as “spiral showers of tropical rain and exotic fragrances” and an “ice mist shower.” Or perhaps I’d care to dine in the four-star hotel’s award-winning restaurant, she asks me? Alternatively, I could relax in my room, with its private balcony and superb view of the mountains? You know, with all these decisions, even relaxation can be tough.

Wellvital Hotel Rübezahl
Am Ehberg 31, 87645 Schwangau
Tel. (08362) 88 88; Fax (08362) 817 01
PRICE: Beauty treatment day for him or her: € 145 per person; Room prices, including half-board and use of the hotel’s thermal baths: double room: € 76 per person; single room: € 86 per person.
Public transportation: Train from Munich Central Train Station to Füssen. The hotel is 3 km away from the station. Taxis leave from outside the station or otherwise it’s a pleasant walk to the hotel.
By car: A95 towards Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Take the Murnau-Kochel exit, then head towards Steingaden (Füssen) along the Staffelsee until you reach Schwangau.

Hotel Bavaria in Berchtesgaden offers wellness packages priced at € 114 per person for three days, including two nights’ accommodation. The wellness package includes a massage, a body pack and a bath filled with honey extract, use of the solarium, whirlpool, sauna and steam room as well as a breakfast buffet and a five-course candlelit dinner. The hotel’s masseur, Gregor Veit, lends his healing touch to classic, sport, holistic, full-body and reflexology massages. The hotel is located in the center of Berchtesgaden, 400 m from the bus and train station.
Familie Masberg
Sunklergässchen 11, 83471 Berchtesgaden
Tel. (08652) 966 10; Fax (08652) 648 09

You can learn about the ancient Indian healing methods of Ayurveda at the Residence Starnberger See in Feldafing, Starnberg. Introductory Ayurveda treatments include a full-body Abhyanga massage, a hydro jet massage and use of the pool, sauna, steam room and gym. You also get to spend two nights at the hotel, enjoy the breakfast buffet and three-course evening meal for € 279 per person.
Alternatively, you can try the hotel’s “intensive” Ayurveda weekend. As well as full-body Abhyanga and hydro-jet massages, visitors are also pampered with an oil peeling treatment and a Hawaiian massage. The treatments, plus two nights’ accommodation and half-board, cost € 549 per person.
Residence Starnberger See
Possenhofener Strasse 29, 82340 Feldafing
Tel. (08157) 30 30; Fax (08157) 30 35 00

Hotel Concordia in Bad Wiessee on the Tegernsee offers a two-day wellness package for € 175 per person, including accommodation and a breakfast buffet. The beauty treatments in the package include use of the solarium, a facial and eye treatment, a La Stone body massage with aromatherapy oils and a manicure. The more abstemious can elect to take part in the hotel’s fruit fasting treatments, combined with lots of organized walks.
Hotel Concordia
Klosterjägerweg 4, 83707 Bad Wiessee
Tel. (08022) 86 23-0; Fax (08022) 86 23-50

At the Just Pure Day Spa at Siegesstrasse 13, health guru Gaby Just offers treatments and therapies from ancient times that correspond to lunar phases. During a “waxing” or full moon, “the body breathes in,” according to Just. This is when spa devotees are pampered from head to foot, with skin and hair vitamins, body and face treatments, and nutrition programs. During a “waning” or new moon, “the body breathes out,” Just explains. This is when the body releases, eliminating water, detoxifying and purifying itself. Deep-cleansing measures for the body are emphasized, including salt and algae baths along with peelings. Treatments such as a “blossom bath” or an herbal bath range from € 35 to € 45, with body massages priced from € 65 to € 90.
Tel. (089) 38 35 69 99,

Clarins Institute, Promenadenplatz 9, offers a range of treatments, from body peeling to relaxing back massages or even a pre-wedding beauty treatment.
Tel. (089) 29 01 53 54,

Massage Zentrum at Freisinger Strasse 13a, Hallbergmoos, offers classic massages at € 20 for 30 minutes and € 40 for 60 minutes. An Ayurveda massage will cost you € 52 for 60 minutes.
Tel. (0811) 998 78 93, <<<

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