So spa so good
The popularity of relaxing in spa waters is nothing new. The Egyptians used thermal baths for therapeutic purposes as did the ancient Greeks. Hippocrates mentions them in his book “Epidemics” and recommended hydrotherapy to treat jaundice and rheumatism. What can be more relaxing than being pampered in luxurious surroundings? Unfortunately the cost of such an extravagance is beyond most of us, so I was delighted to find that it is possible to be indulgent but on a budget.
In mid-April TheBAY was invited to visit Lithuania as the guest of Kaunas Airport Tourism Centre. Following on from last month’s article about our stay in Kaunas town and the sights and places to visit in the locality, here we explore some of the spa hotels and resorts within easy reach of Kaunas airport.
The balneological town of Birštonas is a 40 minute bus ride South of Kaunas on the river Nemunas. Balneology is the science dealing with the therapeutic effects of baths and bathing and Birštonas is one of the oldest and most popular resorts of its type in Lithuania.
Surrounded by parkland and a sculpture park with the river running through it, Birštonas is an ideal resort for families with bike hire and fishing along with spa treatments. We visited the Sonata Hotel where the rooms were beautiful but relatively inexpensive with prices starting at less than £40.
The Royal Residence Health Centre and Spa counts members of the Vilnius basketball team as permanent residents. The spa which appeared to be modelled on an ancient Roman baths can be hired by the hour and offers a swimming pool with Jacuzzis, two saunas a steam bath and a luxurious hammam. The rooms again are of a very high standard and decorated with traditional antique Lithuanian furniture, but again these too are available from less than £40 per night.
Birštonas also has two downhill ski slopes, one 160m long red trail and a 300m long blue trail with ski-lift and artificial snow machines when the real thing isn’t available. Although the snow on the ground during our visit in April suggested that they don’t always need the artificial variety.
Our tour ended with a visit to Harmony Park, a resort including luxury accommodation, equestrian facilities, tennis, badminton, beach volleyball, canoeing, running, cycling, fishing all set within a little under 400 acres. The park is the brain-child of Lithuanian businessman and philosophical entrepreneur Augustinas Rakauskas who has invested a staggering ten-million euros into making the resort a flagship destination.
Relaxing in the water and sauna area of the spa brought welcome relief to the icy cold air of spring time in Lithuania.
Lithuania may not be the place that immediately springs to mind when contemplating a weekend spa break or longer, but I would certainly recommend it. The standard of hotels and spas offer exceptional value for money and include free use of the pools and spas. With regular flights from Bristol airport, a journey time of less than 3 hours and flights from £30 it is certainly wort considering.
Ryanair flights from Bristol to Kaunas start from £30.
Kaunas Tourism Information Centre: www.kaunastic.lt