The word spa comes from the Latin phrase, ‘salus per aquae’, or ‘health through water’. Mineral waters and hot springs – the original spas – have been part of relaxation and healing in many cultures for centuries. Towns with hot springs grew into popular destinations and retreats offering 'cures' for the symptoms of a wide range of ailments. Today these traditional spas still exist although in general the emphasis is now on 'Wellbeing' treatments to maintain good health rather than to cure illness. The understanding of the word 'spa' now also encompasses spa centres in hotels which offer luxury and pampering treatments for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation.
We have classified the spas according to their treatment type or speciality i.e. Thermal Spas, Thalassotherapy Spas, Ayurveda Spas etc. A brief description of the different types is available in this FAQ section. We also classify the spas by destination, if you would prefer to choose your spa by where it is in the world. It is worth noting that many spas today fall into more than one category i.e. most Thalassotherapy and Thermal Spas also offer beauty and relaxation treatments, and several of the Spa Hotels not only offer treatments for beauty and relaxation, but also specialise in another type of therapy for example ayurveda or thalasso. But probably one of the best ways to decide on a spa would be to contact the Sanctuary Spa Holidays reservations team to discuss your requirements so that they can suggest which type of spa may best meet your needs.
Thalassotherapy spas use warm seawater for treatments which are perfect for relaxation and de-stressing, or to provide relief from general aches and pains including back-pain, and can be great as a cure for insomnia. The seawater treatments also have a general detoxifying effect and so can be beneficial for reducing cellulite and for weight loss in combination with a low calorie diet.
Thermal Spring Spas have an onsite source of natural mineral or thermal water. Traditionally the thermal waters were used to treat medical complaints, however today the emphasis is on well-being and preventative therapy. The thermal water is used for baths, showers and inhalations in combination with relaxing, beauty and pampering treatments, excellent to relieve general aches and pains and for pure relaxation.
Ayurveda began in India and is the oldest known health system in the world. Ayurveda aims to prevent and heal diseases and their symptoms, strengthen the immune system, increase the body's general wellbeing and delay the ageing process. Ayurvedic treatment programmes are designed for each individual after consultation with the physician. Most Ayurveda centres also offer daily yoga and meditation as part of the programme.
A Destination Spa aims to provide lifestyle improvement and health enhancement through a combination of exercise, healthy eating, spa and well-being treatments. Destination Spas are good places to visit if you are travelling alone as there are organised classes and activities throughout the day, giving the opportunity to meet other like-minded guests. Personal training and nutritional guidance are also often available.
A Spa owned by and located within a resort or hotel providing professionally administered spa services, with fitness and wellness components and usually spa cuisine menu choices. Hotel Spas have excellent spa facilities and offer a very wide variety of treatment programmes; they may appeal to the spa-goer who would like to combine a spa holiday with other holiday activities.
A centre owned by and/or located within a hotel or resort providing professionally administered beauty and relaxation treatments. The spa experience generally does not extend outside the spa centre to include spa cuisine or exercise classes, however some of the most luxurious spas fall into this category, and are perfect for clients wanting top class pampering as part of a relaxing holiday.
Yes, no problem! Please call our reservations team for a quote on a stay including treatments for you and ‘room only’ for your partner. Many of the resorts we work with offer a range of other activities apart from the spa.
Yes. All of our holidays can be tailor made to specific requirements. We will generally be able to offer you a choice of airlines flying to a particular destination so that you can make your selection based on flight timings or cost.
In most cases we will include a transfer in the cost of your holiday. In all cases the driver will meet you in the arrivals hall of the relevant airport holding a sign with your name and/or the name of the hotel. Please do contact our reservations team to discuss your requirements.
Half board is generally buffet breakfast served in the restaurant plus either lunch or dinner, although some resorts offer breakfast and dinner without the option of exchanging lunch for dinner. Depending on the resort, half board dinner is either served buffet-style or consists of a daily set menu. In a couple of cases, you will be given a daily allowance to use in any restaurant, and anything you spend over that allowance is paid for on departure. Similarly, if you are booked on a half board basis which includes dinner in a particular restaurant and you would like to eat in the ‘a la carte’ restaurant, in most cases you will be given an allowance towards the a la carte meal and any additional cost will be charged to your bill.
In most hotel spas and resorts this is absolutely possible as we fully understand that our clients would like flexibility for their eating arrangements. However at Thalassotherapy, Thermal, Medical, Destination and Ayurveda Spas most programmes include half or full board, and there is no reduction on the price if you do not take the meals included. And obviously if you are on a weight loss programme then a full board (three meals a day) low calorie diet will be an essential part of the programme
All of the resorts do offer vegetarian meals and can cater for other special diets on request. It is important that you notify the reservations team early on in the booking process that you would like a vegetarian diet so that we can check that the particular resort that you are interested in does offer a vegetarian menu.
Some do and some don't. Most Thalassotherapy, Thermal, Medical, Destination and Ayurveda resorts do offer a spa or low calorie menu or a personalised diet served in the main restaurant. Some Spa Hotels and resorts offer 'healthy spa options' within their daily menu, but many do not as clients travelling to these resorts want a true pampering and relaxation holiday where they want to enjoy delicious food and lovely wines as much as the massage and beauty treatments. Please discuss your requirements the Reservations Team.
We strongly advise you to pre-book treatments to avoid disappointment on arrival, however you may be able to book additional treatments once you arrive at your destination. Again, please speak to our reservations team.
Generally the spa centre will allocate your treatment times according to availability over the duration of your stay. However, if you would like to have treatments at a particular time to fit in with other plans, please let the reservations team know your preferred timings when you make your booking and the request will be passed on to the spa. Please note however that specific timings of treatments can not be guaranteed.
Many spa and thalassotherapy programmes include a 'medical consultation' – this is generally a fairly brief check-up to ensure that you are in general good health as there are some treatments that should not be taken if you are suffering from certain medical conditions like high blood pressure. The consultation will also give you the option of explaining what you would like to get out of your treatment programme, so that the doctor can tailor the programme for your particular requirements. For these centres, if you do not wish to have the medical consultation, it is necessary to bring a letter from your doctor at home confirming that you are in good health.
Please note you should always advise the reservations team of any medical condition that you have (including pregnancy) so that we can inform the spa centre before your arrival. At resorts where the emphasis is on beauty and relaxation, the consultation may be replaced by a health questionnaire, and the spa reception will arrange your programme for you. Each resort is different, and for advice on which programmes may be suitable for you depending on what you would like to achieve from your holiday, please contact our reservations team.
Most Destination Spa resorts do not accept any children under the age of 16 or 18. The majority of Spa Hotels do accept children, however their spa centres do not allow those under 16 to use the facilities (except the indoor pools at certain times of the day). To ensure a relaxed ambience, we also advise that you avoid taking your spa holiday during school holiday periods (including half terms) as some of the Spa Hotels we work with, though peaceful havens for most of the year, can become very busy with families during school holiday periods. Please ask our reservations team for more advice.
While our featured hotels are cosmopolitan and key personnel will always have a good standard of English, you will often find that the therapists do not have more than a few words. Generally this does not prove a problem, as there will usually be someone at the spa reception who can help with any queries that you have. Many of our clients are happy to get by with hand signals and a smattering of the local language, and exercise classes can usually be followed even if the instructor is teaching in the local language.
Where there is a consultation before you commence your treatments the doctors will either speak English, or we will have arranged for someone to be present who can translate. However, please let us know if you feel uncomfortable or are worried about being unable to speak the local language, and we can then advise on which resorts will be more suitable.
Although very few of the holidays we offer are specifically set up for singles, a large percentage of our clients do travel by themselves. In fact, not having to worry about anyone else is often the best way to get the most out of a relaxing break! The more traditional Thermal Spas, Thalassotherapy Centres, Medical and Destination Spas are very used to this and you certainly will not be the only one on your own. However whether somewhere is suitable or not does depend to a large extent on each individual client and what they are looking for in their holiday, so please do contact our reservations team who can discuss with you which resorts might most closely match your requirements.
Although the majority of clients at spa resorts do still tend to be female, this is a decreasing majority, with an increasing number of men discovering in particular the anti-stress, relaxation and fitness benefits of a spa programme. We can certainly offer a holiday without treatments, or with a basic programme of daily massage. Many resorts also have excellent sports facilities and are close to first class golf courses, so even if the actual treatment part of a programme does not appeal, there are plenty of other ways to make the most of a break with Sanctuary Spa Holidays.