Content and Editorial Director
Thalassotherapy might be a popular wellness treatment in Europe, but most of us on the other side of the pond aren’t quite as familiar with it. Thalassotherapy gets its name from the Greek word thalassa, which means sea or ocean. The therapy utilizes seawater, spa therapy and the salty ocean climate to improve health and promote an overall sense of well-being.
The practice dates back to ancient Roman times, when soldiers used hot seawater baths to recuperate after battles. Thalassotherapy has grown in popularity since then and can now be found along most European coasts. It’s particularly popular in locations with a maritime climate, such as France, Spain and Greece, where seawater can be drawn locally and used in baths, pools and treatments.
Thalassotherapy can take many forms. Here are some of the most popular treatments.
Soaking: A key component of thalassotherapy is immersing yourself in seawater. Some treatments may also involve soaking in water that contains seaweed or sea mud.
Showering: Many treatments involve showering in seawater that contains minerals from the ocean. Practitioners often use hydromassage from high-pressure jets of water to soothe muscles.
Wraps, Scrubs and Masks: Thalassotherapy spas use a range of marine products in their treatments, such as a thalasso wrap, during which seaweed or marine mud is applied to the body, which is then wrapped in a hot blanket. Therapists may also use sea salt scrubs, mud masks and other aquatic products.
Exercising: Many thalassotherapy programs include aquatic exercise, such as swimming.
Breathwork: Thalassotherapy spas encourage visitors to inhale steam from seawater and to take in the sea air around them.
Ready to indulge in some deeply relaxing thalassotherapy treatments? Here are a few of our favorite seaside spas where you can soak up all the soothing benefits.
Gurney’s Montauk Resort and Seawater Spa – USA
This gorgeous oceanfront resort in Montauk, New York, is considered by many to be the only true thalassotherapy spa in the United States. There are others that offer seawater-based treatments, but Gurney’s is the only one that adheres to the standards set by the International Federation of Thalassotherapy. Its 30,000-sq.-ft. Seawater Spa has been completely redesigned, and has a massive, ocean-fed saltwater pool, coed relaxation areas and eucalyptus oil-infused steam rooms. Newly designed treatment rooms with indoor/outdoor space also offer chromotherapy, hydrotherapy and full-body treatments. But its very finest water feature? The 2,000-foot stretch of pristine sand, reserved for the use of guests.
Sun Gardens Dubrovnik SPA – Croatia
Situated on the spectacular coastline of Dubrovnik in Croatia, this highly acclaimed spa offers an array of more than 30 natural therapeutic treatments from thermal rituals to relaxing massages. The thalassotherapy bath, located within an authentic hammam (Turkish bath), features 252 invigorating power jets to relieve muscle tension and help you relax and unwind. After your treatments, you can take a dip in a lagoon pool overlooking the mesmerizing Adriatic Sea.
Vilalara Longevity Thalassa & Medical Spa – Portugal
Considered by many to be one of the best thalassotherapy centers in the world, this luxe spa resort is situated on the famed Algarve coast in southern Portugal. It was voted the "Most Life-Changing Spa" in the world by the prestigious Tatler Awards. The spa offers a wide range of custom thalassotherapy programs, including weight loss and rebalancing treatments. It even has a special anti-smoking regime, involving acupuncture and homeopathic treatments to facilitate nicotine detox. When you’re not getting a treatment, you can float in one of its four outdoor saltwater swimming pools with panoramic views of the sparkling Atlantic Ocean.
Royal Myconian Thalasso Spa – Greece
Located in Mykonos, this ultra-luxurious spa is perched above Elia, the island’s longest fine-sand beach. It offers a wide range of thalassotherapy treatments utilizing the curative effects of mineral-enriched seawater. Sessions take you through four different pools, each with a different temperature and salinity content. Opt for the Elemis Jet Lag Mineral Body Energizing Massage for deep relaxation and removal of toxins. Experience a soothing array of rejuvenating therapies, all in one of the world’s most vibrant destinations.
Le Spa at Grand-Hôtel Du Cap-Ferrat - France
Ready to head to the French Riviera? We know just the spot. This majestic hotel and spa on exclusive Cap-Ferrat, between Nice and Monaco, dates from 1908 and is the epitome of timeless elegance and iconic glamor. It offers a rich array of thalassotherapy treatments, and you can begin or end each one with a therapeutic session on its hydrotherapy circuit. Work your way through men’s and women’s private steam rooms and saunas, a sensorial shower, a whirlpool bath and an ice fountain. Then head outside to the famed Club Dauphin saltwater pool, perched above the rocky Mediterranean coastline. As you unwind in one of the resort’s Jacuzzis, soaking up views of the Côte d'Azur, you’ll discover a whole new definition for jet set.
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