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Abano — a spa with a difference

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Abano Grand Hotel BARBARA KINGSTONE PHOTO

The thermal waters of Abano, Italy, a small town with a population of 20,000 on the eastern low green hills of Euganei, have made this one of the largest spa towns in Europe and is even possibly the largest spa town in the world.

The Borile family-owned five GB Group Hotels which includes the 5-star Grand Hotel and Anti-Aging Thermal Spa, where I stayed last November, has quite a range  in accommodations, pricing and beyond all, insightful, innovative treatments along with the tried and true session that are expected.

Although this 180-room hotel was built in 1998, it could easily be mistaken for a hotel from 1898, as the decor is styled in traditional European manner. From the grand entrance with carved pillars and the grand Murano glass chandeliers which shimmer on the spotless, inlaid marble flooring covered with oriental  area rugs, to the plethora of  genuine antique furniture and accessories which the owners have collected over the years.

Abano Grand Hotel BARBARA KINGSTONE PHOTO
Abano Grand Hotel BARBARA KINGSTONE PHOTO

There are differences in spa philosophies between Europe and North America, but they are getting closer to each other all the time. European spas have always placed emphasis on wellness with on-site doctors who examine  and then present the personal various programs, while North American spas are prepared to pamper their guests.

Having tried both sides of the narrowing coin, I have come to respect and want less soft, feathery  stroking, oil massages. I have taken a liking for mud  Fango treatments.  In fact, the first time I had one was in Israel where I was  heavily layered with treated sterile Dead Sea mud, then wrapped in plastic and covered with a blanket.  I felt like a sushi roll.

While making plans, I let them know that I wanted to try as many  treatments as possible each day. The concentration on wellbeing, re-balancing, diet, reducing skin and cellular aging and anti-stress programs, fascinated my non-existent Zen-zone. The skeptic in me was on full alert. However, these finely trained, experienced technicians certainly knew their stuff and I quickly changed my attitude for this wholesome lifestyle.    

Recently, Venezia Spa and Aqua Water Centre, was added as an expansion of the Anti-Aging Thermal Spa, and the  decor is the antithesis of the hotel. Here ecru-covered pillows are placed on the dark sleek rattan chaise lounges and a central island garden surrounded by a glass floor looks down on one of the four thermal pools.

Now that I’ve been to Abano and had many of their treatments over a span of five days, I am in love with that heavy dark, hot, thermal mud, which is enriched with minerals,thermal water and algae, then placed in the areas that had been noted to Dr. Maurizio Grassetto,who interviewed me before treatments began.

Shortly after my meeting, his assessment was given to the technician who arranged the preparations.  Acting on the various painful areas, this anti-aging treatment  really had deep reaching effects and as an added bonus, I was told it also strengthens the skin and improves circulation.

Abano Grand Hotel BARBARA KINGSTONE PHOTO
Abano Grand Hotel BARBARA KINGSTONE PHOTO

Ah, food,  It’s always such an effort to decide to diet or to dine. The selection in Pietro d’Abano Restaurant, with fine  white linens, china dishes and silver flatware, went well with  the white and gold, pillared, ornate dining room. There were  three buffet tables filled with delectable looking hors d’oeuvres. No question, it was a hardship to walk past but I used all my discipline  to stay with my menu. Afterwards, the waiters, handed  the menus for the sit-down dinner segment to the guests. Their repast included  a variety of great Italian food and wine of the area. My menu was much reduced leaving out all starches and sweets and keeping the main courses to a reasonable size.

Feeling quite sprite, one evening I took a very energetic walk through the small but lovely pedestrian shopping area with large sculptures by  local artists and a huge fountain.

Being somewhat directionally handicapped, I got lost, (but I get lost in a shoe box) and a woman, older than myself, walked me to the street entrance. I couldn’t keep up with her.  There’s something that the air, water and ambience in Abano and the spa that makes one energetic. Abano Grand Hotel and Thermal Spa will remain unforgettable.