VARBERGS KUSTHOTELL

WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY: AM

“Salt is born of the purest parents: the sun and the sea.” - Pythagoras

The gentle sound of the waves, shining sun and a slight summer warm sea breeze greeted us as we arrived early at Varbergs Kusthotell to enjoy our very own thalassotherapy spa day - the Greek word "thalassa" means the sea - a therapy form that takes particular advantage of the sea's beneficial and health inducing properties. Walking into this beautiful structure with its thick solid walls, copper clad roof and early 20th Century architecture is spiritually stimulating, a warmth permeates throughout, a balanced harmony in tune with the surroundings - only 52 steps from the water's edge. Rooms filled with character, from plush velvet sofas in front of the fireplace to the wonderful dining room - a unique feeling cloaked in history that is virtually impossible to recreate with a new build.

This hotel - in a cove on Sweden's west coast - has a long history as a place of wellbeing, being the original location of the sanatorium set up by local physician Johan Severin Almer, who was convinced that the marine climate was beneficial for tuberculosis sufferers. The sanatorium was positioned in order that the patients could still reap the benefits of their surrounding environment even throughout the winter months, when the harsh winds blow over the Kattegat. Today it is the location of Sweden's one and only true thalassotherapy spa and an elegant coastal hotel, with charming staff who are willing to go that extra mile for their guests.

The staff at this health resort are proud to be continuing the tradition laid down by Almer, through his firm conviction that sun, fresh air, salt bathing and nutritious food had a major impact on health. This healing view is still continued today, it is a nice legacy which they are proud of and a story they wish to continue. Their aim is to create a synergy between their guests and the elements surrounding them and this is done through the sea, with the salt water as the continuous them - from the water in the indoor pools, to the seaweed in their baths, to the salt scrub in the sauna, creating therefore a harmony and synergy to the experiences as a whole. At the hotel, they are aware that we all disconnect and wind down in different ways and therefore there are a variety of options on offer for their visitors. Some relax to the thunder of the rolling waves of the ocean, others choose a long lunch in the bistro and some love to enjoy hot baths. Here you are free to do as much or as little as you wish, but rest assured no matter which you choose everyone leaves with a slightly greater sense of well-being in both body and mind.

Being personally rather partial to spa experiences we opted for the whole day thalasso experience. Starting in the reception we collected our Blossfeldt inspired bags filled with towels, flip flops, bath robes, instructions and elegant bags filled with products from PHYTOMER - a passionate family business with its roots in the Brittany region of France, this company is dedicated to creating high-quality products from the sea, the skin care of tomorrow, whilst also preserving the environment, these trailblazers in marine biotechnology use rational harvesting, sustainable cultivation, true pioneers in marine cosmetics - the perfect choice of partner for Kusthotellet making their thalassotherapy spa a world class experience and a truly whole concept spa.

We started off swimming leisurely in the 32°c saltwater pool, delighting in its saltiness, the Sensory Sky shower experience was next with its temperature, light and scent display following seasonal themes - there may have been some squeals of delight - then we went into the sauna and warm pool area complete with cold plunge pool, contrast bathing if you like, whilst relaxing all the way. Next was a foot scrub and soak using our special goodies, then we donned our bathrobes and headed along those 52 steps to the cold bath house where we took part in a whole new sauna experience for us, the charming Ann-Sofi, who greeted us and then once everyone had arrived  dramatically heated up the sauna simply by waving a towel, so simple yet so effective. We then scrubbed ourselves in an aromatic sea salt scrub with mint and then hopped into the sea. Exaltations and salutations, with more squeals of delight. After which we retired to the light and sun balcony at the back of the main building which allows those that lie there to fully benefit from the sea air, a balanced experience for your senses with loved ones - with beds this comfortable it was no surprise that we nodded off, its tiring being by the sea.

In the words of their staff "here you can enjoy the sea both indoors and outdoors all year around", words that ring very true. Included in the day spa are three experiences in the sauna by the sea or cold bath house to use its real name (kallbadhuset), salt in the morning, aroma at lunchtime and seaweed in the evening all followed by a dip in the sea, which is truly exhilarating and an absolute must. Should you wish to extend the relaxation one of their therapists will be only too happy to come up with a tailored solution, to match your needs and requirements. Failing that you could always sink down in the wooden bath, filled with local seaweed collected by Bosse, a local seaweed harvester and Osteopath who supplies businesses along the west coast with mineral rich seaweed for different products and uses. We chose instead to buy some dried seaweed and PHYTOMER salt and recreate some of our experiences at home and also as a way to appease our girls who did not come with us this time around.

This will of course not be our only visit to this delightful spa and hotel - needless to say we shall be enjoying their holistic approach and unique synergy on many more occasions to come, bringing new ways of relaxing and renewed energy to this family.

AUGUST 2017