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Iceland Spas

The Invitationiceland spas: geo-thermal gourmet bathing

Steaming with pristine geothermal pools in snowy landscapes under azure blue skies, Iceland is arguably the only country on earth that qualifies as one giant spa. Where else in the world can you relax year-round in natural geothermal lagoons surrounded by lava fields and black sandy beaches watching marine birds winging their way out to sea? For the gourmet spa bather, Iceland is especially enchanting given that it’s situated in the empire of the midnight sun. The country’s extreme northern location means that it’s possible to bask in the geothermal lagoons from 9 a.m. until midnight. This is a privileged experience for anyone, but for spa addicts, Iceland is Nirvana.

While the country is a year-round spa destination, those wanting to bask in Iceland’s spectacular late night sunshine must schedule visits for August and September. With a land mass about the size of Ohio, of which one quarter is blanketed by glaciers, Iceland is the ideal landscape for contemplation, as it is also sparsely settled. Fittingly, the country was settled by a band of hardy Celtic monks in 980 A.D.

A trip to the giant outdoor Blue Lagoon and indoor spa complex near Reykjavik is an alchemical spa experience and nature meditation rolled into one. The huge geothermal lagoon here is considered by geologists to be one of the greatest natural wonders of Northern Europe. Boasting one of the most majestic views on planet earth, the lagoon looks out over the lava field and black sand beaches. The luxuriantly soothing water has been proven in European research studies to help remedy dry and chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis.

The lagoon’s blue green algae, mineral content and white silica mud are the main reasons why the water leaves the skin looking better and the body feeling fitter than before soaking. After you leave the lagoon, you can immerse yourself in these healing elements back home, for these form the basis of the Blue Lagoon’s Balance-Geothermal Face Care line and its Spa line of body care products.

The restaurant serves a spa menu and drinks can be brought to you while you relax in the lagoon. You can even have Watsu in the lagoon, and massages, body wraps, facials, etc. take place in the open air or inside the spa. A geothermal-powered waterfall drenches al fresco bathers. Inside the spa, there’s a steam bath in a lava cave, as well as a geothermal steam bath and sauna and various treatment rooms. With dry skin and special psoriasis treatments on offer, essential oil massages, mud body wraps and the like round out the spa menu.

The most organic spa in Iceland happens to be the nature baths at Lake Mývatn, an area of striking beauty where the baths have been designed to commingle gently without upsetting the area’s fragile ecosystem. This romantic and centuries-old spa site features a new complex that offers intensely primeval yet gourmet bathing in warm, soothing water that contains a unique blend of minerals, silicates and geothermal microorganisms.

The adventure begins with a soak in a pool that is filled with steamy white clouds that mysteriously waft their way up from a fissure deep in the Earth. While bathing here, one imagines that the Lake Mytvan experience closely parallels celestial bathing, or what it must be like to take a bath in Heaven!

After this steamy soak, bathers take an epic swim in a large pool of geothermal water drawn from depths of up to 2,500 meters.

Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik, boasts the Laugar Spa, a day spa and fitness center that boasts several different kind of saunas, steam baths and geothermal pools. Diverse yoga and fitness classes are available here, including Rope Yoga, which was invented by Icelandic yogi Gudni Gunnarsson. Laugar offers combination pampering/fitness day packages as well as special packages to help revitalize weary mothers.

Another worthwhile destination in Iceland’s spa scene is the Nordica Hotel and Spa, an elegant refuge designed with Icelandic grace and eco-conscious style. There is a mosaic-tiled wet area where you can lounge on the artiest spa furniture in the Western world: the benches are filled with millions of grey pebbles plucked from local beaches that are encased in Plexiglass. In the flotation pool, geothermally heated water bubbles over lava rocks.

While a varied menu of massages, facials and body work is on offer, The Fire and Ice Massage embodies the contrasts of healing heat and clarifying cold that typify Iceland’s environment. Heated indigenous basalt stones are applied to major and minor muscle groups to prep the body for deep tissue massage. Cold marble discs are used to soften tissue by contracting blood from the muscles. Immerse yourself in a Hot Pot (jacuzzi) and you will get a complimentary cranial massage and Icelandic non-fat yogurt smoothie (skyr) to sip while you soak.

The 80 minute volcano treatment is another superb example of Nordica’s unique Iceland-style spa services. (All of the mud, oil and tea used in this therapy is sourced locally.) At the start of the treatment, you receive a massage application of geo-thermally charged mud. This is excellent for detoxifying and quite cooling, considering that it’s sourced near volcanoes. While you chill out in the volcanic mud wrap, a reflexology massage stimulates your body to detoxify and relax.

Next on the agenda is a quick shower followed by a deep tissue massage using acupressure to invigorate the body. The final flourish is a cup of herbal tea made of Icelandic herbs. This is said to cleanse and help detoxify. After you have regrouped your mind and body, be sure to visit the 8th floor or higher of the Nordica Hotel, for the hotel is dramatically situated and offers panoramic views of the city and majestic beyond.

Regardless of what spas you visit in Iceland, just be sure to try as many natural geothermal pools as you can. It’s a rare privilege to soak in the healing waters of Mother Earth. Bathing in these pristine waters benefits more than the skin and the nervous system: it also feeds the soul.
To obtain information on air travel to Iceland:
www.icelandair.net

For details on the Blue Lagoon and its skin care products:
www.bluelagoon.com

To find out more about Laugar Spa:
www.laugarspa.is

Facts and photos regarding Lake Mývatn can be found at:
www.randburg.com

Click on: www.nordicaspa.is for facts on Nordica Spa.

written by kyle roderick

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