Costa Brava Spa Surprise
Costa Brava Spa Surprise - a beautiful family day spa
Our car pointed south for our Touissant (Fall) vacation towards the Costa Brava beach resort of St. Felieu de Guixols and Barcelona. Our attempt was to have a bit of repose time at a spa as well as see the sites, but of course the challenge with spas is to find one that allows and invites children. Voila!!! We found it and we highly recommend it; the Magma Thermal Leisure Center in Catalonia, 20km south of Girona. Situated at the base of a major hiking area lies a long two story building, sleek in architecture both inside and out and immaculately clean and pristine. Opened in 2002, the thermal leisure area’s grand space is massive with it’s two story glass windows overlooking a grassy meadow, chestnut, oak and occasional beech trees, and the Guilleries mountains . Visiting the thermal waters provides a relaxing and playful break from hustle and bustle of Barcelona and has something for everyone from infants to seniors. The leisure center, 870 square meters of thermal water surface and 45,000 square meters of garden, includes a central spa with a temperature of 36◦ C with a counter current river, pressurized water cascades, hydromassage benches, bubble basin and hydromassage beds all layed out in a spiral-like pool 1.5 meters deep. Set above the central spa are two hydromassage jacuzzis for 8 people with a temperature of 35◦ C. Set below is a toddler’s playground set in a pool 5 meters wide and 30 cm deep as well as a four lane 25 meter swimming pool at 28◦ C.
For the evenly temperate climate a water passage leads outside to a large cold water outdoor swimming pool and warm water spa with jet sprays and mushroom cascades.
If this isn’t enough anyone over 16 can enjoy the 20 person steam baths, Finnish sauna, eucalyptus steam room, contrasting showers, ice pit and heated bed rest area.
While Jean was downstairs swimming with Zoe-Pascale, I meandered to the upper floor where the Magma Spa club is located and indulged in a hot stone massage day one andan anti-wrinkle facial the following day. Manicures, pedicures, peels, hair removals, and an assortment of massages are all available at reasonable spa prices. An hour later Jean enjoyed the benefits of a massage and a men's special facial. Meanwhile Zoe-Pascale was turning into fish swimming the river, tickling herself on the hydromassage benches and bouncing from one cascade to another.
A small snack bar is available as well as a lunch buffet restaurant serving Catalonian specialties for 18 Euro, 1 to 4pm or dinner buffet Friday-Sunday from 8:30-10:30. The key however is to book your entry into the spa before or after lunch as swimsuits are not permitted in the restaurant.
At first glance reading the regulations of the spa and following the strict orders of the locker room attendant makes you feel like a school child. However, once you are inside you realize how their strict discipline of no shoes, calm voices, no eating or drinking, and entry showers keeps the place looking like it was built yesterday. Upon entering the reception area you are given an electronic bracelet which accounts for your time spent and is magnetized to open and close your locker. The Magma spa limits the number of people to enter so it never seems crowded and charges for a three hour block of time (not including spa services) at 27 Euro in high season. Each hour after is an additional 24 Euro, dissuading people from staying longer.
Passing through an electronic turnstile you enter the changing rooms and secure a narrow private book with two doors; one to go in and one to go out of. Slipping into our bathing suits we giggle at the sanitized method they have created for entering the spa. Immediately upon exiting our booth we enter into the locker and shower room lined with double story orange lockers, sinks, open showers and private toilet stalls. Promptly an attendant dressed in nursing whites greets you, reminds you if you have flip-flops on that no shoes are allowed, shows you which locker to use and how to use the magnetic bracelet to ensure it is secure. Returning to her squeeging of the already pristine floor she points us to the glass enclosed entry shower leading to the central spa area. Never quite having understood the logic of having to shower before you enter a pool, we place our rented bath towels on the dry shelf and run through the showers barely getting our shoulders wet.
Immersing ourselves in the thermal water we soak into oblivion listening to a variety of music from Italian Opera to easy listening piped in through the state of the art sound system. Like little penguins we move in a pack trying out the hydromassage benches, the water cascades and the wave like jacuzzi. Every fifteen minutes the cascades stop and a part of the huge basin turns into a flowing river in which you turn over on your back and float away your worries. As twilight appears in the sky, the spa’s mood lightening in the pools creates an effect of floating in space, soothing the soul even more.
After a swim in the lap pool take a tour of the hamman (dry steam), wet steam, and assorted showers, we wrapped ourselves in a towel and lounged on the swing chairs facing the gardens and mountains in the distance. A perfect time to immerse ourselves in a good book and periodically close our eyes and feel the winter sun shine through the glass windows warming our faces. What a better place to be than inside a modern spa on a fall day in Catalonia.
Prices and Reservations;
Book a spa or beauty treatment and buffet lunch or dinner by calling Magma Booking line at +34 972843535 and also ask for entry to the Thermal Spa area. Rates run from 24 Euro in low season to 27 Euro in high season for a 3 hour pass, Children and seniors are slightly lower at 19.20 Euro. Special rates and multiple entry and season passes can also be purchased. Reservations are recommended because of its limited capacity. Bookings for the Thermal Leisure Area only can be made via the ServiCaixa system, +34 903 33 22 11 or a travel agency. Magma is open all year from 11 am to 10pm during the week and 11pm on weekends, but closed on Tuesdays and other designated closing days throughout the year. Check the website at www.magma-cat.com for details.
Across the road from the Magma Thermal Spa is the Balneari Termes Orion Hotel and Restaurant, and is the source of the thermal waters. A prestigious establishment of 70 rooms with updated facilities set in a historical building surrounded by natural woods and gardens is a perfect choice for a peaceful stay. This Hotel offers an extensive program of personalized thermal cures under medical supervision. This hotel also has a small spa and pools and access is provided to the Magma Spa at a discount.