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Taking the Waters – Where Holidays Spell Health

Czechoslavakia has 37 spas visited by about 300,000 people a year, of whom more than 10 per cent come from outside the country. CEDOK (the Czechoslovakian tourist organization) at 17/18 Old Bond Street, London W1X 4RB – 01-629 6058 for independent travelers and general inquiries, 01-491 2666 for package bookings – has detailed information on individual spas.

Marianske Lazne, the country’s second largest spa after karlovy Vary, specializes in the treatment of ‘painful vertebral syndrome, obesity, gout, diseases of the respiratory tract, urinary tract and kidneys’ using carbonic, alkaline, saline and ferrous waters, and mineral gas. Allow about Pounds 40 a night for full board and treatments, Pounds 135 for a return APEX flight with British Airways (01-897 4000) or Czechoslovak Airlines. Taxi transfers from Prague to the spa are expensive at Pounds 74.50 each way but there are buses. Cedok’s tour operating arm offers packaged holidays at three spas, Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), Jachymov, andd Plestany. Prices for 14 days (the minimum), inclusive of flights, accommodation in a ‘first class sanatorium’, full board, medical examination and all treatments and medicines prescribed, is from Pounds 789. The price drops by Pounds 100 for escorts not taking the waters, and rises Pounds 109 for single room supplements.

The Austrians are less coy than their neighbors in describing therapies – ‘bog baths and local treatment with curative bog’ says one entry for numerous resorts will tell tale names like Alpenmoorbad, and Moorbad St. Felix. Their English language brochure Nature the Healer pictures patient/holidaymakers of a certain age and girth, too regular teeth and lots of laugh lines.

The Austrian National Tourist Office, 30 St. George Street, London W1R 9FA. (01-692 0461) offers information. In Austria treatment, sports facilities and accommodation are separately priced. Rooms in private houses and treatments booked separately in the big spa hotels offer opportunities for cutting costs.

The list of French spas reads like a tasting for bottled waters – Vichy, Vittel, Evian, and their literature is peopled with the youthful models the mineral water people use to advertise their wares – lissom girls who are plainly too perfect to need the mudpacks. French spas, of which there are more than 100 scattered all over the country, include Brides-les-Bains (echoes of those notorious murders which scandalized Victorian England). They are less brazen in their theraputic claims than those of other European countries.

The French Government Tourist Office, 178 Piccadilly, London W1 (01-491 7622) has a variety of useful literature including a pamphlet France Pays de la Sante which lists the treatments offered by all the spas. Beauty and stress treatments are popular and some of the resorts will sell forfaits for treatments on the ski-pass and sports package principle.

As an example, a two star hotel in Vichy charges from Pounds 880 for a 10 day stay on half board with three individual treatments a day, resort transport, and access to sports facilities.

Italian spas outnumber the French by at least two to one, and include another name of mineral water fame, San Pellegrino. Their powers and attractions are generously covered in Atlante delle Terme Italiane from the Italian State Tourist Office, 1 Princes Street, London W1R 8AY (01-408 1254). Treatments are sold separately and also on season tickets and are in addition to accommodation.

Germany has a whole alphabet of spas from Bad Abbach to Bad Zwischenahn, and the German National Tourist office, 61 Conduit Street, London W1. (01-734 2600) has information of many of them. Treatments are individually priced and not generally packaged with accommodation. Typical treatment prices at Bad Reichenhall start with inhalations from Pounds 1.50, rising to Pounds 10 per day.

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