The Art of Rest at Poland’s SPA Nałęczów
I recently got the chance to visit Poland with my mom, dad and brother for the first time in 20 years since we migrated to the U.S. I knew it would be an emotionally intense trip, so I liked my boss’s idea to visit a spa during my time off. It felt like just the thing to do with my mom and brother who share my interest in wellbeing, and it would be a nice two-night breather from the otherwise bustling family activities.
So let me set the scene for you. Nałęczów is a small town in the southeast region of Poland known for its authentic healing properties. The four natural springs (each of which has medically identified health benefits) and the lowered air pressure in the valley where it is located, all contribute to the health benefits. The town’s landscape combines natural woodlands and meadows with historic architecture and modern spa facilities, plus a meandering river that seems to weave through the contrast without any effort.
What really stands out for me is how the whole town revolves around the spa experience. Unlike specific spa resorts where you might remain in a gated property separate from its surroundings, here all of Nałęczów exists to offer healing benefits. Visitors may stay at the main Palace hotel, private bed and breakfast villas or government-owned healing sanatoriums. No matter where you stay, you can utilize the main spa park in the center of town and common facilities such as a spring water bar or a main spa complex with state-of-the-art facilities and à la carte spa treatments. Visitors are welcome for short visits, as well as lengthy stays to help them recuperate from certain health conditions. Most notably, patients are referred here by their doctors after heart operations because the lower air pressure allows their heart to rest and not work so hard. Such medical visits are completely covered by health insurance, and every citizen of Poland can enjoy this benefit (material for Michael Moore’s Sicko film, for sure!)
So the three of us arrived at Willa Raj (“Paradise Villa”) with three distinct sets of expectations and health concerns we hoped would be addressed by the spa experience.
- My brother has never visited a spa, and generally was not sure what to expect, so his goal was simply to check things out. He was willing to go along with whatever I suggested as far as relaxation modalities go, in order to hopefully address some of his stress-related ailments. (Think young doctor, just starting out at his practice, whose wife just gave birth to their third baby – a.k.a. sleep deprived!)
- My mom is a relatively seasoned spa-goer who, in her golden years, is reveling in the benefits of the medical spa field to look and feel more youthful.
- I have also been to a few spas and was looking forward to benefiting from the detoxification properties of the healing waters and treatments to help myself refresh after the winter.
The first evening we hit the spa complex for a swim in its amazing pool. It is filled with mineral water from the spring called “Love,” which is medically identified to support digestive health and detoxification. Throughout the pool, you can find pressure-jet stations to massage different parts of your body. Swimming from one to the next you can enjoy a complete body massage in the water.
There is also a lap swimming area and, my favorite, a river with a current that you can either swim with for a fun ride, or against for a challenging exercise. Every so often we’d come out of the water and hit the steam room or hot tub for some of that hold-cold healing action we’ve seen on TV. And finally, we finished off the experience with a soak in the clay pool. Imagine an oversized Jacuzzi filled with warm white clay from Greece. What was it like? The best words I can use are “like being back in the womb.” It was comfortable and totally relaxing, not to mention the detoxifying effects that just completely left us ready for bed.
Our villa offered lovely accommodations, great breakfasts and medical spa treatments that were really up my mom’s alley. The next morning she enjoyed a few treatments that really made her feel and look amazing. My brother and I, on the other hand, took relaxing poultice massage services and detoxifying hydrotherapy baths at the main spa complex again. Afterwards we went for a walk around the park and drank some of the mineral water. Then we met up with mom for lunch, and I started to notice a remarkable difference in all of us. My mom was distinctly glowing, and my brother, also bright faced, was savoring a full Polish dinner (think big plate!), which was remarkable considering that just a day before his stressed stomach didn’t permit him to enjoy one meal during our family’s large gathering. I, on the other hand, started to feel like I needed to rest. Wanting to listen to my body, I headed for our room and took a nap. But I have to say, it felt more like a coma! I literally didn’t want to move. My body seemed to go into really intense detox and just said, “REST!” I think the treatments, along with the water and lower pressure, put me in just the mood, so when I woke up the next morning I simply felt like a new person! This experience really helped me understand that healing begins with rest, and that this town perfects it into an art with just the right combination of climate and facilities.
For more details and some interesting history about SPA Nałęczów, visit: