While human culture may thrive on the newest scientific and technological developments to make life simpler, faster-paced, or more efficient, sometimes all of it serves just make one more anxious. Despite this extreme difference in lifestyle compared to our ancestors two thousand years ago, or even two hundred, we share remarkably similar physiological and psychological reactions to stress, overindulgence, and overstimulation with our forebears. What also hasn’t changed is how we deal with it. A trip to a mineral bath or spa was always recommended as a cure-all for many ailments. Today, you can travel far and wide and find a place to get a spa treatment: From an Aberdeen city centre hotel to an Almerian guest house, treatments for soothing the body as well as the soul abound.
The curative and restorative power of mineral baths has been relied upon for millennia. Beyond that, attending baths, such as in ancient Rome, where darkened and warmed stone bath houses filled with steam and warm water were a sociable and acceptable method of bathing for hygiene, baths were also part of keeping the social order. Certain places however were found to have natural springs where the water was heavy with minerals and perhaps even warm when emerging from the ground; these spas were special and were imbued with significance. The word ‘spa’ itself comes from a shortening of the name of Aquae Spadanae, the original Roman Latin name of town built around naturally occurring springs in Belgium and adopted as the English phrase for the bath in the late 16th century.
Spas nowadays offer a full menu of specialty treatments that are designed to pamper, distress, and detoxify the body. From mud and seaweed body wraps to hot and cold soaks in pools and various forms of massage, spas are indulgent experiences. In many cases, spas are connected to hotels and are part of the draw of an establishment’s desirability. Spas are everywhere, from a Dunkeld hotel to a Derby resort. They are the best place to renew yourself if under a load of stress, just like our ancestors did.