A Spa! Really?
There is some confusion surrounding the real meaning of the word ‘spa’ and what to expect. Blue River Costa Rica Resort & Hot Springs’s always boasts about its special natural mineral Costa Rica hot springs. Separately, there is also a Spa. What’s the difference between a Costa Rica spa and a Costa Rica hot springs? We wish to ‘clear the water’ by defining the word, “Spa” and to introduce the 10 best countries for Spas in the world. Lets begin with the meaning of ’spa’ and its association with ‘hot springs.’
Definition of “Spa”
Per the Oxford Dictionary, one definition of “spa” is:
A mineral spring considered to have health-giving properties:
1.1 A place or resort with a mineral spring.
1.2 A commercial establishment offering health and beauty treatment through such means as steam baths, exercise equipment, and massage.
The original definition of the word (in 1.1) refers to the importance of the place where mineral rich waters (hot springs) exit from the ground. Today the name is also in use to define an ‘establishment’ (in 1.2); a place providing, physical and beautification treatments.
At some point, the two definitions blended into what has become a gross misrepresentation of its original meaning.
A ‘spa’ has always been a location; the place where mineral rich hot water flows to the earth’s surface; today, the liquid is identified or defined by the term, ‘hot springs’.
Unfortunately, most of us don’t live anywhere near a true hot spring or spa. In most developed cities, the frequently advertised, commercial ‘spas,’ have little similarity to the real thing. These ‘drug store’ spas have none of the attributes, used to refer to the location of a hot spring that made hot springs and their settings legendary.
Inside the ‘city’ versions you can expect to see a steamy room, with beautiful, sweaty, healthy bodies, lying on massage tables; or some soaking in a stainless-steel pool, filled with warm, re-circulating tap-water.
Real spas have always delivered healing and comfort to the injured, wounded, or aching bodies soaking in the waters of their natural mineral ‘hot springs’; these clienteles seek relief or a cure.
The magic elixir are the natural hot and so, do offer genuine healing to many bathers. Therefore, what we must look to are the words ‘hot springs’ to get the real thing. And unfortunately, even then, there are caveats.
Hot Springs – The Indisputable Factors
Three important elements involved in genuine hot springs (aka natural mineral hot springs) are:
• mineral infused – Where the minerals are combined under pressure and diluted in water.
• natural – All organic elements, pure and originating underground.
• thermal – Heated by the heat generated from the earth’s mantle.
This description has never been in debate. Wherever a spa has been discovered, these three factors were required to provide the healing and comfort from a spa.
Nothing New About Spas
Every year millions of people enjoy what we casually referred to as a “spa”. However, only a few of them enjoy the real thing because the healing benefits of a genuine ‘hot spring’ is absent from most.
Most spas offer a soothing hot bath; produced in a pool of hot water with no other real health benefits. However, that hot bath is not a new phenomenon; the Romans were the earliest civilization participating in regular hot baths in 460 BC.
The Romans enjoyed the pampering of a masseuse (a slave in those days), and sweating away in a steam filled room; the steam coming from a wood fire beneath a cauldron. The hot bath was a cleansing and relaxing substitute for a spa. If you had a health issue you required a good spa then as you do today.
Spas have a decade’s old documented history of providing users with the benefits that we are talking about. There are still some excellent spas on our list (below) that remain from those ancient civilizations.
If you cannot ‘do-better’ then go ahead and enjoy the commercial beauty spa, but never pass up an opportunity to soak in a real ‘hot spring’. Only Mother Nature can make the real thing.
What is a Hot Spring?
The water flowing in a hot spring is produced deep underground and the final product is delivered to the surface at a scalding 212⁰ F (100⁰ C) or hotter in some cases. That heat is generated by volcanic activity fueled from the earth’s mantle.
Rain falls and becomes ‘ground water’ as it seeps from the earth’s crust to deep underground. The water travels down 3,000 to 5,000 meters (10,000 feet to 16,000 feet) beneath the crust towards the earth’s core. Along the way, it dissolves many minerals.
The liquid mixture is then superheated under tremendous pressure; most of it turning to steam and starting the process back towards the surface. Then traveling through fissures, or cracks, above the earth’s tectonic plates, it returns to the surface and exits as a ‘hot spring’. Fortunately, it loses most of its heat along but it does retain a peculiar odor. This noticeable smell of spa water comes from its high sulphur content.
Hot springs offer curative benefits to bathers and sometimes to those drinking the water. Caution! Not all spa water is fit for drinking.
Great spa water is only found near volcanic activity. Find the volcano and these spa elements will be nearby- hot springs and volcanic mud’.
10 Best Countries for Natural Spas in the World
Here are the Countries with the 10 Best Spas, in the world today. As to be expected all are near the Pacific Ring of Fire, a fault line beneath the earth’s crust. They are all natural and they are all considered the best.
Nature has bestowed Costa Rica with over 200 volcanic formations, mineral pools, mud baths and hot mineral springs. Just north of the active, smoking Rincon de la Vieja Volcano crater is Blue River Resort and Hot Springs where some of Costa Rica’s natural treasures are hidden.
The Czech Republic offers many therapeutic thermal baths and over 30 spa resorts.
Along the famous Rocky Mountain range, the hot springs, in Banff, Alberta, are one of nine natural occuring hot springs along Sulphur Mountain. Though Canada is a a very large country with many great hot springs, Banff Hot Springs Reserve was the first of Canada’s National Parks.
Near Hungary’s capital city, Lake Heviz is Europe’s largest thermal lake.
Thermae Bath Spa, is Britain’s only natural thermal spring. Celts and Romans have enjoyed these waters.
The Blue Lagoon, Grindavik, is the most famous of the over 800 thermal springs, rich in therapeutic minerals.
The Island throbs with volcanic activity. Hot Springs provide the waters for pools flowing at the Ryokans (Japanese Inns).
‘Whakarewarewa’ is a famous Maori cultural experience. Famous for its geysers, hot springs, and mud pools.
Though there are many that are well known, Calistoga Hot Springs, California is well known for its mud baths as well as the hot spring in Napa Valley.
Turkey sits on a geothermal fault. Here the famed Pamukkale, Islamic natural steam baths, or Hamam’s are located everywhere.
Benefits of a Good Spa
The waters of the hot springs cleanse, heal, and relax the body. It heals skin problems, relieves chronic pains in joints and muscles, and cleanses the skin. Another enjoyable benefit is its ability to reduce stress as it warms and relaxes the body. The minerals in the water are absorbed through the skin and are known to heal muscles, joints, and internal organs of the body.
Finding the Best Spa
Remember, ‘No volcano! No spa!’
In Costa Rica, volcanic formations are many and this is what the hot springs at Blue River Resort and Hot Springs is so very special. The hot spring located at the Resort is produced by the activity under the Rincon de la Vieja volcano and bubbles up to the surface infused with special minerals a tinted green. Rio Azul gets its name from the color of the mineral rich water flowing in the river.
The volcano’s crater sits atop the clouds a few short miles away from Blue River Resort & Hot Springs. The natural hot springsfeed the Resort’s five natural hot spring pools. Close to the hot spring source is the natural sauna, which is beside the Mud Pit, and therapy Spa. In the spa, trained hands will deliver professional spa-treatments for the weary body. The Resort’s hot springwater is the most natural, mineral rich water in this hemisphere. Temperatures in the hot spring pools are regulated by mixing them with hot spring and cold spring water. This water is 100% genuine and kept below 105 F. The same volcanic thermal currents provide heating for the natural sauna.
Try the recommended treatments:
- Enjoy a warm, slithery mud bath; then relax as the mud dries and exfoliates the skin.
- After it has dried and cooled, rinse in the Blue River’s warm waters.
- Head for the sauna. There the steam will open the pores and release the toxins.
- Now you can lower the body’s temperature in the cool spring pool
- Enjoy a swim and the Bullet Water Slide before taking a relaxing walk through the Resort’s gardens.
- After enjoy a tropical cocktail and watch the sun go down.
Guests staying at the Blue River Resort and Hot Springs are welcome to enjoy the benefits of the Blue River and its hot spring pools, Mud Bath, and Sauna at no extra cost. Guests visiting on a ‘1-Day Tour’ also have the use of these facilities, including change rooms and lockers.