Pockets of mineral-laden pools, usually near mountains, valleys, craters or volcanic areas, created by geothermal heated groundwater rising from the Earth’s crust, hot springs are always inviting to seekers of wellness. The Taoists believe that hot springs are good for one’s qi (internal energy) and can keep one youthful and glowing. It is also purported that soaking your body in a hot spring brings many health benefits.
Rich in fortifying minerals, hot spring baths have been used to treat various ailments – a method known as balneotherapy – across cultures for thousands of years. They have been prescribed for everything from stress and insomnia to arthritis and psoriasis, but for those who do not suffer from these conditions, hot springs are also wonderful for relaxation and rejuvenation.
Hot springs often contain a variety of minerals such as sodium bicarbonate, lithium, sulfur and calcium. When one bathes in these mineral rich waters, hydrostatic pressure rises – this is a process that can be likened to what happens when exercising or using a sauna – and your blood circulation and oxygen flow increases. This benefits the heart, vital organs and tissues.
Immersion in hot spring water can also reduce stress, as the minerals and warm temperature help to relax tense muscles. Sufferers of chronic muscle aches or fibromyalgia have reported feeling some relief with regular hot spring dips, while the high silica or sulfur content and other medicinal properties of hot spring water have been known ease the discomfort of skin conditions like psoriasis, dry skin or eczema.
Hot springs resorts are found around the world. Here in Asia are some that come with the most luxurious and comfy accommodation and amenities.
Sheraton Huzhou Hot spring Resort, Huzhou, China
No. 5858 Taihu Road, Huzhou, Zhejiang, China; 86 572 2299 999
Sitting on the southern banks of Huzhou’s famous Taihu Lake in China’s Zhejiang Province is the Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort. It is the first in a series of Sheraton resorts that are part of Sheraton’s Mystic Spa and Hot Spring Village – one of the largest hot spring complexes in Greater China, it has 101 individual hot spring pools and Jacuzzis across a vast 20,000 sqm.
At the heart of the Mystic Spa is a large glass dome pool with 26 hot spring pools overlooking the resort’s private lake, as well as a hot spring waterfall. Besides the main pool, the Mystic Spa has other hot spring pools located on different maze-like levels, such as the red wine pool where guests can soak up the antioxidant properties of wine. Surrounding the outdoor pools are eight freestanding private spa treatment chalets where guests can unwind with a massage. Also in the Mystic Spa building are treatment rooms for reflexology, as well as a restaurant serving health food.
The Mystic Spa uses products from exclusive Shanghai skincare brand Ba Yan Ka La, which are crafted from ingredients like glacial mineral water and traditional Chinese medicinal herbs such as Chinese mulberry for detoxification, liquorice for balancing, goji berry for strengthening, lotus seed for nourishment and Tibetan roseroot as an anti-oxidant.
The resort’s main building, where the guest rooms and villas are housed, looks like a dazzling diamond studded horseshoe towering above the waters of the lake, and it’s already become a Huzhou landmark. Well-known Chinese architect Ma Yansong who designed the building says that it was inspired by the traditional bridges seen in old Chinese paintings. “Throughout China’s history, people have always pursued a harmonious relationship with nature and this has become a major part of Chinese culture and tradition,” says Ma. “Huzhou itself is a place famous for traditional ink paintings and splendid water views, and the arch bridge is one of the key elements of traditional architecture,” he adds.
The 27-storey main building houses 282 guest rooms and 39 villas, and guests can access to the Mystic Spa dome from this main building through underground passageways. Rooms come with modern amenities such as LCD flat screen TVs, iPod docking stations, Sheraton Sweet Sleeper beds, marble bathrooms with a sunken bathtub and walk-in rainforest shower, and high-speed Internet. The hotel’s Shine Spa, which comes with a steam room, saunas and a hydrotherapy pool in each individual locker room, offers an array of relaxing or invigorating spa treatments too. When it comes to dining, guests are spoiled for choice with five F&B outlets including a western lobster restaurant and a kaiseki and hot pot restaurant.