I wrote about the Imperial Hotel in the Czech Republic countryside as a great wellness stay and loved my experience in this awe-inspiring castle-like property in the mountains surrounding Karlovy Vary. Since the hotel has such an expansive spa that specializes in both traditional spa therapy and medical spa treatments, I wanted to cover their philosophy, services and program offerings in more depth. Imperial is known for their health-oriented programs that specialize in digestive and musculoskeletal system and metabolic disorders. On-site, they have a 24 hour nurse, one dietician, seven doctors, six physiotherapists, eight masseurs, and three lifeguards. The hotel provides over 100 medical interventions and procedures in a 1.600 meter area. Spa treatments use local natural medicinal sources, which are supplemented by medical rehabilitation, physical and exercise therapy, health education, diet and wellness programs. And, of course, let’s not forget about the incredible healing thermal waters in the area they will encourage you to drink daily as part of your stay.
One of the most natural medicinal resources in the area is Spring Vřídlo, which gets cooled down to 50 ° C and is available to guests for drinking right on the premises. You can find it on the top floor of the hotel lobby. Since Thermal Spring Water is mainly used for medicinal purposes, they consume an average of 10,500 liters a day, which corresponds to approximately 21% of total daily consumption of mineral water in Karlovy Vary. Other natural resources they use include muds and medicinal gas (carbon dioxide). Welcome to a very different spa experience in the heart of Bohemia and why you should know about the various spa and medical spa properties in the Czech Republic.
Medical specialists at the Imperial include internal medicine, physiotherapy, physical medicine and rehabilitation, neurology, pediatric neurology, surgery, gastroenterology and sonography and they cooperate with external doctors who specialize in cardiology, dermatology, psychiatry, acupuncture, cosmetic surgery, urology, dentistry and ENT.
They say that spa stays once a year for a few weeks is ideal depending on the state of your health. Their belief is that prevention is the most effective method of treatment, so whether you are ill or merely want to keep disease at bay, there’s a program that will likely work for you. I noticed that they have an interesting detoxification program, something I’m a huge supporter of — keeping our bodies alkaline is key to staying healthy. They also believe in the folk wisdom which says:
“Repetition is the mother of wisdom.”
Spa Medical Check and In-Body Examination
As soon as you arrive, you go for spa medical check which starts with an in-take of your medical history with a doctor. At that time, they will check your pulse, blood pressure, breathing rate and lab work, which includes blood count, glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol tests, liver function tests, bilirubin, electrolytes and metabolism, stool, calcitonins, kidney, an EKG, thyroid glands, sonography, gall bladder, prostrate and pancreas checks for men and for women, a check of your uterus and ovaries. You then meet with a nutritional therapist to get a list of dietary recommendations based on your lab work and physical ailments. They also do an IN-BODY measurement of your body fat, which measures different segments using 8-point tactile electrodes. This test can determine what percentage of your total body weight is made up of muscle tissue, proteins, bone tissue, subcutaneous and intracellular water, adipose issue, mineral substances (in bones and elsewhere) and cellular tissue.
What Does a Spa Treatment Consist of?
Medicinal balneology is a medicinal system anchored in tradition, especially in the Czech Republic. The characteristic of baineology therapy is given by the local natural medicinal resources and by how they’re applied. After specialists evaluate your health, they will prescribe a set of procedures for the best impact during your stay. Typically, you would receive around three treatments a day but what you receive and the frequency depends on your condition or if you don’t have an illness, then a series of therapies that best matches what you’re trying to accomplish from your stay. In addition to medical services and activities, you go to the springs three times a day and can complement your time with swimming, walks and cultural activities. Rather than chemical treatments, it’s all about returning to nature. Their belief is that thermal and curative waters can be used for treating many types of diseases and conditions, including gyn and digestive issues, chronic complexion diseases, cardiovascular illnesses, problems with breathing, infertility, kidney illness and nerve exhaustion.
Water therapy is a minimal of course giving the curing properties of the mineral waters in the area. Hot spring gas, which is practically pure carbon dioxide, springs out in mofettes and is applied in two forms: through gas injections (releases the muscle and fibrous spine corset and pelvic girdle after surgeries) and gas gynecologic baths, which are used to speed up the blood circulation. Again, recommendations will depend on the state of your health and how long you plan to stay (one week, two weeks or three weeks, which they say is optimal).
General thermal water baths can help with circulation issues, improving metabolism rates and help with chronic inflammation. They use peloids for wraps and for baths, which help to stimulate the thermoregulatory mechanisms of your body. A treatment of this nature also incorporates something they refer to as Aqua Therapy, reflex and underwater massages and other physical therapy from artificial sources, such as warmth, light, sound, electric therapy and others.
Drinking the healing thermal waters from the various springs in the area is best before food and they say that it’s best to drink slowly and while walking. They also recommend a break of 5-10 minutes between individual cups. Karlovy Vary mineral water for healing come from 12 different springs, which vary in temperature and the amount of gaseous carbon dioxide. The temperature of the water can vary from 30-72 degrees C and because of the different content of carbonic acid, temperature and trace elements, the effect of each spring on your body is very different.
The above shot was taken during our walking tour of Karlovy Vary, of one of the dozen thermal springs in the area, all of which have a different temperature.
The richest source of mineral water is the “Thermal Spring,” which is the oldest spring in the area and it’s temperature is around 72 degrees C. Its discharge from the spring is around two thousand liters per minute and the quality of this mineral water hasn’t changed throughout the centuries. Guests have access to the mineral Thermal Spring in all of the hotels.
Baths & Ultrasound
There is a long list of procedures and therapies that range from hot stone, Butterfly, Shiatsu, and Aromatherapeutic massages to Oxygen therapy, wraps, bubble baths, pilates, ultrasound, whirlpool baths and mineral baths with herbs, seaweed or peat (yes, really). Here’s a description of a few of them to give you an idea of what to expect:
- Mineral Carbonated Bath: its effects are derived from the chemical effects of CO2 on peripheral circulation. It is useful for cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension, chronic heart ischemia and vascular illnesses.
- Mineral Whirlpool Bath: the main effects of this bath is the micro massage of your skin which helps to relax your entire body. With a soothing effect on your entire system, it can help with neurosis and diseases of kinetic apparatus.
- Bath with Peat: this is a hyperthermal procedure which is useful for kinetic apparatus diseases.
- Inhalation: ultrasound is used to create an aerosol which can have a positive impact on the upper and lower breathing tracks.
Our small group of travel writers had a general thermal bubble bath given that none of us had a ‘medical condition,’ and were there merely to experience the spa facilities. Below is a shot of what the facilities for the traditional bubble baths look like — it’s a long hallway with changing rooms on one side, tubs on the other. In the small changing rooms, there’s a massage-like table where you can rest after the bath, wrapped up in towels which they provide.
Photo credit: Imperial Hotel Group.
Alternative Therapies, Hydro Therapy Procedures, Thermal & Massage
Other more unusual treatments they offer include services for your colon, vagina, teeth and gums, not what you’d expect right? For example, they offer a Gums Irrigation procedure which helps heal the gums, a vaginal irrigation treatment which has apparently had positive results on the genitals (prescribed in conjunction with an on-site gynecologist of course), and a Hydrocolon Cleansing, which flushes out the large intestine using mineral water. The procedure is considered beneficial for those with serious constipation and other intestinal diseases.
Hydro therapy procedures include Alternating Water Jets, an Aromatic Bath, which uses extracts from medicinal plants to help stimulate, rejuvenate and relax, a Whirlpool bath, an Alternating Leg Bath which alternates cold and hot impulses on your lower limbs to improve blood circulation among other things and something they refer to as FLOATING, which is a Bath in Dead Sea salts, which is noted to have a vasodilatation effect, helping to stabilize blood pressure. According to their notes, its suitable for psoriasis, eczema, skin inflammations and allergies, psoriatic arthritis, arthritis, spine and neurological degenerative issues, such as sciatica, to help heal wounds and burns.
Massages range from classic and underwater massage to Aroma Therapeutic Massage, Shiatsu and Hot Stone therapy. Additionally, thermal procedures are offered for diseases of your kinetic system, the digestive track, metabolic diseases, urologic and gynecologic and nerve diseases. A few include Parrafin wraps and something they refer to as Cryo Therapy.
Rehabilitation, Reflex, Electric & Physical Therapy
They also have group fitness, pool exercises, Pilates, Nordic walking and water aerobics. Physical therapists are on board to help with conditions that require PT, and they use balling, postisometric relaxation, mobilization of your spine and joints, acupressure, soft mobilization techniques, reflex massage, acupuncture, Pneumopuncture and gas injections. Their medical staff also uses Ultrasound for neuritis and neuralgia, Diathermy for muscles and inflammation, Magnetic Therapy, Galvanization for chronic and inflammatory kinetic diseases and Interference Streams, which they use for kinetic diseases as well, but also for some digestive issues, such as constipation, and poor circulation.
Oxygen Therapy and the Power of Salt
In this treatment, you breathe in oxygen-enriched air, which is meant to improve your immune system and strengthen the body and helps to prevent progressive pulomonary hypertension. Our group experienced an Oxygen therapy but in the other well known spa town of Marianske Lazne, so be sure to read up about our hotel and spa experiences there as well. They have the ability for you to try out a Salt Cave here, which helps to improve breathing problems, immunity overall and allergies.
Salt Cave: photo credit: Imperial Hotel Group
The above list is an overview to give you an idea of some of the types of traditional (and medical) services they offer and while I didn’t mention even more intense therapies like Lymph Drainage or more moderate relaxing ones, like Chocolate body wraps or Indian head massages, know that their offerings are extremely vast. In fact, a 50 page booklet is dedicated to the various treatment, procedures and therapies they offer. Note that I am not recommending any of Imperial’s wellness or medical programs, but merely sharing some of their offerings and my experience there — all decisions should be based on a consult with your own doctor or health practitioner. I was not there for a medical reason, but more for a relaxing one and to better understand the difference between some of the medical and general spa facilities in the Czech Republic.
Useful Articles and Links for Spa & Wellness Travel in the Czech Republic
- Head to Karlovy Vary for its Healing Thermal Springs & Storyland-Like Walks
- Discover Heavenly Spa Town Marianske Lazne in the Heart of Bohemia
- Wellness Travel: Danubius Health Spa Resort in Mariánské Lázně
- Chateau Mcely, For Luxury & Serenity in the Czech Countryside
- Hotel Imperial Spa & Health Club in the Heart of Karlovy Vary’s Hot Springs
- Medical & Wellness Spa Programs at Karlovy Vary’s Imperial
- Get Upscale Pampering at Prague’s Mandarin Hotel
- Pure Radiance and More at the Four Seasons in Prague
- Spa Culture in Prague & Beyond