Spring has sprung and summer is a sniff around the corner! So, it’s time to start peeling off layers and revealing the flesh. White and wobby? Dull and dry? Whatever state you’re in after our rather long, wet and windswept winter, there’s no excuse for not pampering your body in readiness of summer. Malta is spoilt for spa and wellness centres. A 15-minute drive from my home, I’ve a pick of five-star and better four-star hotels with spa facilities.
In fact, Malta has carved a niche as a spa and wellness destination. Hotels recognised that while Malta isn’t a true winter sun destination like the Caribbean, it does have light and a mild enough, if often wet winter climate to entice visitors in the shoulder and low season. And enough attributes to lift spirits and restore energy levels.
Malta is no newcomer to the health and well-being. It has a long and veritable role in caring for people, dating back to the time of the Hospitaller Knights of St John. Their hospital, now the Mediterranean Conference Centre, in Valletta, was renowned throughout Europe in its day for its advanced medical practices. The Knights legacy lived on in the British period when Malta became known as the ‘nurse of the Mediterranean’ for its role in caring for British troops. In its 2011 quality of life index, US-based International Living Magazine ranked Malta’s health care as just above that of the UK and Australia’s. The Islands seem to have the credentials for spa holidays then.
Spas that spoil you for choice
In the past few years, the Islands have seen the arrival of some 40 or so spa and wellness centres, most based in the top category hotels. Full- and half-day packages and options à la carte mean spa and wellness treatments can form all or just part of a holiday.
You’ll find all the tried and tested as well as popular and pioneering spa treatments available. Malta’s spas tend to specialise in themes of treatments. You’ll find Ayurvedic, Balinese, Thai, Chinese, Indian and Turkish treatments and more to take your pick from.
Many spas offer innovative packages such as ‘mother and daughter’ treatments, and various signature therapies ranging from colour therapy, body toning, and detox or stress-buster programmes to specialist aesthetic interventions. On hand too you’ll often find qualified nutritionists, dieticians, physiotherapists, chiropractors and personal fitness trainers as well as practitioners of Pilates, Yoga and Tai Chi.
Many hotels offer saunas, Jacuzzis and therapy pools, Turkish baths and hammam to complement general swimming facilities. Spa hotels can often have landscaped spaces, from sun decks to palm-filled gardens that make great backdrops for the indoor therapy and pools and occasionally they house an outdoor sauna. Residents and usually spa day guests too, have access hotel sport and leisure facilities, including gyms and tennis courts.
Check before you book
Check out the hotels’ menu of spa therapies before you book to see which offer the style you’re after. In Malta, spas are nearly all about pampering and relaxing and tend not to be clinical or medically-inspired like some you still find in continental Europe. We doubt you’ll come across austere white-tiled bathing facilities here. But several spas here do offer unique, pioneering treatments that are designed, for example, to help people recuperate after operations, or work on specific clinical complaints. With one or two of the larger spas advertising in British Vogue magazine, you can see just how big a business the whole wellness sector has become in Malta. With 40 or more on offer, shop around especially in the shoulder months as some will have bargain priced all-inclusive weeks with a good number of treatments thrown in.