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Best Spa resorts and hotels in Crete

Best Spa resorts in Crete!
Spa resorts and hotel are becoming more and more popular the last decade. Many hotels and touristic areas started to propose resorts and hotels dedicated to wellness, massage, bath therapies,… But what is exactly a spa ?

Origin of Spa

There a re two origins for Spa. Some say that it is an acronym of roman Sanus per aquam, that means health trough water, but we don’t have acronym evidence older thant 20th century. Most frequent is that The term is derived from the name of the town of Spa, Belgium, whose name is known back from Roman times, when the location was called Aquae Spadanae.

Spa has been frequented as a watering-place since the 14th century. It is the town of Spa which has become eponymous with any place having a natural water source that is believed to possess special health-giving properties, as a spa. But Spa really started being popular in 16th century, when its thermal mineral water started to bo sold over Europe. It was the first mineral water business. This helped a lot to increase the termal bath reputation acrross borders. In 17th, and even more 48th century, Spa became the most popular theraml destination for european crowned heads, nobility and bourgeoisie. So popular that , after his visit in 1781, Joseph Benedict Anthony Michael Adam, alias Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor, nicknamed Spa as « the cafe of Europe ».

Spa thermal bath Belgium
Spa thermal bath, Belgium

Spa welcomed many renowned visitors as Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Peter the Great,, Tsar of Russia,… No surprise if first modern casino in the world was build in Spa for its famous visitors..

Definition ofSpa resort
The International Spa Association defines spas as “places devoted to enhancing overall well-being through a variety of professional services that encourage the renewal of mind, body, and spirit.” For law, spa resort is facility within the boundary of a resort building that provides professionally administered personal care treatments such as, but not limited to, massages, facials, hair care, and nail care. Treatment providers must be licensed under professional licensing. The resort spa also must hold a license to conduct business as a spa or similar operation under local licensing laws.

As international spa definition is quiet broad, we usualy classify spa within 6 categories :

Day Spas

Day spas are spas that don’t offer overnight accommodations but do have a wide range of spa services. They usually offer massage, facials, manicures and pedicures and treatments like wraps or scrubs, spa facilities such as saunas, vapor baths, swimming pools, gym equipment, etc. Day Spas are stand-alone operations that cater guests wanting to enjoy a wholesome rest. The vast majority of spas are day spas

 Hotel spa

 A hotel spa offers a wide variety of recreational facilities, including a full-service spa. Activities may include golf, tennis, water sports, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, and more. The spa menu is dedicated to day treatments including pampering beauty salons and holistic wellness programs. Hotel spas, as the name suggests, are always in conjunction with an adjoining hotel, allowing guests to access their services while on vacation. They can be found in both urban and rural settings, and range from budget to luxury spa treatments.

Thermal Resort

At a thermal resort, comprehensive programs are offered that include holistic spa treatments. The central event for guests includes of course the diverse forms of thermal water applications from swimming in different types of swimming pools to holistic treatments using thermal water. The spa facilities vary across the board – from beauty and health treatments to those of a medical and recovery nature. The stay typically last more than two days. A hotel can, but does not have to, have an adjoining thermal resort. This means that either people from the public or private hotel guests could have access to the thermal resort.

 Destination Spa

 Destination spas are predominately visited due to their specific position to offer an on-site source of natural mineral, thermal or seawater and use a complete infrastructure of wellness facilities to offer a special spa experience. The Spa itself is a speciality and most of the services of the hotel are focused on the Spa. The Destination Spa also represents the highest form of Spa lifestyle. Hotels often offer All-Inclusive packages which include spa services, from body wellness, therapeutic full-body and beautifying treatments. They also focus on fitness and sport activities and propose specific nutrition programs and a holistic approach to health. This must also be done by specialist staff and requires therefore the presence of a medical doctor.

 Medical Resort

A medical resort also offers comprehensive programs that strive for a holistic approach to treatment. A team of doctors leads medical treatments. The emphasis is on more lengthy treatments which take three weeks or more, and therefore have adjoining hotels. Medical resorts enable complementary and alternative medical treatments to be applied, and there is also the possibility of thermal water treatments in various forms. Nutrition and exercise programs as well as physical therapy programs are offered. Medical resorts are exclusively to be used by patients or private guests.

 Medical Spa

These spas also operate under the full-time supervision of a license healthcare profession. Medical personnel work alongside spa therapists in an atmosphere that integrates clinical-grade aesthetic enhancement and spa treatments/concepts. Med spas may or may not have overnight accommodations. These spas provide comprehensive wellness and preventive care that may adhere to traditional Western medical concepts, complementary/alternative philosophies, or a combination of the two (known as integrative medicine). Spa treatments are incorporated into wellness programs as an effective way to reduce stress and for rejuvenation.

Most frequenttreatments in resorts
Most of rSpa resorts offer usual treatments as body massages, facial treatments and hydrotherapy with sauna, hammam, but what are exactly these most popular treatments?

Acupressure Massage

If you’re looking to de-stress and relieve pain, this type of therapy could be the one for you. It involves placing pressure on certain points of the body, similar to the points used in acupuncture. The therapist will apply gentle but firm pressure on areas of your body with their fingertips to encourage energy to flow and to aid healing. An acupressure massage is said to be fantastic at relaxing the mind and body, improving your circulation, relieving any aches and pains, encouraging the healing of injuries and generally enhancing your well-being.

Abdominal Massage

An abdominal massage involves applying pressure to the stomach and pelvic area. For women, it is used predominantly to treat a displaced uterus but also infertility, painful or irregular periods, hormonal imbalances, bladder problems, constipation and ovary issues. It can also be beneficial for men who suffer digestive upsets, bladder issues and pain in the pelvic region

Thai Massage

One of the more popular types of massage therapy, a Thai massage involves a combination of acupressure, body rocking and assisted stretching. It generally takes place on the floor and is carried out using the feet, knees, elbows, thumbs and palms; you can either have a full body massage or have it target a particular troublesome area. This is a frequent choice to treat back or shoulder pain, a stiff neck or muscle strain. It also helps to improve circulation and spinal alignment.

Deep Tissue Massage Therapy

If you suffer from chronic or serious muscle pain and tension or you’re seeking recovery from an injury, this is the therapy for you. The massage therapist will use deep pressure directly on the area of concern with their fingertips, hands, elbows or forearms, which can often feel uncomfortable. This therapy targets the deep layers of muscle and seeks to break down the tissue which is causing the pain or inflammation, helping you to recover.


Aromatherapy involves a classic massage technique with long strokes and kneading, but with essential oils, which derive from plant material. These oils are then absorbed through the skin and release a lovely perfume which you’ll breathe in. Different oils will be used depending upon your personal needs; you may need calming, energising, cleansing or decongesting, all of which require a different combination of oils. This is a fantastic therapy for stress relief and deep relaxation.

Ayurvedic Massage

Gain the healing powers of Ayurveda with this therapy, which aims to maintain the health of the mind and spirit. Each massage is personalised to your individual needs, with particular oils, movements and techniques. Your therapist will focus on your pressure points, similar to those used in acupressure. This type of massage is great for detoxifying and cleansing your body and mind, strengthening your immune system and improving your overall well-being whilst on an Ayurveda spa holiday.

Indian Head Massage

Based on Ayurvedic healing, an Indian head massage provides relaxation and revitalisation. Stress often builds up in the tissues, muscles and joints of the head, face, neck and shoulders, so this therapy aims to release this tension. During a treatment, you’ll sit in a massage chair and the therapist will apply pressure and movements to the neck, shoulder and scalp, as well as occasionally to the face. This is great for providing stress relief and treatment for headaches and insomnia.

Lomi Lomi Massage

This Hawaiian massage involves long rhythmic strokes that vary in pressure and speed, carried out by the forearms, hands and sometimes elbows of the therapist. Oil is used to nourish the body, enhancing the fluidity of the massage strokes. This therapy is highly beneficial to the vital systems of the body, including digestive, muscular and immune, and encourages a feeling of inner peace and happiness by the end of the treatment.

Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu massage aims to enhance energy flow around the body with continuous rhythmic sequences of pressure applied by the fingers, thumbs and palms. No oil is used in this therapy so you can stay fully clothed. This massage is excellent at relieving pain, eliminating stress and improving your circulation on a de-stress spa holiday, and it also encourages your body’s natural healing process. You’ll end your session feeling both physically and mentally renewed.

Watsu Massage

A unique type of massage, Watsu takes place in warm water and combines dance, stretching, joint mobilisation and elements of massage and shiatsu. The therapist continuously supports you, whilst you float and are stretched, cradled and rocked. This combination of warm water and massage therapy creates deep relaxation and can have healing benefits on the body, as the muscles are freer and can release more tension than on land.

Hot Stone Massage

This type of therapy involves smooth, heated stones of different shapes and sizes, either placed on various muscles or used an as extension of the therapist’s hands to massage the body. Hot stone massages can vary in their style but usually the therapist warms up your body with traditional massage techniques, and then uses the hot stones to aid the massage. The heat is deeply relaxing and allows the therapist to work on muscle tension at the deepest level. This therapy helps to improve circulation, relieve any aches and pains and reduce stress and anxiety.


Lymphatic Drainage Massage

If you’re looking for some extra help to reach your weight loss goals, improve your circulation, treat water retention or reduce any aches and pains, a lymphatic drainage massage may be just what you need. It’s a gentle massage which focuses on stimulating the body’s lymphatic system, encouraging the body to eliminate any toxins and waste.

 Four Hand Massage

One of the therapies more easy to understand from its name, a four hand massage is carried out by two therapists who work fluidly from head to toe in harmony to squeeze and stretch all the tension out of your body. In general, they’ll mirror each other, with one therapist taking the lead whilst the other follows. Using long sweeping strokes, deep kneading and assisted stretching, they’ll leave you feeling completely relaxed.  It’s an experience that targets your mind, body and spirit, and can encourage healing, improve circulation and relieve pain.

Swedish massage

Swedish massage is a gentle type of full-body massage that’s ideal for people who are new to massage, have a lot of tension, are sensitive to touch. It can help release muscle knots, and it’s also a good choice for when you want to fully relax during a massage. For this massage, you’ll remove your clothes, though you may choose to keep your underwear on. You’ll be covered with a sheet while lying on the massage table. The massage therapist will move the sheet to uncover areas that they are actively working on. The massage therapist will use a combination of kneading, long, flowing strokes in the direction of the heart, deep circular motions,vibration and tapping, passive joint movement techniques. Usually a Swedish massage will last for 60–90 minutes

 Classic facial

Also known as European facial, classic facial is the most basic type of facial. A classic facial includes steaming of the face, exfoliation, extractions, massaging, maybe some masks, and then the application of serums and moisturizers. You can get a classic facial as an addition to your skincare routine. You can also get it whenever you feel like pampering yourself. A classic facial is good for maintaining healthy skin as well as targetting specific skin issues like acne reduction. The benefits of classic facial are maintaining clean, decongested, and glowing skin. It deeply cleanses the face, unclogs pores, evens out the skin tone, and gives you a more radiant complexion.

 Lymphatic massage facial

Lymphatic massage facial (lymphatic drainage) is usually a part of other facials such as a classic facial. Besides giving you a super-relaxing experience, lymphatic massage facial reduces puffiness and built-up tension around the face and neck. It’s all about massaging specific areas on the face and neck to relieve tension and blockage. Lymphatic massage can give you a healthier complexion by increasing circulation. And it also helps remove water retention and toxins.

Microcurrent facial

Also called microcurrent therapy, microcurrent facial refers to any facial treatment that involves an electrical device. No need to freak out over getting electrocuted. The procedure is completely safe and pain-free. You can get the facial alone or as an additional step to other facials. The most popular microcurrent facials are Galvanic and High Frequency.



Microdermabrasion is a minimally invasive type of facial treatment. Basically, there’s a device with a crystal or diamond tip. This device brushes off the upper layer of your skin while vacuuming anything that comes off. It works like sandpaper over the face. This treatment removes dead skin cells accumulated over the face. It promotes cell turnover, and collagen and elastin growth. The resurfaced skin looks healthier with less visible lines, pores, and scars. It’s perfect for anyone at any age who wants to get rid of fine lines, scars, and dullness. Microdermabrasion can give a clean, softer, plump, and glowing skin.


Acupuncture facial

Acupuncture facial is a treatment where they place tiny needles on several parts of the face. These controlled micro-injuries stimulate collagen growth.

The benefits of acupuncture facial are firming up loose skin, minimizing wrinkles, and getting rid of scars through cell regeneration.  

Anti aging facial

An anti-aging facial is a general term used for facials that target specifically age-related skin issues. An anti-aging facial can include a chemical peel, microdermabrasion, or microcurrent therapy. A combination of different types of these facials address issues like wrinkles, lines, sagging skin, sun damage, dark spots, and textured skin.

 Hydrating facial

A hydrating facial is like watering a plant. It’s specifically designed to hydrate dry and dehydrated skin. It starts with a classic facial but the products are specifically chosen. These are potent humectants to deeply hydrate and moisturize your skin. A hydrating facial gives you a plump, bouncy, and supple skin instantly.

 Chemical peels

Chemical peels are invasive facial treatments where they use chemical acids to promote skin turnover. There are 3 different types of chemical peels. Also, there are several types of acids in different concentrations to address various skin issues. Chemical peels are one of the most effective skin resurfacing treatments. The benefits include decongesting the skin, getting rid of deep-set wrinkles, scars, age spots, and photodamage. It’s the ultimate anti-aging skin rejuvenation where your skin slowly peels off and resurfaces a much healthier layer. Chemical peels boost collagen growth through skin turnover.

  Oxygen facial

An oxygen facial includes the use of a device that sprays out oxygen in a highly-pressured form. After exfoliation and cleansing, your aesthetician applies several vitamin-rich serums to your skin. That’s where the device comes in. It feeds and nourishes the skin by infusing these antioxidants into it. Oxygen facial is suitable for all skin types. It’s perfect for hydrating and brightening the skin. People with dull and tired-looking skin can find this facial highly beneficial.


 A micro-needling facial is inflicting controlled wounds into the skin through tiny needles. This is an invasive treatment that requires numbing cream to avoid pain. Microneedling promotes cell turnover and collagen growth by creating tiny muscle tears. These microscopic injuries cause your skin to switch to an urgent healing mode. And this results in healthier skin. It’s a very popular anti-aging facial treatment to tighten the skin and get rid of lines.

 Aromatherapy facial

This facial is as relaxing as it gets. Aromatherapy facial starts with steaming and cleansing. And then a combination of essential oils are used to massage the face and the neck area. It’s all about relieving tension through therapeutic oils. All skin types can benefit from aromatherapy facial to nourish the skin with antioxidants. After the massage, vitamin-rich products are applied to the skin. You can leave the spa relaxed, replenished, energized, and freshened.


The Finnish treatment of a sauna works in opposition to that of a steam room/ hammam practise. The sauna involves a dry heat treatment in a wood-lined room rather than the steamy moist treatment in a heated marble area of a steam room. The heat created in a sauna induces sweating from the body in order to cleanse it of its impurities and gently heats up the body to help blood circulation and purification of the skin. Saunas have long benches that patients take a seat on and allow around 10 patients in at a time in order to control the temperature of the room. The controlled temperature can also be to the patients taste as some saunas have the feature of a coal stand in them which increases the temperature of the room gradually as the coal added burns away.


 The spa treatment of steam rooms originates from the term hammam which is also known as a Turkish bath. The treatment of hammam is carried out in a rectangular shaped room usually made of marble walls and columns that are heated by small domes to create a hot atmosphere. In some hammam spas, the patient is required to lie on a mat on the floor so that the heat can rise up through the mat into your body to purify and clean the skin. Conditions in hammam spas according to patient clothing can differ as some require you to wear a swimsuit while others allow patients to experience the treatment naked to allow the tradition of hammam treatment to be embraced. However the treatment is experienced, it is said that the steam room is most relaxing for both body and mind and leaves the patient fully rejuvenated afterward

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