Story and photos by Barbara Angelakis
Lošinj, Croatia: The Island of Vitality
Picture gazing out over the unpolluted sparkling royal blue waters of the Adriatic Sea, breathing in salt infused pure sweet air and the fragrance and beauty of dark-green pine forests silhouetted against the azure sky. All the while 1,100 aromatic herbs and flowers cover the hillsides and captivate the senses with the tantalizing scents of myrtle, lavender, laurel, lemon, orange, rosemary, eucalyptus, oleander, and any others; and you would be picturing the island of Lošinj, Croatia…The Island of Vitality.
Scientific studies have proven that due to the immaculately clean air and warm sea currents with favorable temperature and humidity, Lošinj is uniquely situated to help in the treatment of chronic lung disease and respiratory disorders. In fact Lošinj has been known as a healing paradise, frequented by the Austro-Hungarian aristocracy since 1889, when Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph, King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia, proclaimed it a health resort. The Lošinj archipelago includes five islands – Cres, Lošinj, Ilovik, Susak and Unije -and over 250 kilometres of walking paths with spectacular views of the deep royal blue water this area of the Adriatic Sea is renowned for.
The scent of herbs – many native to the island - pervade the air. The essential oils that are made by the tedious labor of dedicated families that have passed the process down for generations, is a major tourist attraction. We visited the island of Cres and the picturesque fishing village of Martinscica (St. Marten) for a stop at the Oil House. Since 1903 the Kučić family has been producing essential oils, mainly used for holistic healing elixirs and aromatherapy. Julino and Rena are continuing the family’s small press production of essential oils which they sell along with items such as soaps, candles and jams in their small fragrant shop.
The extensive use of herbs is not limited to small entrepreneurial producers making essential oils for local use, a whole new cosmetic product line has been developed using 100% natural ingredients sourced from the herbs on Lošinj called “Mirta” visitlosinj.hr
We visited the Vitality Hotel Punta in the village of Veli Lošinj - to hear about their health & wellness programs that include aromatherapy as well as active exercise. The Vitality Hotel Punta is a full-service wellness resort offering Health & Fitness, Beauty & Spa, Beach & Pools, Sports & Recreation, Gourmet Meals and Accommodations with high-end amenities. The hotel is beautifully situated overlooking the sea and has a no-nonsense approach to wellness tempered by pampered luxury.
Our next stop was the Aurora Wellness Hotel & Laurus SlowSpa, where we met with Anamarija Pažin Morović, aromatherapist and founder of the spa. Anamarija demonstrated how locally grown essential oils are used to infuse products for the spa and generously gave us the results of the demonstration to take home as mementos. Laurus Slow Spa was recently listed by Premier Traveler as one of the top ten spa’s in the world.
The 5* Hotel Bellevue and SPA Clinic in the city of Mali Lošinj was our base hotel during our visit. The Bellevue has been completely revamped and is the standard against which all other hotels on Lošinj will have to measure up. The arresting entrance flanked by large white columns accented by indirect ground lighting, and the atrium lobby with its stunning Italian rose marble columns and floor-to-ceiling wall of spiral Ammonite prehistoric fossilized shells, set a new benchmark of luxury, as do the large and beautifully furnished guest rooms with state-of-the-art amenities. As much as I appreciated the comforts and beauty of the property and their gourmet kitchen (see Gastronomy section) my prime interest lay in the spas and the health treatments for which the island is renowned.
I could get lost for many days in the SPA Clinic at Hotel Bellevue. It is a large and inviting area with many facilities in addition to the usual sauna, steam and whirlpool. There is a Turkish Bath with Hammam table and an outdoor spa garden; indoor and outdoor seawater pools; state-of-the-art exercise equipment. There are medical programs; nutrition and wellness training sessions available for short or long term treatment; and of course beautifying and relaxing spa treatments provided by highly trained estheticians and cosmetologists. One room in the spa held three heated water beds where you can adjust the warmth and color to achieve your goal: red for Excite, blue for Relax, green to Tone, white to Purify. Once you adjust the color and heat to your specifications, lie down and allow the good vibrations to soak in.
There are beautiful areas for relaxing and cooling down and a darkened room with lounge chairs constructed out of black marble which can be adjusted for angle and heat. All these areas you can enjoy on your own either before or after treatments or wellness classes.
My first treatment was performed by Ivica, a specialist in the state-of-the-art LCM System or Diamond machine. You lie fully clothed in the technologically advanced therapeutic light table while Ivica manipulates the machine to achieve balance and healing throughout the body using light, color and movement; hence LCM. It is a no hands-on painless and calming treatment that leaves you feeling refreshed and energized. There are more advanced uses for the LCM to handle physiological and physical dis-ease but I just got a taste of what the machine is capable of doing.
I enjoyed a SPA Clinic signature back massage with Emma and a spectacular new special booster facial with Sanela using the luxury British product line Elemis, one of several cosmetic lines used at the SPA depending on the needs of the client.
One of the most memorable days during our visit was a sail boat ride on the “Alhambra” to the islands of Susak and Ilovik. Susak is the only all-sand island in the archipelago and is a geological mystery. The sea here is warm, clean and inviting, and you can practically walk to the horizon in knee deep water. Standing in the placid water with tiny fish swimming around my legs was magical and I could almost hear the siren sound of old enticing me to come closer… all the while warm breezes planted silent kisses on my exposed skin and a church bell in the distance chimed the hour. The church was at the top of the island in the old town accessible through narrow winding lanes of manicured homes many oozing scents of baking bread and promises of the noon-day meal to come. Overwhelmed by the smells we stopped at a bakery for meat and veggie pies and passed them around so all could share in the local delicacies.
You can travel to Lošij to improve your physical health or your mental well-being… or both… either way The Island of Vitality is a paradise on earth.
For information visit:
Lošinj Hotels & Villas: www.losinj-hotels.com
Mali Lošinj Tourist Board visit: www.tz-malilosinj.hr
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