Review: Las Caldas Hotel & Spa Resort, Oviedo in Spain
There’s a lot more to Spain than sun, sand and sangria, as writer Nilufer Atik discovered…
Ask anyone which country they think is the most popular holiday destination among Britons and they’ll undoubtedly say Spain.
With an eclectic mix of cosmopolitan cities, pretty fishing towns, fantastic beach resorts and some of the world’s most spectacular vineyards to experience, it’s no wonder millions of us flock to this Mediterranean hot spot every year.
Barcelona, the largest city in the Catalonian region, combines stunning architecture with trendy bars, Michelin-starred restaurants and stylish hotels, whereas the capital Madrid is steeped in history, boasting numerous museums, boutique stores and family-run delis and cafes. For sun-lovers there are plenty of coastal areas to enjoy like Majorca – the largest island in the Balearic Islands, which are part of Spain and located in the Mediterranean – or the Costa Brava, which has some of the finest Blue Flag beaches in Europe.
If, however, you are looking for a little more than sun, sand, sight-seeing and sangria, head north west to the small city of Oviedo and you’ll find it. Described by Woody Allen as a place that seems to be taken from a fairytale (he directed his film “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” there in 2008), it is located in the fairly unknown autonomous community of Asturias, which sits between the Cantabrian Mountains and the Bay of Biscay. Oviedo is famed for its medieval old town, which houses many architectural feats, including the Gothic Oviedo Cathedral, and the churches of San Miguel de Lillo and Santa María de Naranco, both thousands of years old.
But one of the main reasons to venture there is to experience the wonders of one of the world’s oldest spas – Las Caldas Villa Termal. Originally known as Las Caldas Spa, this famous site opened way back in 1776, and has been welcoming guests in search of healing and rejuvenation ever since. The primary pull is its natural thermal waters, said to have numerous health benefits.
After several centuries offering thermal bathing services alone, the spa closed in 2003 for a complete transformation, opening again in 2008 as a four and five-star hotel with a 40,000 sq. metre spa complex which marries its unique history, with a 21st century wellbeing concept.
El Manantial, the original spa, was designed by Spanish architect Ventura Rodriguez back in 1776, and still stands in the old Bath House. Featuring several pools at various temperatures, saunas, steam baths and relaxation rooms, all of the mineral-rich water used is naturally loaded with calcium and magnesium, said to have sedative, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory effects. In fact, the water is believed to have such remarkable medicinal properties, it is even inhaled to help people with breathing difficulties in the wellness clinic.
The Royal Spa is the most modern part of the Bath House, and offers a range of services focused on health, beauty and well-being, such as mud wraps, exfoliation, lymph drainage massages, aromatherapy baths and facials.
Then there is the Columns Hall, an exclusive private space for couples or small groups that transports you back in time to ancient Rome with a central flotation pool, Roman bath, jacuzzi, contrast showers, relaxation area, and a space for treatments.
The hydrotherapy theme continues outside too, with different areas in which to swim, wade, float and relax on bubble beds, in jacuzzis or heated pools, with glorious panoramic views of the surrounding nature. Alternatively, you can soak up the rays on warm sun loungers while listening to the rustle of wind in the surrounding trees and breathing in the sweet scent of flowers. The idea is to bring sound, sight and sensation together to help balance the mind and body. And it really does work.
The concept behind Las Caldas is to provide each guest with a personalised wellbeing experience, so nutrition and fitness play an important part too as do the dozens of therapeutic treatments available. There’s a wellness clinic, offering everything from Chinese medicine and nutritional advice and guidance to shiatsu massage and physiotherapy, as well as a sports clinic where you can have your fitness levels tested and running or cycling techniques analysed by experts. Even the chefs at the Violator restaurant are trained to serve only organic, seasonal, healthy foods.
Activities range from gym training to cycling, golf, running, or even triathlon training, with professional coaches available for each. Or if you want to take it easy during your stay, you can go walking around the city instead on one of the many sightseeing walks available. The area is a treasure trove of Spanish religious architecture, dotted with monasteries, cathedrals and shrines that date all the way back to the 9th century.
And despite being part of Spain, Oviedo never gets too hot. Being close to the Atlantic Ocean means its summers are mild rather than sweltering. Most people visit the city between July and September when the weather is warm and dry although Easter and Christmas periods, when it’s more likely to rain, are popular too.
Be thankful of this rain however, as without it, Oviedo would not have such a glorious green landscape. Head around three miles out of the city and you will see this landscape at its best from Monte Naranco. At this mountain’s highest point over 630 metres above sea level, stands a 114 ft statue, The Sacred Heart of Jesus, from where the views are breathtaking. It’s a tough climb up, taking between two to four hours depending on how fit you are, but you can always reward yourself afterwards with a lovely float or aromatherapy bath back at Las Caldas.
Prices from £110 per room per night at the four star Enclave hotel and £164 per room per night at the five star Gran Hotel. A range of spa, wellness and fitness packages also available.
Flights available from Vueling and British Airways/Iberia from £90 return.
Address: Las Caldas, s/n, 33174 Oviedo, ASTURIAS / +34 985 798 787