Dutch Spa Relaxation in the Heart of the Hoge VeluweHeather Tucker, Thursday, April 18, 2013
“And this is your spa map.”
Where I come from, spas consist of one steam room, one sauna, a pool and the ability to book a massage. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to get a facial. So when I was handed a fourteen page booklet complete with eight pages of maps, it was pretty clear that I was no longer in Kansas (nor Indiana for that matter).
Instead I was actually standing at desk number six in the reception hall of the Veluwse Bron, a Dutch spa located in the Hoge Veluwe. If you haven’t heard about the Hoge Veluwe then let me introduce you to Holland's largest national park. Inside is the Kröller-Müller Museum, which has a large Van Gogh collection. You’ll also find a sculpture garden, forest, and hunting lodge. There are even 1,000 free white bikes for visitors to borrow in order to cycle around the 26 miles of paved paths.
As my bracelet that would act as everything from locker key to credit card, and spa slippers were handed to me, I had a sneaking suspicion there wouldn’t be any cycling on my horizon. Cycling wasn’t on the spa agenda.
It is amazing how the word spa can strike fear into the hearts of some and mean ultimate bliss to others. I fall somewhere in the middle. The spa is not quite my mother-ship but I am more than happy to visit one given the chance. Despite that, however, I had yet to visit a Dutch spa. Until March 26th that is.
I picked the day with care as Dutch spas tend to be nude ones. If you prefer to enjoy your relaxation with a small amount of clothing on (i.e. a swimsuit) then you are in luck as most of the spas have a number of badkledingdagen (swimsuit days) each month. March 26th was one of those days for the Veluwse Bron. As I had my Balinese massage in a room that looked out on the grassy gentle hills of the park I asked my masseuse if the swimsuit days were more busy than the non-ones. “Not really, it is no busier today than any other day. Or at least that’s not the impression we [the staff providing any of the 35 treatments] have,” she replied.
Hot stone and Balinese massages under our belts, my spa mate and I headed off in search of the outdoor spa village. Two hours later we finally found it. We were partially delayed by the desire to have some lunch in the restaurant but our inability to read the map and figure out hidden staircases also played a large part. Luckily we did find a herb bath, a panorama sauna with music, a scrub temple and a Eastern bathhouse along the way.
Outside, individuals wrapped in warm robes walked in pairs and small groups from one wooden building to another. Heads popped out of the outdoor pool, which was steaming slightly in the colder air, and some brave souls even relaxed on the outdoor loungers looking out over the lake. I can’t tell you if the Veluwse Bron’s unique national park location makes the spa better compared to others in the Netherlands but I assure you that it certainly helped to transport us to another world free from technology (electronics must be left in the lockers, yes that included my beloved mobile) and ideally positioned for relaxation.
We spent the rest of our day floating in the salt pool, breathing in the slight scent of lavender in the lavender sauna, almost falling asleep in the light sauna and seeing how long we could tolerate the 95 degree Celsius earth sauna. We also went for a second round of the herb bath.
After almost ten hours at the Veluwse Bron we still hadn’t managed to try out all of the facilities but we did have enough time to come to the decision that we would definitely be back. And who knows, we might just try out some of the other spas in the country as well.