The rise in spa tourism in Galicia in recent years has led to the region becoming the undisputed leader in this field in the Iberian Peninsula, proof of this being the guide you are now reading, which in this edition, its second, includes twenty new spas that have opened in the last three years.
But more important than the number of spa hotels, thalasso hotels or hydros is their variety, which means that each person can find, within Galicia itself, the establishment that best suits his or her needs, tastes or budget: from a modest traditional spa in which to find relief from an ailment to a state-of-the-art spa offering relaxation, beauty or health treatments, or a combination of all these aspects with the enjoyment of natural surroundings or open-air sports and activities, not forgetting, of course, the local food and wine.
In Galicia, a land full of legends, literature and even folk songs dedicated to its waters, the spa tradi- tion goes back a long, long time. The Romans, for example, who were no fools, not only made good use of its many springs to improve their health, but also knew how to enjoy themselves, relax and discuss their affairs in their hot baths. And without having to go quite so far back in time, the towns and villages of our region were dotted with those healing pools that provided our great-grandpar- ents with such relief.
During the golden age of thermalism –from the 1850s to the early 1900s–, the Galician spas with the best pedigree became major social centres frequented by the crème de la crème. During the post-war years, when beach holidays and sunbathing became fashionable, most of these spas fell into decline or were obliged to close. Nowadays, however, as a result of the modern cult of the body and a lifestyle that from time to time makes it necessary for us to call a halt and restore our physical and mental balance, spas are once more coming into their own.
Many have recovered their former glory through modernisation and the incorporation of the latest in spa equipment, thereby attracting a younger type of customer who, in addition to enjoying their traditional therapeutic benefits, is also looking for a few days in which to relax and be pampered, lending support to the idea that you do not have to be ill to go to a spa. New spas have also opened, linked to hotels, some of which boast four or even five stars, and increasing demand has led to the appearance of thalassotherapy centres and hydros.
Spas, where treatments are based on the preventive and curative properties of their medicinal wa- ters and which must have a resident doctor who controls how these are administered, can opt to focus on either the leisure or the curative aspects of thermalism, although they increasingly tend to combine both, as do thalassotherapy centres, where treatments are based on the properties of the sea and its surroundings. Hydros, on the other hand, where the water has no particular properties, are designed to offer customers a few hours’ relaxation and enjoyment in their dynamic swimming pools and bubble jet baths, although some of the biggest offer such a range of services that they are also the ideal option for those whose only ailment is the need to switch off and unwind for a few days, no small matter in these busy times.