World's first beer spa offers the ultimate health Czech
THEY brew some of the best beer in the world and now they have - arguably - put it to better use.
The Czech town of Chodova Plana has opened the world's first beer spa, with the drink being marketed as the cure for a range of ailments.
More than 1,000 "patients" have made the pilgrimage in the three months since the Pivovar Chovar clinic opened.
A typical weekend session costs about 80 and features as its centrepiece the opportunity to bathe in a spa tub of the locally brewed speciality.
That speciality is dark lager, which is made at the brewery to which the spa is attached and brewed using the mineral-rich local spring waters.
The treatment takes the form of soaking for 20 minutes in a lukewarm solution of the beer, which is about 2% alcohol - any stronger and the bather would become intoxicated by the fumes - and contains crushed herbs.
Just in case customers develop a thirst, they are treated to a pint of the real thing while luxuriating in the bath.
After the soak, the client is taking to a relaxation room and wrapped in sheets for 20 minutes to remove all tension from the body. Proceedings are concluded by a 25-minute massage, using beer-based oils.
Although residents of Chodova Plana, 100 miles west of Prague, have believed in the health-giving properties of the local beer and spring water for centuries, the brewery, which dates from 1573, opened its fully fledged medical spa only this spring.
An executive at the spa, Jarmela Cepakova - who swears by the health benefits of a single pint of local lager a day - said: "We opened at the end of March and since then we have had over 1,000 people come here for treatment.
"They mostly come from Germany and from here in the Czech Republic, but we have also some from Great Britain and also Americans. Some have been advised to come here by their doctors although, unfortunately, you can't claim for this treatment on the national medical service."
The main health complaints which drew people to the spa included circulatory problems and skin illnesses. "They also come for general wellbeing," said Cepakova. "It does make you feel better."
Asked whether the health-giving properties were due to the spring water or the fact that it had been made into beer, she said: "It's a bit of both. This is a region renowned throughout central Europe for health resorts and spas. There's no doubt that the spring water itself is good for you, but we are convinced that the beer-making process does add something.
"The brewery has been around for centuries and local doctors always said it was good for you. I have a single half-litre a day, for my health you understand."
Tourism to the Czech Republic has boomed in the wake of the fall of the Iron Curtain, although many believe Prague's stag party reputation risks damaging the country's image through attracting too many hard-drinking young males from the UK and Germany.
The industry is instead trying to focus on attracting high-paying health tourists from Germany, Russia and Austria to the country's many spa resorts in an effort to base its business on a gentler clientele.
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