Czech doctor reveals what foreigners should know before visiting the country's famous spas

Dr. Markéta Hovorková, who is chief physician of Ensana Health Spa Hotels, talks about what to expect and why you’ll benefit. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 22.11.2022 17:00:00 (updated on 21.05.2023) Reading time: 9 minutes

Mariánské Lázně has a storied history as a spa town. It was already welcoming names like Goethe, Chopin, and King Edward VII to its healing springs two centuries ago. Some of those same treatments that helped to heal the monarchs and composers of yesterday are still used throughout the spas of this lesser-known gem of a town, also known as Marienbad, today.

What do you need to know before you book a stay to take advantage of the healing properties and treatments available here? MUDr. Markéta Hovorková, Ph.D., chief physician of Ensana Health Spa Hotels, Mariánské Lázně explained what to expect on your first visit to a Czech spa.

For those who know nothing about the Czech spas, explain how the concept is different from what we might find in the West where spas focus on relaxation and beauty procedures.

Medical treatment in Czech spas is significantly different from the concept of other spas in the West. Not only do we offer clients relaxation in our wellness centers but also real medical treatment via natural healing resources, innovative medical devices, modern physical therapy, and rehabilitation. This is all conducted completely under the supervision of specialists (physicians, physiotherapists, and nurses) in an accredited medical facility.

Do you have to have a chronic condition to benefit from such treatments?

The effects of spa treatment are beneficial for everyone. They can adjust and restore physical and psychological strength, balance and health, and a faster course of regeneration. Subsequent non-pharmacological rehabilitation care is intended not only for patients with health problems (acute diseases, conditions after operations and injuries, chronic diseases) but also for clients within preventive programs. In general, I can say that we expect an improvement in the patient's condition after a spa treatment.

Do you need a recommendation from your doctor? 

Patients whose spa stay is covered by an insurance company need treatment approval from a reviewing doctor, self-payers do not need a referral. Nevertheless, we are always happy to receive information about a patient’s health from their attending physician.

What can we expect on the first visit to a spa?

Upon arrival at the spa, you will have a consultation with a doctor who will prescribe an individual treatment plan. Depending on the development of your health condition, the doctor may adjust the prescribed treatment during your stay. At the end of your stay, the doctor will perform a final examination and give you recommendations regarding your lifestyle.

Mariánské Lázně is famous for its natural resources. What kind of ailments have traditionally been treated here and how is it different from other Czech spa towns?

Unlike other Czech spa towns, Mariánské Lázně is unique in that it has a total of three natural healing springs. These are mineral springs, “Maria's Gas,” [gaseous carbon dioxide], and peloids [mud and clay]. We use mineral water for drinking cures, mineral baths, and inhalations, Maria's Gas for dry gas baths and injections, and peloids for local wraps.

Mariánské Lázně has always belonged to the most important representatives of the treatment of chronic kidney diseases. A large group of our clients are also patients with diseases of the locomotor system, circulatory and digestive systems. The number of clients with oncological diseases, respiratory diseases, and diseases caused by an unhealthy lifestyle has also been increasing.

In the near future, we will also undergo the final tests of measuring the quality of the air as part of our efforts to obtain the status of a climatic spa. This is a prestigious status that only a few spa towns have received. We would be unique with four natural healing sources! Keep your fingers crossed, we're on the right track.

Have treatments been added in recent years that reflect a rise in burnout and other lifestyle issues?

Modern medicine is increasingly focused on the prevention of chronic non-infectious diseases, the so-called diseases of civilization, which include, for example, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, depression, and burnout syndrome. These diseases arise as a result of an unhealthy lifestyle, lack of physical activity, smoking, or long-term stress.

Mariánské Lázně is also involved in the fight against the consequences of modern lifestyles. We have created a special preventive program for people with a high risk of cardiovascular disease. This program includes, among other things, a consultation with a nutritional specialist, individual exercises with a physiotherapist, evaluation of the state of the cardiovascular system, laboratory screening of serious diseases, and last but not least, our new modern rehabilitation method – Five Konzept.

This unique method a form of active stretching that effectively helps, for example, people with significant back pain caused by sedentary work, insufficient movement, and long-term stress, is completely new to us.

Have technological developments led to new spa procedures and treatments?

Progress is moving forward at lightning speed, and even though we at Mariánské Lázně have not rested on our laurels, we are developing. In addition to using our natural healing resources and physical therapy, we are always looking for new rehabilitation methods, innovative devices, and learning new methodologies.

We have, for instance, the newest induction system – pulse magnetotherapy, which we use in the treatment of incontinence and chronic prostate diseases in addition to acute or chronic painful conditions.

Furthermore, a modern laser helps patients with post-Covid syndrome, which significantly contributes to improving the function of lung tissue. In our treatment, we also use non-traditional cold treatment, either in the form of local cryotherapy for diseases of the musculoskeletal system, or general therapy – in a cryosauna.

Currently, we are also very interested in the use of telemedicine, which we will now use as a pilot in a project for the specialized treatment of oncological patients.

Are there procedures that have stood the test of time? Might we receive the same treatment today as in the 19th century, for instance?

Traditional natural healing sources have not changed, but the way they are administered has changed. For example, we can now apply Maria's gas safely under the skin. Mineral baths and gas envelopes were mostly given in groups, now we try to preserve the intimacy of the client, and most procedures are given individually. However, you can definitely go back to the 19th century.

A special Royal Mineral Bath Cabin was built for King Edward VII, who was repeatedly treated at the Mariánské Lázně. And today you have the opportunity to take this bath in the same elegant environment, in a room lined with original tiles and in an identical bathtub made of a special metal alloy that can maintain the same water temperature for a long time. It is also heated in the original, albeit reconstructed, steam boiler. The experience is truly unique.

How long of a stay is recommended? Is it possible to do a treatment over the course of a weekend?

It depends on the reason for your spa treatment. Whether you are dealing with a health problem, prevention of serious diseases is important to you, or you just want to relax. A shorter stay "Healthy in Marienbad" lets you get to know our treatment, individual procedures, and the environment as a whole, to breathe in the "atmosphere." However, such short-term stays cannot be expected to have a significant and long-term therapeutic effect.

Spa places have historically been associated with culture as well, what, beyond health treatments, can be experienced at Ensana hotels and in Mariánské Lázně?

Mariánské Lázně is undoubtedly one of the most magical spa destinations in the Czech Republic. Clean air, landscaped parks and forests that invite long walks, stunning architecture, and a rich cultural, outdoor, and social life.

Regular concerts by the West Bohemian Symphony Orchestra accompanied by well-known artists and regular performances in the Municipal Theater, chamber music evenings with live music take place in every spa house. In the summer months, the concerts on our wonderful colonnade are an amazing experience, and definitely don't miss the evening performance of our charming and colorfully lit Singing Fountain.

In addition, Mariánské Lázně is among 11 exceptional spa towns from seven countries that have been inscribed on the UNESCO World and Cultural Heritage List. They received this title after a multi-year process based on a positive decision by the World Heritage Committee at its 44th session in Fuzhou, China.

Fast Facts about Mariánské Lázně|The spa town has been visited by world-famous personalities since the beginning of the 19th century. Among the most important visitors were Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Fryderyk Chopin, and the English King Edward VII.

Aside from workouts with a fitness trainer, you can play tennis, ride horses, or play golf on the 18-hole course, which was founded by King Edward VII in 1905. You can also take part in individual or group Nordic Walking, yoga lessons, and pilates, or you can explore Mariánské Lázně on a borrowed electric bike or scooter.

What benefits does a spa stay offer and for how long should a client come to relax? How long do you recommend for treatment?

Short-term stays for relaxation can range within a few days, preventive programs should not be shorter than a week. Based on our experience and taking into account the client's individual state of health, we recommend a minimum length of treatment stay of 2-3 weeks so that the effect of our treatment is long-lasting.

Children are often facing respiratory ailments and other ill effects of modern life. Can families come for treatments and what are the program options for children?

You are right, there are more sick, obese children, dependent on modern technologies. We do not have indications for pediatric patients at Mariánské Lázně, but we try to accommodate families with children as much as possible. Therefore, after consulting a doctor, parents can purchase certain procedures for their children that are approved by a specialist pediatrician.

Is there a traditional "spa season?" What time of year is the best time to visit a spa hotel?

Mariánské Lázně is beautiful year round. And personal health is the most important thing in the world. It's never too late to start taking care of it. Either as part of prevention or treatment. That's why there is no "season" for us, we take care of our clients all year round.

In addition, our hotels are connected to each other through a corridor, which is why, even in bad weather, you can indulge in relaxation in our unique and original Roman baths, special massages, individual exercises with an expert physiotherapist at Five Konzept, or special procedures housed in another spa, even in bad weather.

Name some treatments that might sound unusual to someone who has never had a Czech spa experience.

Gas injection for sure. Although the name of this procedure raises concerns about the painful application, the subcutaneous application of a small amount of Mary's gas really does not hurt. In addition, the effect of this procedure is immediate: pain is suppressed, the blood supply to the area improves and inflammation recedes. The gas contains up to 99 percent natural CO2, therefore the risk of an allergic reaction is minimal, as it is a substance of the body's own.

What is your own personal favorite treatment and what shouldn't we miss when visiting Mariánské Lázně?

My favorite procedure is certainly mineral baths. And not only for its healing effect but also for its relaxing effect. In today's hectic times, it is sometimes necessary to stop for a moment, calm down, and let your thoughts flow freely. This procedure beautifully combines the balneological effect with the psychological effect, the so-called mental hygiene.

What shall we not miss when visiting?

In addition to completing our unique spa treatment, there are also walks in the clean foothills air, a visit to the colonnade with the Singing Fountain, a tasting of spa wafers, and an evening concert in the truly classy Marble Hall of our social house. Combined with our top gastronomy, it will certainly be an unforgettable experience. "Mariánky" has always been unique. And will continue to be.

TIP: Now is the perfect time to book a stay at Ensana Health Spa Hotels: As part of the hotel's “Black Friday” special you can get a 30% discount for all our offers from all countries.

This article was written in cooperation with the Ensana. Read more about our partner content policies here.

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