Published in Australia.
Winter has emprisoned the old continent with its cold spells. As the gloomy season expands its cruel grip over the city of Geneva, how can one reconnect with a certain mind-positivity and well-being?
When it comes to relaxation, we first and foremost think about thermal baths overlooking the mountain tops, which bring you out from the city edges. But guess what wellness-lovers, all of these pleasing temptations have landed in the very neighborhood of the Calvinist city center!
The Hamam and Spa Bain-bleu opened its 3’000 m² all dedicated to wellness in November 2015. The concept already exists in Switzerland and gained a resounding success. I had the opportunity to taste a small piece of it, and I can tell you it is a blast.
First of all, I should mention the location, which is an interesting compromise between the city facilities and a perfect-to-disconnect area which is more welcoming in the summer season: Geneva Beach. The thermal center spreads its cubic structure on the shores of Lake Geneva and displays panoramic sightseeing at its top. At first, when I strolled down the polished pavements alongside the pools, wrapped in cozy bathrobes, I noticed the harmonious and magnetic architecture of this multi-story building. The dark shade of the stones and its maze-like design remembered me of Zumthor’s work. Bain Bleu has something to do with Vals thermal baths; maybe it’s related to the enveloping lighting effects, or the subtle game of reflections between the tiles and the flowing waters I adored in Zumthor’s hot springs. For sure, I felt like I penetrated the same but smaller-scale cocoon.
On the first floor, an indoor turquoise pool welcomes me with its thin waterfall. A bit further to the left, a small alcove allows for a discrete rest. A secret water path leads to the core of an open-air-squared tube. I am neck-deep in the sweltering water and I observe the sky through this unexpected chimney. Wandering around is a real pleasure, as I discover some unveiled balconies, from where I can see without being seen.
I decided to leave my secret hideout and to proceed on my aquatic journey. What a surprise when it brought me to a pool terrace rooftop, overhanging the beach area. My eyes eventually plunged further in the metallic-colored lake and the snowcapped mountains. Delighted to find myself alone to enjoy the pool –and trying to quell the guilt which was beating in my heart while having such an insane relaxing time during a working day – I took a dip and found an extra-sized whirlpool area. I was stuck there, as my feet found this delicate jet massages – and I swear I couldn’t move an inch while I was sinking into a contemplative mood. I barely heard the remote mingling sounds of city noises and soothing water splashes.
I was entrenched in the sweetest bubbles torture when I was called to enter the Hamam. It was time I found out about the 6 steps of the Hamam Circuit. What a shock when I was told to let my swimsuit in the cloakroom! Indeed, the Hamam is a circuit in six steps you ought to experience…naked (don’t worry, you keep a towel; you won’t be flashing anything improper). You have to get across different salons whose purpose is to exfoliate your body and…and settle the mind.
As a first step, your body needs to acclimate to the hot and humid conditions. You penetrate a warm steam room with aromatic herbs. When you are done, you are meant to scrub your skin yourself in a special room with a Kessa glove.
Step three amazed me, as I was totally ignorant of what Hamam traditions involved. The very moment I fell in love with oriental beauty methods was when I was given a soapsuds massage. I was told to lay down on a flat stoned-bed. My therapist added comfy inflated plastic cushions under my sore legs and chest. I was wondering what would come next when she started to shower me with a hot water stream. Then she scrubbed every inch of my body with what I assumed was a horsehair glove.
To be honest, it’s not the best impression in the world, but let’s save the best for last when she grabbed a cotton duffle bag filled with soapsuds and pressed it above my body. The sensation was beyond relaxing; the foam drizzled on my limbs with a strong flower perfume and the smooth massage which achieved the process was the closest thing to paradise. ” We gathered the best of the techniques coming from Marocco, Tunisia and even Asia”, my therapist explained.
After the massage, I could relax (again!) in a lovely ceramic-tiled pool and I napped on large heated stones. The decoration of the dry zone allows a peek to further this Oriental fantasy. The design is all about north-African comfy footstools, wood-handcrafted chairs, and middle-east-fashioned coffee tables. You can settle down on comfortable mattresses and cushions covered with rugs to enjoy the inescapable mint tee and oriental delicacies (never run away from the cliché, it’s always the best part of the story !).
Bain Bleu offers a large array of services that promise strong sensations. Why not try the 25-minutes Moroccan Rhassoul wrap? It makes your skin radiant. The argan oil and hot stones massages both seem appealing. You can even book a private salon for a massage or a face-to-face spa session in a huge stoned-bath. The upside surprise remains the price. ” We wanted the spa to be a luxurious moment for everyone, even for the families “, Bain Bleu’ Director Laurence Egli clarifies. And time limit is no issue here, because “everyone has their own pace”.
Yikes ! Did we finally find a solution to cope with the relentless cold season in Geneva?
Location & info:
Bain-Bleu Hammam & Spa Genève-Plage, Port noir, CH-1223 Cologny
firstname.lastname@example.org – Tel. 022 318 48 28