Ensana Thermia Palace Spa Hotel: Old World Charm and Healing Meet Modern Convenience

 

Ensana Thermia Palace exterior

The natural thermal waters of Europe have been appreciated for centuries for their healing and relaxing properties, and it is hard to imagine a more comprehensive way to experience them than on the continent’s only spa island: Ensana Health Spa Hotels, in Piestany, Slovakia. 

This destination — comprising no fewer than six hotels, ranging in ratings from two to five stars — is so unique that it was chosen this year as the venue of the annual European Spa Association (ESPA) Congress, which brings together leaders of the wellness hospitality community from more than 20 nations.

Rarely does one come across a single sprawling property with so many options to fit nearly any budget: up-to-date economical accommodations, complete with spa facilities, are also available in this balneotherapy complex – the largest not only in Slovakia, but in all of Europe. (With a total of 2,500 beds, Ensana Piestany welcomes some 60,000 guests per year.)

A fortunate fraction of these visitors will stay in the five-star Thermia Palace, which is not only the first and only five-star hotel on the island, it was the first luxury property of this category in the entire country, tracing its opening back to the year 1912. 

Spa pool @ Ensana Thermia Palace

The brainchild of Jewish visionary Ludovit Winter, the Thermia Palace – which also encompasses the incomparable Irma Spa, whose thermal waters come from the same sources used by Napoleon’s soldiers for recuperation – spawned not only the development of the rest of the island, its fame even attracted maharajahs from India as guests. 

Naturally, the building has undergone many refurbishments and refinements ever since, including a new wing overlooking the River Vah, but Thermia Palace’s art nouveau singularity, both inside and out, remains intact. The hotel’s 118 rooms (in 3 categories) — including 16 suites — combine classic period furnishing with all the amenities of a modern luxury hotel: digital climate control, a private safe for valuables, multilingual satellite television, espresso machines and tea-making kettle, and more.

The bathrooms are laudable in their own right, with towel warmers that actually work, and Botanica toiletry amenities. There is a separate stall for the WC, and a spacious walk-in shower area with overhead raindrop showerhead and separate, oversized handheld showerhead. Over the sink is a rectangular, illuminated make-up mirror, while plush robes and slippers are also provided.    

Ensana Thermia Palace guest room

Naturally, free WiFi is accessible throughout the rooms and common areas. All guest units are non-smoking, although the hotel is also pet-friendly. Of course, there are accommodations for disabled guests as well. 

The original Irma Spa – accessible to guests from the entire island, but reachable from your room in the Thermia Palace without having to venture outside (or even dress, apart from your bathrobe) – remains the centerpiece of an Esana Piestany island experience. Here, the beautiful Mirror Pool – with stained glass partition separating men and women – is twinned with the equally aesthetically pleasing Mud Pool, which is housed under a soaring, vaulted ceiling. 

Drinking and dining are also enjoyed in five-star splendor. The lavish, complimentary, daily breakfast buffet – along with other meals – are served in the ornate Grand Restaurant, while the cozy yet elegant Salon Hubertus is the perfect venue for a cocktail, aperitif or digestif.  

Thermia Palace's Grand Restaurant

The Thermia Palace is situated next to the Collonade Bridge, which conveniently links the spa island to the quaint resort village of Piestany. There is a broad, mostly pedestrian boulevard that connects the hotel and bridge with the convention center and vehicular access at the other tip of the island – and this esplanade is lined with parks and gardens ideal for strolling in the fresh air and greenery of Mother Nature.

Esplanade is also the name of the four-star hotel in the Ensana complex, and it is a very reasonable, albeit more contemporary, alternative to the Thermia Palace. The comfortable guest rooms are only slightly less appointed than those in its older sister’s, while it is also home to the island’s only fountain dispensing warm, mineral-rich drinking water straight from underground thermal springs. Reportedly, drinking this healthful water daily during a spa regimen can ameliorate a host of digestive and metabolic conditions. 

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The four-star Ensana Esplanade Hotel

Finally, Piestany is located in the historic, picturesque and vineyard-rich Trnava Region of Slovakia, and it would be unforgivable to spend time on the island without venturing out on day-trips to see the neighboring attractions: first and foremost, the fascinating town of Trnava itself, nicknamed “Slovak Rome” for its many splendid churches (and even two former notable synagogues). Spend some time working out an itinerary, which might include the manor house where the legendary Ludwig van Beethoven reportedly composed the Moonlight Sonata, taking in the “Moravian Venus,” or tasting vintages from the winery that supplied Buckingham Palace. 

As noted, rates for accommodations can vary widely on the spa island: in addition to nightly bed-and-breakfast and half-board stays, spa packages (e.g., health, wellness, beauty) and special deals abound when it comes to both of our featured hotels: Thermia Palace and Esplanade. Handy calendars reference costs for double rooms (including breakfast) per individual night, which start at $210 for the former, and $125 for the latter, depending on the day, date and season. You can also compare rates and book through Booking.com or agoda

Text and photos by Buzzy Gordon, who was a guest of Ensana and ESPA. Additional photos courtesy of Thermia Palace. Additional consideration provided by Trnava Region Tourism. 

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