A perfect place to start is by driving on the Schwarzwaldhochstrasse road to Baden-Baden, looking across the Rhine valley to the Vosges mountain range. My partner and I drove to the Naturepark Schwarzwald for hiking in the Black Forest. In the Naturepark, we took the Merkur Funicular Railway up the steepest incline in Europe, rising 2,191 feet to the Mercury Mountain summit and discovered a votive stone dedicated to the Roman god. We climbed the Mercury Tower and enjoyed the panoramic views of the Baden-Baden basin, the highest mountains in the north of the Black Forest, and the local towns and villages that border on Germany and France.
In this spectacular setting, this culturally rich environment takes on a persona of its own, getting its inspiration from the wilds of nature. This place transforms into a Land of Oz where, like Dorothy, we took a scenic route to reach the magical place of Baden-Baden. Amidst this splendor, we were drawn to the surrounding beauty of the forests, and felt at ease as we experienced the fine arts and spas that this famous resort town offers.
We viewed an arts exhibition on American abstract expressionism at the Museum Frieder Burda, and later enjoyed fine dining at the Der Kleine Prinz Hotel (www.derkleineprinz.de) restaurant. At this boutique hotel, we enjoyed the elegant, charming images of The Little Prince by French writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and the lovely vintage chandeliers that highlight the interior decor. From our rooms, we had magnificent views of the town church’s twin spires where the ringing bells give a rhythm to people’s lives here. From the town center, we walked towards the popular thermal baths of the Caracalla Spa and Friedrichsbad. After our visit, we enjoyed lunch at Café König where we tried the local specialties and indulged in the delicious confectionary delights with coffee. We then strolled through the gardens and arboretum on the fashionable Lichtentaler Allee and looked out at fields of tiny snowdrops under the magnificent trees as we followed the rushing waters of the river Oos.
Health and Wellness
In a beautiful garden setting near the Lichtentaler Allee, we discovered the Villa Stéphanie at Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa (www.oetkercollection.com) that has an exquisite reputation for optimizing health and wellness. Upon arrival, we were greeted and escorted to a beautifully designed salon. It felt like a small country house with modern abstract art that was both soothing and relaxing.
At this exclusive retreat, we had access to this full service spa that includes private treatment rooms and sauna, along with a plunge pool, private gym, and outdoor exercises in an inner courtyard. Just above the treatment rooms are fifteen luxury suites and rooms that are conveniently located to the spa facilities and the Brenners pool.
Guests have access to the amenities at the hotel and enjoy custom-made menus that are developed by the spa’s seven nutritionists. During our visit, we had aromatherapy body treatments that were deeply invigorating before going for a leisurely swim in the spacious heated pool with stunning views of the gardens and the Lichtentaler Allee.
Villa Stéphanie offers co-ed and private sauna, as well as beauty, detox and nutrition, emotional balance and medical care. The seven-day detox program includes a complete medical review, body and metabolism analysis, 8 spa treatments, exercises, along with nutritional guidance with a customized menu.
Offering integrated programs to health, one of the innovative programs is the Digital Detox that consists of an holistic approach for sleeping deeper every night in the Villa’s special rooms. Guests have the option to press a button to disconnect from tech gadgets and create a sanctuary completely free of e-smog, electricity or Wifi. The technologically advanced copper plates in the wall and a special paint finish enable guests to flick a switch to be digitally-free and improve the quality
Villa Stéphanie is the perfect haven to seek out natural well-being and include aesthetic medicine, dentistry, ophthalmology, and other programs that are individualized to each guest. After spending time at this 5-star resort, we felt recharged and ready to visit the legendary town casino.
Having a rich cultural history, Baden-Baden has become a premier destination that has attracted individuals to seek the natural beauty of the Black Forest and to revel in the cultural delights of the town. This dynamic, cosmopolitan place has evolved into a world class resort and a center for wellness and medical care. As a popular getaway, it attracts not only the sophisticated and wealthy, but also appeals to diverse groups of individuals who come for relaxation, culture and outdoor activities.
Visit www.germany.travel, www.baden-baden.de