This article includes a list of general references, but it lacks sufficient corresponding inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (November 2010) (Learn how and when to remove this message)
Destination spa in Bormio, Italy

A destination spa or health resort is a resort centered on a spa, such as a mineral spa. Historically, many such spas were developed at the location of natural hot springs or mineral springs. In the era before modern biochemistry and pharmacotherapy, "taking the waters" was often believed to have great medicinal powers. Even without such mystic powers, the stress relief and health education of spas also often has some degree of positive effect on health. Destination spas offer day spa facilities, but what sets them apart is that they also offer hotel facilities so that people can stay multiple nights.

Typically, over a seven-day stay, they provide a comprehensive program that includes spa services, physical fitness activities, wellness education, healthy cuisine, and special interest programming.

A special subgroup are the medical spas who offer treatments that are paid back by the national health insurance program.

All-inclusive program


Some destination spas offer an all-inclusive program that includes facilitated fitness classes, healthy cuisine, educational classes and seminars, as well as similar to a beauty salon or a day spa. Guests reside and participate in the program at a destination spa instead of just visiting for a treatment or pure vacation. Some destination spas are in tropical locations or in spa towns.

Destination spas have been in use for a considerable time, and some are no longer used but are rather preserved as elements of earlier history; for example, Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs in California is such a historically used spa whose peak patronage occurred in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Resort spas are generally located in resorts, and offer similar services via rooms with services, meals, body treatments, and fitness a la carte.

Types of medical services


Typical medical services offered at destination spas include:

Medical Spas


Medical Spas - provide treatments and revalidation therapies paid back by the national health insurance, have to comply to the ISO 21426:2018 on tourism and related service requirements for medical spas[1] and have a medical doctor on site who supervises all the treatments.

In 21 of the 27 EU countries they are very known and they have often state contracts with the ministry of health to provide a certain minimum yearly capacity of treatment places for patients. Another example are the contracts with for example the national public transport operators to help recuperate lung capacity or change unhealthy lifestyle and food consumption behavior. In the latter case, reimbursement by the public health care is only done after people stayed the minimum prescribed 14 to 18 days, the time necessary to provoke behavioral changes and take the healthier lifestyle choices and practices back home.[2]

It is common for elderly people to take every year a one-week treatment in medical public spas, which offer treatments for patients with syndrome diseases such as fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, rheumatism, and arthritis.

Treatment is also offered in Ministry of Ayush hospital revalidation centers, in the Middle Eastern Hammam steam bath facilities, as well as Asian or "Traditional Chinese Hot Spring" centers, and Japanese shinrin-yoku centres.



Since the COVID-19 pandemic, medical spas have received additional attention for the treatment of post-COVID patients, especially the subgroup with symptoms indicating destroyed neural cells and neural networks in the brain, to undergo specific ergo-therapies during 2–3 weeks to give their body and brain the time to regrow these neural networks.[3]



  1. ^ ISO 21426:2018 Tourism and related services — Medical spas — Service requirements
  2. ^ "European Spas Association". 16 May 2023.
  3. ^ "Post-corona treatments". 28 November 2022.