For all the crazy races and adventures I take part in, I’m not one to pass up on a good massage or a relaxing day at the spa. After all, it’s the balance that keeps me centered and chugging along. I knew I wasn’t going to find a $5 massage in Switzerland like I would in Indonesia, Thailand or Peru, but when I found a thermal bath spa for CHF 19 (morning session) in the town of Bad Ragaz, it was too good to pass up. And more so because I had just spent the day on a spur of the moment 18 mile run across the entire length of Liechtenstein and my legs needed a good soaking.
What’s Bad Ragaz?
The translation for Bad Ragaz is literally Bath Ragaz. This place, a short hour train or drive from the hustle and bustle of Zurich, has been a spa destination for hundreds of years dating back to Medieval Europe and the Tamina Therme where I would be spending my slow day has been welcoming guests since the 19th century. Here, the thermal spring water bubbles out at a warm 36.5°C after a 14 year journey through the Swiss Alps. The water is known for its healing effect and that’s what I was after.
After a lovely breakfast at the Hotel Garni Ursalina, I headed over to the Tamina Therme. I happened to be visiting during the time where hundreds of internationally-renown artists have installed massive art sculptures all over the town as part of the Bad RagARTz exhibition. Nestled in the Swiss Alps, these pieces made the walk even more pleasant.
The Tamina Therme Experience
To get to the Tamina Therme spa, you turn into Hans Albrecht-Strasse and walk up about 100m. From the outside, it’s a beautiful white building. The architecture is something to behold and the white exterior perfectly matches the design and feel of what you’ll see inside the spa.
Inside, you’ll pass a beauty gift shop to a reception area where you’ll pay for the entrance. The admission price runs from CHF 19 to 36 depending on when you enter and how long you stay. You can find the price list here. The spa is opened from 8 am to 10 pm except on Friday when it closes at 11 pm. I came in for the morning soak, so it was only CHF 19. Considering what I had been paying for EVERYTHING in Switzerland, this was a bargain. You’ll get an electronic key that you use to access your locker. I was initially a little confused where to go first, but someone kindly directed me downstairs to the locker room. It’s on a different level from the main area of the spa called the Thermal Water World. There’s a separate Sauna Area with additional rooms and services for an additional fee of CHF 10.
Thermal Water World
When I finally changed and went out to the baths, I was blown away at the massive space that housed all the pools. Like I said earlier, the white architecture was stunning. The pools were large and with a lot of empty space between them separated by giant structural columns that were just as elegant as they were functional.
In one word, the place was CLEAN. I’m sure the white walls and the blue water accounted for all of that. It was also very spacious and the place was flooded with natural light. This was a stark contrast to most of the spas I’ve visited (Japanese, Korean, Turkish, Russian, etc). I’m used to the warm wood and darker environment that typical spas used to promote calmness and relaxation. This was not that, but it somehow served the same purpose.
The Attraction Pool
I chose to enter the large pool first. It’s called the Attraction Pool and yes, I was attracted to it. Each pool had a different temperature and this one was 34°C (93.2°F), warm but not hot tub hot. I found a spot to settle in, took a deep breath and immediately felt my tension slip away. I laughed a bit inside thinking that this was my Friday morning. After about 10 minutes, I moved over to one of the massage jets to work on my back. “Oh my…” were my exact thoughts. Like a buffet, I had to move on to the next dish, er, pool, so over to the 36.5°C (97.7°F) whirlpool. What a difference a couple of degrees made.
I would have been happy to just stay here for the rest of my visit, but there was more exploring to be done. I took a break to walk around. Upstairs, you could look down on the entire open structure. There was a quiet area with some reclining chairs, which I imagined were for relaxing or taking a nap. I found a couple of doors, but had no idea where they led to since everything was in Swiss German. Maybe the bathroom?
The Outside Pool
The next part was pretty neat. To get to the outside pools, you could walk out the door, or simply jump into a pool that connected the inside to the outer pool. Whoever designed this place made sure to pay as much attention to the outside design as they did with the building itself.
The outer pool was also 34°C and surrounded by a deck with chairs for sunbathing…or napping. In the middle was a large stone structure with a mini waterfall that was strong enough to give me a nice head massage. And that was even the best part. On two sides of the pool were a few rows of massaging recliner built right into the water.
Underwater Massage Recliner
The massage recliners were my favorite part of the outside section. Spaced a few feet apart (to avoid having to awkwardly vibrate next to someone perhaps), these underwater recliners were on a timed schedule that shot out jets of warm water all around you. It was like being in your own little hot tub, but in a curved reclining position. If only someone could have come out and fed me fried chicken, I would have considered moving here.
Time To Say Goodbye
I wanted to stay here all day, but had to catch the Bernina Express train through the Alps to Northern Italy in a couple of hours, so I did another round of moving through all the pools to remember this place. This was certainly one of the highlights of my time in Switzerland and a definite must-do if you find yourself in Bad Ragaz or anywhere near this place. It’s such an easy trip from Zurich that I think it’s a perfect weekend trip to get away from the city. I’m sure the Swiss already know this, and if they don’t, sucks for them. I can’t say for sure if the water really has any healing properties, but I definitely felt ready to run another 18 miles after this quick visit.