Monaco is known as a playground for the affluent with its famous casino, The Grand Prix, the French Riviera, and tax-friendly policies. But now, Monaco is also becoming known as a top wellness destination, and it’s doing so by reaching to its past and innovating for the future.
Since the turn of the 20th Century, European aristocracy and elite have followed in the footsteps of the ancient Greeks and Romans to Monaco’s thermal centers, escaping cold winters to enjoy the curative benefits of the Mediterranean Sea. Today, travelers can get a taste of that at Monaco’s many spas.
THERMES MARINS MONTE-CARLO
Located in La Condamine, the heart of Monaco that rims the yacht-filled port, the Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo is the Grand Dame of Monaco’s spas, blending curative Thalassotherapy (seaweed) treatments with innovative services. Skip the main entrance and instead come in through the dramatic marble-lined underground tunnel that connects the spa to the Hotel d’Paris, or the Hermitage Hotel.
Opened in 1908, the 71,000-square-foot facility looks more like a royal residence than a spa. While the exterior is classic European, the inside is light, modern and clean-lined, with the latest equipment for treatments and fitness.
The sheer number of amenities and services at this spa demands at least a half-day or more to enjoy. Start in the fitness center, where the panoramic views from the elliptical are a big motivator, but so is your virtual personal trainer. The ARTIS fitness equipment is the only kind equipped with a console that lets you video-chat with a personal trainer during your workout.
It’s hard to decide which of the intriguing spa services to choose. Do you go traditional with the Maxi-Mineral that features a salt exfoliation, sea mud wrap and massage? Or something like Cryolipolysis, a slimming service akin to a light version Coolsculpting . Better yet, choose several services with the four-day packages of treatments designed for anti-aging, slimming, and overall wellness.
Enjoy lunch in L’Hirondelle, a gourmet restaurant with many nutritious options with fewer than 500 calories. The view of the sea, dotted with dozens of mega yachts and sailboats, plus the iconic Rock of Monaco, begs to be enjoyed from the outdoor Jacuzzi before heading to the spectacular seawater pool. Don’t be surprised to feel a current in the pool coming from large underwater jets. The result is a mini massage or an added challenge to your laps. (Fun fact: Princess Caroline of Monaco is rumored to frequent the pool as part of her fitness regime.)
SPA METROPOLE BY GIVENCHY
Going from Monaco’s oldest spa to its newest, the Spa Metropole by Givenchy487960r is a must-visit. Opened last year, it’s one of only three Givenchy spas in the world.
Hubert de Givenchy said, “The secret to elegance is being yourself,” and that principle guides Givenchy’s spa philosophy. The 10-treatment-room spa is the ultimate in luxury and exclusivity. Guests can choose individual services like the signature Le Soin Noir Renaissance Integrale, which is a two-hour session focused on face and body, using all of the Givenchy skincare lines, or select full-day packages like the Zen Experience, which includes a yoga class, wellness lunch, reflexology, and massage.
We recommend the à la carte option so as to have more time to enjoy the heated seawater Odyssey pool designed by Karl Lagerfeld. This summer, a poolside pop-up restaurant featuring Carme Ruscalleda, who boasts seven Michelin stars, and Joel Robuchon, the spa’s resident chef, makes this THE hotspot for foodies.
CINQ MONDES SPA
Located in La Rousee, Monaco’s northernmost ward, the Cinq Mondes Spa at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort is a bit more secluded and quiet, situated away from the hustle and bustle of Casino Square. The spa is one of 12 worldwide locations of the renowned Paris spa that bases its treatments on the best beauty rituals from five continents.
Don’t miss the Sublime Ritual from Polynesia, which includes either an aroma and flower Japanese bath ceremony or North African Hammam ceremony with aroma-color therapy followed by a scrub with Tahitian Manoi and a Polynesian massage. After your treatment, take a dip in the hotel’s sand-bottom lagoon.
Monte Carlo Casino
A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE IN MONACO
While the Monaco spas dazzle, wellness is more than just being pampered. One of the coolest things to do is to walk around the country—literally. Following the Princess Grace Trail, you can impress your friends by telling them you walked from one end of the country to the other. The trail is nearly four miles long and highlights 25 places that played a role in Princess Grace’s life, including the Japanese Gardens, Princess Grace Theatre, Monte Carlo Casino, and of course the palace that was her home.
For those who want a bigger challenge hike part of the Via Alpina, a system of five trails that snakes through eight countries in 342 stages. The segment in Monaco is a bit over eight miles.
If healthy eats are on your plate you can’t miss Elsa, the world’s first 100-percent-organic, Michelin-starred restaurant at the Monte Carlo Beach Hotel. Under the direction of executive chef Paolo Sari, diners are treated to cuisine crafted from the restaurant’s own vegetable garden and organic ingredients. While there are à la carte options, we suggest trying either the six- or eight-course tasting menu featuring dishes like risotto with black cuttlefish, langoustines and saffron, and local red mullets prepared Riviera style.
Another must-visit is by tennis champ Novak Djokovic who opened Eqvita, a completely vegan and gluten-free restaurant that’s perfect for a casual breakfast or lunch. Djokovic chose a gluten-free diet in 2010 and attributes part of his success on the court to his clean eating.
With wellness travel now a staple among luxury travelers, Monaco offers a great blend of spa and fitness, in addition to all the jet-setting activities the principality has been known for years.
WORLD’S HEALTHIEST COUNTRY
Not only is it one of the world’s richest countries, according to the 2016 CIA Factbook, Monaco is also the world’s healthiest country, with a life expectancy of 90 years! That’s a full decade longer than the average American.
The following factors no doubt contribute to Monaco’s winning wellness ways:
A Mediterranean diet that focuses on seafood, vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains and fresh food.
A health care system ranked 13th in the world by the World Health Organization in 2000.
The country’s wealth level—one in three who live there are millionaires.
Monaco is one of the most environmentally sensitive countries in Europe.
Monaco has the highest number of physicians per person in the world.
The country also boasts the highest level of police per capita in the world.