Somehow, in the blur of girls’ weekends and rock-bottom spa deals, the quality of spa facilities and proper, enriching, clinical spa treatments has been lost.
When I hit my 50s, I realised I wanted more than a 21-year-old prodding my face for an hour and calling it a facial. I would rather pay a higher price and receive a treatment that will enrich my skin, quality of life or health for the long haul, and have it administered by a professional practitioner who really knows their stuff.
Hell, I’ve even toyed with the idea of having a ‘bit of work done’, but stories of low-grade botch jobs sent me running for the hills.
If you haven’t heard about them yet, medical spas – where you can get anything from a facelift to teeth whitening – are becoming more popular. And if you’re looking for health benefits, where better to go than a facility with 70 doctors on call?
Bad Ragaz, with more than 70 doctors and therapists in fields including diagnostics, rheumatology, rehabilitation, dental health, gynaecology and ophthalmology, is widely recognised as one of the best medical spas in the world. It’s famous for its thermal water that bubbles up from the nearby Tamina Gorge at a warming 36.5°C.
The resort offers a combination of five-star luxury and medi spa where you can do as much or as little as you wish. Set in the picturesque alpine landscape of the St Gallen Rhine Valley, it is close to the glamorous ski resort Davos and a 90-minute train ride from Zurich.
Perhaps Bad Ragaz’s key selling point is that you can come and simply relax and enjoy these soothing waters and a top-quality massage and then head off to the slopes, or visit for the full works and undergo some nipping and tucking and then recuperate in some of the best surroundings money can buy.
For those wanting privacy, the medical spa and the hotel have a separate IT system so none of your treatment or personal information is passed between the two. When you skip to dinner looking ten years younger the waiters will be none the wiser.
With this level of privacy it’s little surprise celebrities grace the doorway regularly. Sports superstars including tennis ace Roger Federer and Liverpool Football Club also make use of the facilities and rehabilitation expertise at the resort.
The most impressive building in the resort is the stunning cathedral-like indoor/outdoor thermal spa Tamina Therme, which is also open to the public (a historic government stipulation ensured the waters piped from the Tamina Gorge had to be available to all).
You could spend all day at the Tamina Therme with its thermal pools, steam rooms, hot tubs, icy plunge pools and saunas. Swimming in the warm water of the outside pool while checking out the snow-capped peaks in the distance is all but magical but watch out for the current, you can find yourself floating into the arms of a Swiss local.
If you want to splash out book the private spa suite which includes a home cinema so you can watch a film while you are massaged and drinking champagne.
For the ultimate spa weekend you can also book the 440-square-metre penthouse suite, an impressive private retreat with a dedicated personal butler and expansive views over snow-capped mountains from its outdoor Jacuzzi and terrace.
The penthouse is a snip at £6,500 to £8,000 per night, but mere mortals can book a standard room at the resort starting from £165 per person per night.
There are seven restaurants, six bars, a casino, an 18-hole golf course and a nine-hole executive course and tennis courts. But should you wish to get out and enjoy the countryside the surrounding area of Heidiland (Johanna Spyri was inspired to write Heidi in Bad Ragaz) offers Nordic walking, biking, horse riding, paragliding and trekking and is absolutely stunning.
Take a trip to the original bathhouse at Pfifers and then walk up to the source of the thermal spring at Tamina Gorge. The hotel can also organise a visit to the nearby vineyards, where you can taste local wine, cheese and cured meats. Swiss wine is quite a secret as they export very little but it tastes delicious.
For petrol heads there are two Harley-Davidsons and a Porsche that can be taken for a spin at no extra cost.
The Bad RagARTZ festival is held here every three years and this year there were about 400 artworks dotted about the hotel and local town including blue sheep and mirrored sculptures.
Rooms in the original resort are classic and traditional in style but the modern spa suites are state of the art. The design is contemporary, with the suites are decorated in chic, pale beige tones, with soft fabrics, and adjustable AirTouch beds. Each has a private spa area with a steam bath and a free-standing whirlpool bath with thermal water flowing from the taps.
Nightly rates at Grand Resort Bad Ragaz from CHF 245 (approx £165) per person sharing a double room. Includes breakfast, welcome aperitif, use of the 36.5° Wellbeing & Thermal Spa area and Tamina Therme, fresh fruit and Ragaz water each day and daily fitness and relaxation lessons