18. July 2015
No trip to Slovakia is complete without a visit to AquaCity in Poprad – the final destination on our fascinating spa journey through Slovakia. AquaCity is an ultra-modern yet fantastically affordable new ‘green’ spa resort, offering something for everyone, while helping to save the environment at the same time. It is situated in Poprad, a short distance from the Tatra Mountains that border Slovakia with Poland – a stunningly beautiful area popular with skiers and hikers alike.
The resort opened in 2004 and is the brainchild of Czech philanthropic entrepreneur Jan Telensky, who stumbled on an old borepipe when pushing his infant son’s pram on some waste ground in Poprad. Curious, he made enquiries and discovered that the pipe had been used some years earlier during explorations in the area for natural gas. No gas had been found, but boring down 7,000 feet, an immense subterranean lake of naturally hot water had been discovered. The council were not interested in the water, but Telensky immediately saw its potential. He negotiated a deal with Poprad city to use this limitless thermal resource to create a superb modern spa resort, the first in the world to use geothermal energy as its primary energy force.
Today, AquaCity uses the latest filtration and treatment systems to channel the thermal water, forced up to the surface under its own pressure, to heat the resort and its two hotels and fill the heated indoor and outdoor pools, steam rooms and saunas – even the water in the showers. The water is all recirculated so there is no waste, emissions or environmental damage. Later this year, when three solar panels, each the size of a tennis court, and three wind turbines are built to create an electricity supply, AquaCity will be completely self-sufficient and use no outside energy whatsoever. Eventually, new wells will be bored to supply the entire town of Poprad with water and power.
As you would expect, the modern spa leisure facilities are second to none with many different types of saunas, steam rooms, whirlpools, solarium, relaxation areas, ice cave and nine pools. These include an Olympic-sized swimming pool, two children’s pools, the health boosting Blue Diamond pool and three outdoor pools for relaxation and fun at any time of year – especially good in winter when snow is on the ground and outside temperatures plummet below freezing!
A new range of spa treatments is currently being developed, but in the meantime you can have an excellent one-hour massage for less than $20. AquaCity’s most famous treatment is cryotherapy – a sensational experience that costs just $20 a session and is carried out in a state-of-the-art glass building under the supervision of a professional doctor and nurse. First, you have a medical consultation and your pulse and blood pressure checked to ensure you are healthy enough to withstand the extreme cold. Then you change into specially treated cotton shorts, T- shirt, knee-length socks and headband, put on clogs and paper face mask and enter what looks like a sauna cabin, but has no seats and is a chilling minus 76ºF! After a minute of foot stamping and arm swinging, you come out, ready to brave an even colder chamber – this time for two minutes at a temperature of minus 184ºF – colder than an Arctic winter! As the chill penetrates, it becomes impossible to move at all. Just when you feel you can’t bear to be in the chamber another second and want to escape, the session ends and you are helped into the gym for 15 minutes brisk exercise to get the circulation going.
Cryotherapy is widely used in Japan and other European countries to relieve joint pain, depression, circulatory and skin problems and to boost stamina, potency and detox the immune system. There is even anecdotal evidence that it helps slimming by reducing cellulite! Apparently, in the ultra-cold, the brain triggers the release of hormones such as adrenaline, endorphins and testosterone into the blood, so even after a single session, there is a distinct feeling of wellbeing. For longer-lasting benefits a course of several sessions is recommended.
With two excellent well appointed hotels on site, fine dining, cafes, bars and a wealth of activities and places to explore in the resort and the surrounding area, AquaCity is rapidly establishing itself as a popular and innovative spa destination. However, Telensky is not content to rest on his laurels and plans further ambitious enhancements by 2008, with more thermal pools and leisure facilities including a tropical beach with water skiing and thermal pools under giant bubbles surrounded by tropical gardens, designed on the lines of the UK’s Eden-Project. The sauna center will be doubled in size with more treatments and therapists – and everything will be entirely energy self-sufficient.