The tradition of water cures goes back to the 19th century in Réunion. Today, from the Cilaos thermal baths to the charming hotels boasting spas and other thalassotherapy centres, health is restored using water, mineral water or sea water. Tropical scents (vanilla, coconut, ylang-ylang, geranium, etc.) combine sensual pleasures with wellbeing.
Cilaos thermal baths
Although only one thermal spa remains on the island, that was not always the case. In the 19th century, anyone who was anyone came to take the waters in the thermal baths of the cirque de Salazie and that of Cilaos. In Salazie, a casino was even built to entertain spa-goers! The devastating cyclone of 1948 closed the spa permanently. The thermal baths of Cilaos, located at an altitude of nearly 1,200 metres, survived that era. Opened in 1897, the spa offered treatments for gout, rheumatism and even hysteria, through sweating, massages and Scottish showers. The cyclone of 1948 also closed down the thermal baths until 1988, when the actual spa was opened under the name Irénée Accot (after a former mayor of Cilaos, who brought about this revival). Two sources of natural mineral water fed the baths: the Véronique source and the Irénée source.
Their total mineralisation is between 1,200 and 1,700 mg. per litre. This high mineralisation rate is due to the rich heritage of the past, as the minerals were accumulated when passing through the deep layers of the earth. As a result, the springs are known for their ability to prevent and treat metabolic and digestive diseases, in addition to rheumatism and arthritis. The thermal baths are also open to those who dream about restoring their health, thanks to a range of treatments (Jacuzzi or hydromassage bath, sauna, jet showers, seaweed wraps, etc.) worthy of the best spas.
For visitors who prefer thalassotherapy, there are many such centres along the coast: seawater, sand, sea mud and seaweed form the basis of the treatments providing the body with trace elements and mineral salts. Marine treatments are often combined with a spa area, specially dedicated to beauty and relaxation, all in an atmosphere reminiscent of the sea, in harmony with the nearby beaches. At Saint-Gilles, the Thalatropic centre offers a range of treatments in direct communion with the nearby ocean !
Sanitas per aqua: health by water. The acronym “spa” refers to balneotherapy and, more generally nowadays, places of relaxation and well-being. They can be found, in particular, in the island’s most beautiful hotels, which are open to tourists and residents alike. They can also be found in independent spa centres and are often associated with a recognised cosmetic brand. In a refined atmosphere conducive to relaxation, various methods are used to favour health and fitness. A charming hotel with couples’ treatments is a good idea for a romantic trip or honeymoon... It is the ideal honeymoon gift for newlyweds !
For completely new sensations, opt for treatments using local resources: vanilla, geranium, coconut, ylang-ylang, etc. The island’s tea-makers (tisaneurs) have known the benefits of the péi (local) plants for ages: mixtures known to heal particular ailments can sometimes be found in the marketplace, although nothing beats professional expertise ! Lastly, if you enjoy more stimulating activities, the island has no shortage of places where you can improve your fitness: from A for aquabiking to Z for zumba, there is something for everyone.