Health tourism and wellness on the island of Gran Canaria

It has always been said that the volcanic nature of the Canaries has made the Fortunate Islands an ideal place to heal wounds, both in the body and in the mind. Perhaps this is true, as many companies have set to work to create one of the best networks of health tourism in Spain.

Although this can be created artificially, there is nothing like having the perfect natural setting. Gran Canaria has a pleasant climate all year round, a healthy and balanced cuisine, sea, mountains, green areas and the water of the Atlantic. In other words, it lacks nothing to provide healthy relaxation to its visitors.

These were the main attractions observed by hotel entrepreneurs at the beginning of the new millennium, deciding to turn Gran Canaria into a famous European stronghold of health and wellness tourism.

A few years ago I was lucky enough to experience first hand the healing power of various facilities on the island, so here I leave you – at a time when health has been presented to us as something of the utmost importance worldwide – some secrets and recommendations for you to make the most of the benefits of the best spas in Gran Canaria.

Although I’ll start by leaving you the list of spas I tried in Gran Canaria. All of them of great quality.

Photo © David Escribano

The best spas in Gran Canaria

And now that I have told you a little about the different techniques and treatments you can try, it is time to advise you on some of the best spas in Gran Canaria:

Corallium Spa & Thalasso, Hotel Lopesan Costa Meloneras Resort: I’ve never been to a spa as complete as this before. No less than 3,500 square meters of pools, saunas, ice rooms, caverns filled with sea water, Turkish baths… Without a doubt, it’s the best spa in Gran Canaria.
Gloria Palace San Agustín Thalasso & Hotel: this spa’s main star is its complete water circuit. Perfect for those who suffer from rheumatism, arthritis and circulatory problems.
Corallium Thalasso, Hotel Lopesan Villa del Conde: another spa in a hotel of the Lopesan group, which never disappoints. A very good point in its favour is its magnificent terrace/solarium which is next to its indoor swimming pool. It is elevated, directly over the sea and a pebble beach. A totally relaxing view.
Seaside Grand Hotel Residence: this luxurious corner of Maspalomas, where Spanish presidents and stars like Bruce Springsteen have stayed, has a small and exclusive spa with a variety of massages and health treatments.
Spa Inagua (Hotel Cordial Mogán Playa): Although the small Inagua spa meets the requirements of its tenants, the hotel Cordial Mogán Playa has a complementary charm in the form of a native botanical garden (with more than 10 species of cactus from the islands) and a natural environment perfect for finding peace and reflection.

Spa at the Lopesan Villa del Conde Hotel. Photo © David Escribano

As for the treatments you can enjoy in the spas of Gran Canaria, these are some of the most common:

Thalassotherapy in the spas of Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria is one of the most important centres of thalassotherapy in Europe, based on treatments with sea water -between 33 and 37 degrees Celsius- and marine supplements (algae and mud), which enable the human body to absorb elements such as iodine, sulphur, calcium and magnesium, which alleviate the lack of mineral salts caused by stress and fatigue. Thalassotherapy is very beneficial in relieving conditions such as rheumatism, arthritis, bone and muscle problems, and respiratory problems.

Water circuits in Gran Canaria’s spas

In the salt pool of the Corallium Spa of the Lopesan Costa Meloneras.

Many spas in Gran Canaria have heated facilities, such as the Finnish sauna, the infrared sauna and the steam rooms, where you can enjoy a sweat bath to stimulate intense perspiration and release toxins from the body.

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However, the presence of a water circuit allows you to alternate these treatments with wet facilities including hydrotherapy pools, salt pools and immersion pools. Of these, the one I found most fun was the salt pool, in which you float as if you were in the Dead Sea itself.

When you combine these facilities into a water circuit therapy, you can enjoy the benefits of hydrotherapy and contrast therapy. Simply put, you use water and temperature contrast.

A good water circuit in the spas of Gran Canaria can be the following:

Relax in a pool of warm salt for 5 to 10 minutes.
Enjoy a sweat bath in the steam room for 10 minutes.
Dive into the pool of cold water for one minute (it will seem like forever).
Switch to the sauna, to warm up for 10 more minutes and promote intense perspiration.
Return to the cold pool for one minute.
After this, you return to the salt pool for about 10 minutes
And finally, you end up with a cold one-minute dip.

And what health benefits might I receive from this strange behavior? Well, each area has its own specific benefit.

Salt pools are wonderful for relaxation, because the high salt content allows you to float effortlessly. In addition, salt can help heal the skin, reduce inflammation, increase pain relief and increase joint mobility.

In the heat of a steam room, you will begin to sweat out all the toxins in your body, which is a great detoxification process. In addition, your heart rate increases and your blood vessels dilate, drawing toxins to the surface of your skin, leaving them ready to be removed. In addition, the smoky atmosphere is of great benefit for respiratory problems, as it lubricates the upper respiratory tract.

When you submerge your body in the cold water during that 60-second shock, the blood vessels contract rapidly in an effort to move the warm blood deeper into the body to keep it warm. When this happens, the oxygen-rich blood is pushed into the deeper tissues.

The sauna, which is a drier and hotter heat than the steam bath, is another technique for re-warming the body, bringing the blood to the surface of the skin and encouraging sweat bathing because of its detoxification benefits due to intense perspiration.

Massages in the spas of Gran Canaria

Massages are another classic of any self-respecting spa. The two most popular massages in Gran Canaria’s spas are the Swedish massage and the deep tissue massage.

Swedish massage usually covers the whole body with firm strokes but without much deep work.

Seguros

Deep tissue massage will use firmer pressure and will also include focused work on areas that are especially stressed.

Another offer of massage that you will find in most of the menus of the spas in Gran Canaria is the aromatherapy massage, which uses essential oils to achieve different purposes, the most common being relaxation. The therapist usually asks you to smell some different oils to find out which one appeals to you the most.

Hot stone massage is another massage that is available at many of the best spas in Gran Canaria.

This type of massage uses soft, rounded basalt stones that have been heated in water and retain their heat well. This heat helps to warm the muscles and is very relaxing.

The therapist uses the stones as an extension of his hand and can also place them on your abdomen, hands or back. When done right, hot stone massage is wonderful, but it is a special skill that not all therapists have, so the quality can vary widely.

Most of the spas in Gran Canaria also have a massage room for couples, where you can receive any of the above massages with your favourite person by your side.

Special massages

Once you’ve tried the basics, you may want to try others, such as Thai massage or reflexology. These also require special training and may not be available everywhere.

In my case, and because of a chronic health problem that affects me, I took a lymphatic drainage one. However, be careful, because this technique is very delicate and can only be performed by real experts.

Another type of massage is the sports massage, which is advisable if you have any pain or restriction due to the practice of your favorite sports activities.

Pregnant women also have their specific treatment in the spas of Gran Canaria, where there are specialists in prenatal massage because there is special training, techniques, precautions and equipment for the future mother.

Finally, a spa can offer a “personalized massage” with an elegant name. Frankly, all massages should be personalized, but they usually say that this massage will draw on the therapist’s full range of massage skills, depending on what the client needs and wants. It is up to you to find out what it is all about and shape it to your needs.

Aromatherapy and Chromotherapy in the spas of Gran Canaria

Aromatherapy is an alternative healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being. It is sometimes called essential oil therapy. Aromatherapy uses aromatic essential oils for medicinal purposes to improve the health of body, mind, and spirit. It improves physical and emotional health. Or so those who practice it believe.

I tried it in two of the spas I visited in Gran Canaria and I must admit that I felt an intense relaxation.

Aromatherapy is considered both an art and a science. Recently, aromatherapy has gained more recognition in the fields of science and medicine.

As for chromotherapy, experts say that environments with a certain color are useful for treating diseases or improving health. I tried it out in one of the special rooms of the Corallium Spa at the Lopesan Costa Meloneras hotel and the truth is that I think I was more relaxed by the quiet, semi-dark atmosphere inside the room than by the application of the faint colors themselves.

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