A tradition of wellness on the islands

The long menu of options at the luxurious Mare Nostrum Spa in Tenerife includes hydrotherapy, aromatherapy and chocolate therapy. How very modern, you might think. After all, we're living in a time when no major hotel worth its Dead Sea salt seems complete without some kind of treatment centre. Don't be fooled into thinking that this penchant for pampering is a newfangled fad, though. In the Canaries, wellness tourism is as old as tourism itself.

The Victorians were convinced there was something in the water. In the mid-1800s, word spread that the Canary Islands' mineral-rich springs, mild climate and stimulating breezes worked wonders on ailments of the nerves, lungs and digestive system. Soon, rumours of miracle cures began to circulate. The British shipping magnate and banana importer Alfred Lewis Jones, a polymath with an active interest in tropical medicine, set about turning the trend to profit by selling passenger tickets for the passage from Canary Wharf in London to Gran Canaria aboard his cargo vessel

Today, the health benefits of the islands are endorsed by elite sports teams, who head here to train or (in the case of IronMan Lanzarote contenders) cycle up and down volcanoes.

Wellness treatments remain hugely popular, with long-established hotels sprucing themselves up with cutting-edge spas. The Mencey (00 34 922 609 900; iberostar.com ) in Santa Cruz de Tenerife has one underway. Meanwhile, the Aloe Spa at the Sheraton Salobre (00 34 928 943 000; sheratonsalobre.com ), Gran Canaria, is one of the most glamorous recent additions to the Canarian wellness scene.

For something low-key, you can bliss out in the tranquil surroundings of Casa Tomarén (00 34 660 404 079; tomaren.com ) in rural Lanzarote, where private yoga lessons are available for €40 per hour. On La Gomera, Finca Argayall (00 34 922 697 008; argayall.com ), a beautiful new-age retreat base on a sparkling bay, hosts easy-going yoga weeks (£460 including meals but not flights through Free Spirit Travel; 01273 564 230; freespirituk.com ). Meanwhile, the Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahia Real (00 34 928 53 64 44; freespirituk.com ) on Fuerteventura contains the Bahia Vital Spa, with 17 treatment areas Turkish baths and a spacious gym.

Elsewhere, treatment centres offer everything from seaweed masks to fruit wraps – just as you might expect from an archipelago that welcomed its first tourists ashore from boats that returned laden with bananas.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Print Designer - High Wycombe - Permanent £28K

    £25000 - £28000 per annum + 24 days holiday, bonus, etc.: Ashdown Group: Print...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

    £20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager

    £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager required for ...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator

    £25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator A...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent