Our sleuth investigates the curative claims of wellbeing retreats worldwide. This week: the newly renovated Hotel Park, first built in 1921 on the shores of the Adriatic in Split, Croatia
The 72-room Hotel Park is the only hotel in Split's residential Bačvice neighbourhood, two minutes walk from the popular Bačvice beach and 10 minutes from the city's old town with its Roman palace and labyrinth of narrow streets. It was completely renovated in a 10 million euro refurbishment in 2015 and is now an elegant modern hotel with a large terrace and pool looking down towards the sea and the islands of Brač and Šolta.
The Park's Priska Spa is open to guests and visitors from outside the hotel. As well as three private treatment rooms there is a 'salt room' for relaxation, three manicure stations and a wide variety of massages and beauty treatments offered.
Spy asks for the most relaxing treatment possible and is recommended the 'Tranquility Aromatic Beauty Ritual', which lasts for 75 minutes (700 kn/92 euros/£76) and is, the spa manager says, a soothing massage with floral oils. It sounds more up Spy's street than the 'Oriental Ceremony', which starts with a 'spicy exfoliation' and is apparently more suited to those with very stiff muscles.
Spy starts her spa tour by checking herself into the salt room, a small, windowless space where the walls are covered in salt crystals. Spy reclines on a very comfortable lounger for 15 minutes, hoping to experience the positive effects of halotherapy, which is supposed to be good for the lungs and circulation.
Waiting for her massage, Spy admires the framed pictures of the hotel in the Thirties and almost drifts off to the sound of crickets singing a soporific chant outside. The massage itself is nothing extraordinary but it is truly relaxing: Spy's whole body is gently smoothed with oil and delicious smelling creams are worked into her face in a most delightful way.
The feel-good factor
There's a focus on business customers at the Park, which has a conference hall, several meeting rooms and offers single 'business rooms' with views of the city, rather than the sea. However the temptations of the sumptuous sunbeds outside are myriad: cooling towels are brought round at frequent intervals; an outside bar serves delicious cocktails and snacks; a DJ plays laid-back house music from early evening and - best of all - the sunbeds afford a calm perspective over the pool, far removed from the packed and noisy beach and sea beyond.
The Park's rooms are also extremely comfortable, with all the amenities expected of a luxury hotel including a 'pillow menu', wifi and excellent room service. Unusually, they are also 'pet-friendly'.
Inside the hotel, Spy feels at all times well-fed, relaxed and well cared for. It's a welcome retreat from the busy streets and beaches of Split at the height of summer season, and well worth paying for.
The Park Hotel is a 30 minute drive from Split airport. Prices vary according to season but expect prices of around 196 euros/night for a single room; 276 euros for a double standard; 600 for a sea-facing junior suite. hotelpark-split.hr