Stuart Forster reports from the Hotel Palacio and Banyan Tree Spa in Estoril, Portugal.
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The Hotel Palacio and Banyan Tree Spa is 25 kilometres west of Lisbon in Estoril, a town which has long been regarded among Europe’s elite destinations.
Prior to World War Two Estoril was known as a seaside resort frequented by royalty. Many members of royal families stayed at the 5-star Hotel Palacio, which opened in 1930.
King Juan Carlos I of Spain spent time in Estoril during his formative years. The Royal Gallery, on the ground floor of the hotel, hosts a permanent collection of photographs and memorabilia illustrating its patronage by European royalty.
Estoril as a seaside resort
During the interwar period two visionaries, Fausto Cardoso Figueiredo and Augusto Carreira de Souza, set out to establish Estoril as one of the continent’s leading resorts, investing to create an attractive seaside destination with parkland, a casino and a promenade overlooking Tamariz beach.
The Sud Express ran to Estoril from Paris, helping establish it as an exclusive, desirable holiday destination in the era prior to popular air travel.
It’s said that spies used the hotel during the war; an association that the hotel now celebrates. The menu in Bar Estoril alludes to wartime visits by people such as Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond. Waiters within the subtly lit bar wear white jackets and bow ties and wouldn’t look out of place in a 007 movie. In fact, the hotel’s pool was used as one of the sets in the Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and you can sit by it while eating lunch on the airy Bougainvillea Terrace.
An underground link to Estoril Wellness Center
The purpose-built Estoril Wellness Center stands adjacent to the hotel, which is a member of the Great Hotels of the World and Small Luxury Hotels of the World organisations. The two buildings are and linked by a subterranean corridor, enabling hotel guests to access the Banyan Tree Spa without wandering through the lobby and then across the car park.
The spa opened in April 2010 and has a tranquil atmosphere. The scent of essential oils and minimalist Oriental decor play a role in making the spa sensual, relaxing and exotic. Packages range from a 90-minute long ‘Banyan Hand Basic’ manicure and nail treatment to the ‘Banyan Day’ combination (including a body scrub, facial, massage, lunch plus a pedicure or manicure).
Despite Portugal and Europe’s continuing economic woes, there’s demand for luxury spa treatments. The packages on offer here target men as well as women.
Estoril’s Banyan Tree Spa
The spa’s therapists are trained at the Banyan Tree Spa Academies in Phuket and Bintan. They apply their massage techniques in a calming, pleasant environment. The massage benches are decked with warm-coloured fabrics. Couples can enjoy therapies together in the twin massage room. Nothing is rushed, helping exude a sense of calmness and wellbeing.
The Termas do Estoril occupies the two upper stories of the building. The Termas do Estoril is a clinic making use of the region’s thermal waters to provide hydrology treatments for ailments including sprains and sinusitis.
Water from the Sintra Mountains
The water gushes out of the ground at 34°C and, in bygone days, its therapeutic properties led locals to term it as ‘holy’ due to its perceived healing powers. Portugal’s King Jose I took advantage of Estoril’s waters in 1775. As it flows from the Sintra Mountains, the water picks up minerals and heat.
The Termas do Estoril hosts a pool, jacuzzi, sauna and Turkish bath. It also has a health club and a gym staffed with training instructors who speak good English.
The Hotel Palacio is well-situated for taking strolls along the promenade overlooking the nearby Tamariz beach and in the Casino Park, the home of Casino Estoril.
For room rates and details of special offers, see the Hotel Palacio website.
For more about the surrounding area see Cascais website.
The Visit Portugal site has more about the country as a whole.
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