by Deirdre Frost…
The Black Forest National Park is one of the famous primeval woodlands in the state of Baden-Württemberg in southwest Germany. With extensive habitats for many plants and wildlife species, this stunning treasure borders the Rhine Valley and is the sanctuary of ancient trees that is filled with folklore. These gentle, giant spruce trees loom upwards to the heavens, providing an aura of tranquility that add to the Black Forest mystique.
A perfect place to start exploring is driving on the Schwarzwaldhochstrasse road to Baden-Baden to look across the Rhine Valley to the Vosges mountain range. Over the weekend, my partner and I drive to the Naturepark Schwarzwald for hiking in the Black Forest.
From the Naturepark, we take the Merkur Funicular Railway up the steepest incline in Europe, rising 2,191 feet to the Mercury Mountain summit and discover a votive stone dedicated to the Roman god. We climb the Mercury Tower and enjoy the panoramic views of the Baden-Baden basin, the highest mountains in the north of the Black Forest, and the local towns and villages that border on Germany and France.
This spectacular setting, this culturally rich environment, takes on a persona of its own that takes its inspiration from the wilds of nature. This place transforms into a Land of Oz where, like Dorothy, we take a scenic route to reach the magical place of Baden-Baden. Amidst this splendor, we are drawn to the surrounding beauty of the forests and feel at ease as we experience the fine arts and spas that this famous resort town offers.
We view an art exhibition on American abstract expressionism at the Museum Frieder Burda and later enjoy fine dining at the DER KLEINE PRINZ Hotel restaurant. At this boutique hotel, we enjoy the elegant, charming images of The Little Prince by the French writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and the lovely vintage chandeliers that highlight the interior decor.
From our rooms, we have magnificent views of the town church’s twin spires where the ringing bells give a rhythm to people’s lives here. From the town center, we walk towards the popular thermal baths of the Caracalla Spa and Friedrichsbad. After our visit, we enjoy lunch at Café König where we try the local specialties and indulge in the delicious confectionary delights with coffee. We then promenade through the gardens and arboretum on the fashionable Lichtentaler Allee and look out at fields of tiny snowdrops under the magnificent trees as we follow the rushing waters of the river Oos.
In a beautiful garden setting near the Lichtentaler Allee, we discover the Villa Stéphanie at Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa that has an exquisite reputation for optimizing health and wellness. Upon arrival, we are greeted and escorted to a beautifully designed salon to feel like a small country house with modern abstract art that is both soothing and relaxing.
At this exclusive retreat, we have access to this full-service spa that includes private treatment rooms and sauna, along with a plunge pool, private gym, and outdoor exercises in an inner courtyard. Just above the treatment rooms are fifteen luxury suites and rooms that are conveniently located to the spa facilities and the Brenners pool.
Guests have access to the amenities at the hotel and enjoy custom-made menus that are developed by the spa’s seven nutritionists. During our visit, we have aromatherapy body treatments that are deeply invigorating before going for a leisurely swim in the spacious heated pool with stunning views of the gardens and the Lichtentaler Allee.
Villa Stéphanie offers co-ed and private sauna, as well as beauty, detox and nutrition, emotional balance and medical care. The seven-day detox program includes a complete medical review, body and metabolism analysis, 8 spa treatments, exercises, along with nutritional guidance with a customized menu.
In offering integrated programs to health, one of the innovative programs is the Digital Detox that consists of a holistic approach for sleeping deeper every night in the Villa’s special rooms. Guests have the option to press a button to disconnect from tech gadgets and create a sanctuary completely free of e-smog, electricity or Wifi. The technologically advanced copper plates in the wall and a special paint finish enable guests to flick a switch to be digitally-free and improve the quality of sleep.
Villa Stéphanie is the perfect haven to seek out natural well being and includes aesthetic medicine, dentistry ophthalmology and other programs that are individualized to each guest. After spending time at this 5-star resort, we feel recharged and ready to visit the legendary town casino.
Having a rich cultural history, Baden-Baden has become a premier destination that has attracted individuals to seek the natural beauty of the Black Forest and to revel in the cultural delights of the town. This dynamic, cosmopolitan place has evolved into a world-class resort and a center for wellness and medical care. As a popular getaway, it attracts not only the sophisticated and wealthy but also appeals to diverse groups of individuals who come for relaxation, culture and outdoor activities.
Information on visiting Baden-Baden.