On the western verge of the Upper Rhine Valley, only a few kilometres away from the French border, spa water from the Petronella-Quelle spring seethes 450 metres below Bad Bergzabern, feeding the Südpfalz Therme thermal bath with therapeutic sodium chloride water.
From the visitors’ parking lot to the Südpfalz Therme spa entrance you walk past the “Haus des Gastes” (house of the guest), which is the event centre of the spa premises. A walk along the bungalow architecture is like traveling through time—back to the 1980s. However, there are no Opel Mantas or Volkswagen Santanas at the car park, but modern cars—a remarkable number of them with French or far-off German number plates. People from far beyond the region come to Bad Bergzabern to enjoy the health effects of the water and the various treatments offered at the spa facilities.
Sandra Reichenbacher hustles and bustles through the spa entrance area—in a cheerful mood and very energetic. The managing director is running around again at a mile a minute. The beginning of the year is one of busiest times for the thermal bath. “After the Christmas holidays, people feel the need to do something good for themselves and their bodies and to start the new year with renewed energy. The last week of the winter holidays is particularly busy. Apart from that, tomorrow will be the first long sauna night of the year; a few hundred visitors are expected to make use of this offer.”
A lot has changed since the Staatsbad (national bath) opened in the 1970s. People used to stay for a few weeks back then. “A stay at a health resort for a month was commonplace. Doctors used to prescribe such stays like hot cakes and insurance companies paid for it. At weekends the entire family would come to visit,” says Sandra. The graduated business manager however only remembers this slow, golden health resort age from her childhood and from the stories that older guests, who have been loyal to the spa for a long time, tell her. Today, the industry has become a fast-moving business.
“Leisure has gained a lot of importance nowadays. Our life has become very hectic. Our guests schedule their breaks specifically and carefully. They come here to unwind and to enhance physical well being. We witness a shift from classic therapy towards a wellness-oriented lifestyle and health-conscious living.” However, the five pillars of health according toprogenitor Sebastian Kneipp remain highly topical, even if Magic Flower Yoga starts to steal a march on the traditional fango pack. Therapeutic treatment with water, exercise, healthy nutrition, natural remedy and a good balance between work and relaxation are just as important in 2019 as they were in 1953—the year Bad Bergzabern was awarded the status of Kneipp health resort.