Adler Spa Resort Thermae, Italy
Sophisticated family-friendly thermal spa in rural Tuscany
Best for: Friends, families and couples looking to deeply relax and take pleasure in the thermal waters.
Not for: Solo travellers who want a health fix but have a tendency to feel lonely surrounded by others who are together.
Adler Spa Resort Thermae is a deeply relaxing family-friendly spa retreat in the Val d’Orcia area of Tuscany set a few minutes walk from the picturesque Roman spa town of Bagno Vignoni. Its centre piece is the large, warm outdoor pool of soothing, healing thermal waters which you can dip and out of throughout your stay, set in calming landscaped gardens and next to a huge pool for proper swimming. There’s also a fabulous indoor-outdoor spa, and a comprehensive spa treatment menu offering pampering, holistic and healing treatments. The surroundings feel sophisticated, but the vibe is beautifully relaxed – dome for a de-stress holiday and enjoy gourmet Italian food in the rooftop restaurant, or make the most of the resident experts and book in for personal one-to-one sessions or a weight loss or detox programme. It’s popular in the summer, but would make a soothing break all year round, most especially for long weekends if you’re in Europe (fly to Pisa, Rome or Florence and hire a car or arrange for transfers).
Lingering late over breakfast in the elegant rooftop restaurant after everyone has gone, sipping green tea from our Villeroy & Boch china tea cup, writing, dreaming and soaking up the view of the Tuscan hills through an open window. And in the spa – spending a good while in the ‘Artemisia’ herb-infused steam room, which has gorgeously smooth throne-like seats and an intriguing blue and cream stain glass window design of earth fissures in the ceiling.
There isn’t any attempt here to limit people smoking. Our early morning yoga practice on our balcony was marred a couple of times by our neighbours smoking on their terrace below, and there were people occasionally smoking around the thermal pool.
Come to relax and indulge or go deeper and get healthier.
The central attraction here is the indoor-outdoor mineral-laden thermal water pool, which has jets and bubbles that go on and off on a cycle – bathe daily for as long as you want to help boost your immune system, cleanse your skin, re-oxygenate your muscles, improve your breathing and generally feed your whole system. Near this main thermal pool, there’s the Grotta Salina – a heavily salted bath in which to float and cleanse for 15 minutes which you book and pay for separately. Then there are some lovely hot and cold options at the extensive, tawny-coloured, light-filled spa. In an outdoor attractive quadrangle exclusive to adults you can use a hot, dark steam room based in a little grotto and a fabulous wooded sauna with a natural cold plunge pool beside it. Inside, sort your lungs out in the breath-clearing steam room infused with salt, or relax gently in the ‘Artemisia’ herb-infused steam room (our favourite).
The treatment menu has everything from vinotherapie, hydrotherapy, osteopathy and physiotherapy to bodywork such as Watsu, Shiatsu, Thai and Tui Na and Ayurveda consultations and massages. Pampering, beautifying body treatments and facials use Adler’s own spa products, which are preservative and chemical free and draw on the natural benefits of red grapes, milk, honey and olive oil, and there’s an aesthetic medical spa menu for skin treatments to sort out problem areas such as wrinkles and stretch marks if you so choose. You can even get your hair cut. Therapists vary in approach. We particularly recommend Dr Babu, the resident ayurvedic doctor from Kerala, who had soft strong hands and a perfect nurturing touch.
An elegant medical doctor, Stefania Mazzieri, offers general check-ups and holistic medicine such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, cell nutrition consultations, acupuncture and homeopathy, and there are other experts to help with specific issues such as back pain or arthritis. The team can oversee various tests for stress, food or gluten intolerance, and these tests are processed on site for quicker results. You can also choose a range of ADLER MED programmes which focus on detox or weight loss and include check-ups, treatments, group and private activity sessions such as breathing and personal training, though note this isn’t the place to come if you want to lose weight and have no willpower, as everyone eats together in the same (very lovely) restaurant (though those following a detox or weight loss programme are seated in an area of the restaurant far away from the temptations of the buffet).
There’s a very large ‘cool pool’ to swim in, the perfect temperature for lengths, and with a rather fun fast-water circuit. You can work out in a well equipped gym, book private sessions in personal training, Pilates and yoga, and there’s a daily programme of activities anyone can dip in and out of, from yogic breathing in the thermal water to nordic walking, hydro biking, circuits, Pilates and abdominal workouts. Two running machines are cleverly set outside so you can pound away whilst enjoying a soothing Tuscan view of Cypress trees and hills, there are bikes and e-bikes free of charge for guests and plenty of walking and running trails – use the hotel’s special walking and biking apps as your guide. Horse riding can be arranged for adults and children, either as guided riding groups or private one-to-one lessons, and both learners and advanced riders can be accommodated.
You can take a weekly cooking class with a local “mamma” who teaches guests how to prepare typical Tuscan dishes, at the organic winery, Tenuta Sanoner, next door to the resort. The charming Roman spa town of Bagno Vignoni is a few minutes walk away and has cobbled streets, boutique shops, a central historic tank to view and some good restaurants. There are small (free) trips to see local wine, saffron and olive oil estates, go truffle hunting in season, walk to the local castle of Spedaletto, and so on. Siena is just an hour’s drive away.
The hotel offers 7 day Panchakarma cleansing or Ayurvedic regeneration programmes led by Dr Nahrenda Babu, an Ayurveda doctor originally from Bangalore who has been the doctor in residence here for over eight years. You can choose a light programme of Ayurveda massages and treatments, indulging in the Italian food and wine, or go for a complete tailor-made detox programme and holistically regenerate body and mind. Programmes encourage you to use the thermal waters and surrounding nature to relax you, and there are complementary daily yoga group sessions.
No need to pack an extra bag – you’ll get a natty slate-grey bag to keep all your bits in throughout your stay which are one of the best we’ve come across at a spa retreat – big enough to carry whatever you need, strong enough to stand upright, waterproof, yet still stylish.
When to Go
Val d’Orcia enjoys a temperate climate, with the mildest weather occuring in April, May, June, September and October. July and August are the hottest months, when temperatures hit the high 80s/early 90s; November to March can be cool, but also a great time to experience the thermal pools of the hotel. The busiest months tend to be April until the start of November.
The indulgent Italian fare here is seriously good. In the spa there are bowls of apples available and sachets of Adler’s own blend of herbal teas but other than that, food is quite an elaborate affair. Do ask if you want specially tailored weight loss, detox or healthy eating options.
Breakfast is a sumptuous buffet that can be as indulgent or healthy as you want, from champagne and chocolate pancakes to egg white omelettes and a pear, carrot and ginger juice you can make yourself at a juicing station. It lacked anything green on our visit (apart from the celery on the juicing station) but when we asked they happily provided steamed local spinach with our omelette.
Lunch (in the restaurant during cooler months or in the poolside Osteria during the summer) is a salad buffet with home made morsels such as pizza, quiches and Tuscan specialities (the olive alternative to the scotch egg was quite something) to start with followed by daily changing fish, meat and pasta options depending on how hungry you are. The bar serves basic snacks (such as a cheese and ham toastie – though on our visit white bread was the only option).
Dinner is the main event, served from 730 to 930 pm – if you’re used to eating earlier, be sure to secure a snack in the afternoon. Menus are gourmet Italian and change daily, with a seriously impressive salad, vegetable, meat and cheese buffet to help yourself to and dozens of glorious puddings (chocolate fountain, tiramasu, light pistachio mousse, you get the picture – and you’ll find it hard to resist). Savoury dishes are expertly prepared, beautifully served and purely Mediterranean, using fish and meat sourced seasonally and locally wherever possible such as king prawn with herbs, veal carpaccio, salt cod and truffle wholemeal roll and charred fillet of sea bream with dill. There’s a sprinkling of vegetarian options, such as asparagus cream soup followed by rice timbale with tofu, vegetables and pinenut pesto. Naturally there’s an extensive wine menu (our favourite house white? The St Quirinus Sauvignon Blanc Bio 2014). Children can eat at 7pm with you in the elegant rooftop restaurant, or in the kids club with other children.
Adler Thermae uses the naturally occurring warm thermal water to heat the main lap pool. Wherever possible, it uses local and organic food products, and produces its own organic wine and olive oil. They use ecological cleaning products. Each year they invest in staff training, encouraging staff to take language classes and extend their skills, and they have a very high level of staff retention as a result.
They use ecological cleaning products. Each year they invest in staff training, encouraging staff to take language classes and extend their skills, and they have a very high level of staff retention as a result.
Hotel ADLER Thermae Spa & Relax Resort
Strada di Bagno Vignoni
53057 San Quirico d’Orcia
Siena | Italy
Perugia 100km, but also Florence (150 km), Pisa (197 km), Rome (210 km)
Transfer Time: 90 minutes to Perugia, 1 hour 45 minutes to Florence, 2 hours 15 minutes to Pisa, 2 hours 40 minutes to Rome