First and foremost, call them. Melia Coral is a big hotel, and if all the guests come to the wellness area at the same time it would be similar to a bus stop on a rainy tropical day, rather than a relaxing space – so book in advance. Just pick up the phone in your room and dial 11027 to let them know you are coming. If you’re lucky ( I was) they might tell you that it is ok to come down straight away. Wonderful. Put on your soft white bathrobe, slip into the slippers and off to the wellness. You might come across people in robes wandering the hotel at all hours – wellness opens at 8 AM and is open until 9 PM every day – give them a courteous nod and smile. They know how to live.
At wellness reception, you get all the instructions and a towel or a sheet to wrap yourself in for the sauna. Slippers are left at the door because once you go past the massive, soundproof door the floor is wet and you’d be better off in flip-flops. I chose barefoot. The sauna is cosy. At the time I got there, there were 3-4 people there, so I had to go to the top bunk. Now, if you’ve never been to a Finnish sauna, be warned, temperatures go up to 80 °C, and the high bunk is always the hottest, as the hot air rises towards the ceiling.
For the first time, start low, then climb if you feel confident. However well you cope with the heat, do not exceed your sauna time of 15 minutes, as it might be too hard on your body. Enough warnings, let’s schwitz. Let those toxins out of your body, along with the excess water. When the time is up, get out, turn left and slowly lower yourself into the pool of freezing water. Screaming is optional – but swimming trunks are not.
If you’re not the pool type, straight across there are a Kneipp bath and a cave looking shower, to the same effect: jump-starting your heart and keeping you alert. Now go lie down for a bit. Bring a book, or don’t, cause you might doze off tired from all that healthy strain on your body. Repeat up to 3 times. When done medium well, walk to one of the massage or ritual booths.
When it comes to massage, I was always in the no-pain-no-gain club, but you don’t have to suffer when being massaged – wellness is about your pleasure and relaxation, so tell your masseuse or a masseur how hard you want to be squeezed and rubbed. Choose the oils you like – hell, when already there, why not try the hot stones massage or get a body peeling with some Adriatic salt and algae. It will make your skin feel so soft and clean; you’ll come back in a few days just to feel that soft again. Have a drink of water, tea or fruit juice – you’ll find them laid out next to the pool, on one of the marble consoles. Hydration is key to well being.
For those of you not really in the mood for a massage, do not skip the whirlpool. Jets of water under pressure can do wonders in relaxing your muscles and body, as buoyancy takes the load of your bones and joints and you float. Soooo relaxingggg (that’s me trying to talk while in a whirlpool).