No matter how often I said that I really need a break, that I’m tired and that I need a weekend of doing nothing but sleeping, I rarely made all those wishes come true. It seems as if this winter has been too long because sometime around Valentine’s Day instead of feeling the love, I felt overwhelmed and exhausted and I couldn’t stop thinking about my friend and her being able to find some time just for herself despite living in a big, bustling city. And so instead of romance at home I chose romance in a wellness centre, with two of my close friends.
The two of them single and me married/in a relationship or whatever you call a union concluded in an idyllic setting at the Caribbean (I’m saying this just to show you the level of hedonism I aim at), we headed towards the sunny Istria, passing through the snow-covered Gorski kotar to reach the land of excellent restaurants and even better spa zones. A romantic girls’ weekend started in Novigrad, a small town in Northwest Istria, once known for the lowest surtax in Croatia (I don’t know if the crisis has destroyed that as well), with tourism intact and blooming even during the winter.
The Maestral Hotel is located right by the sea, not far from the town, and it has plenty of running and cycling trails, something I, a recreational runner, have increasingly cared about over the last year. Although it was winter, the hotel was quite booked and that immediately made us think that we won’t be able to fully relax in the 2500 m2 wellness zone (yes, women do tend to exaggerate). However, our fear turned out to be completely unfounded because in addition to the 25-meter-long swimming pool, a spacious gym and several Istrian stone saunas overlooking the town, we have discovered a small oasis in the midst of this paradise – the Lalande VIP spa zone for two, or in our case for three.
I don’t know what I enjoyed more; the hot tub we jumped in right after the Finnish sauna and a cold shower, the sparkling wine cooling on the side, the heated water bed or the Tibetan bowl treatment. I have never heard of this treatment but I was drawn by the exotic name. I soon learned that it is a sound therapy within which a therapist uses circular movements to create an incredibly meditating sound and vibrations bringing you mind and body to instant state of relaxation. I can’t tell you exactly what happened next because I fell asleep after only a few minutes. And I woke up feeling reborn. The treatment can last 30 or 60 minutes and it doesn’t appeal equally to everyone. While Ana and I enjoyed every minute of it, Maja was more keen on relaxing in the hot tub. But everyone was happy and satisfied.
After several hours spent in this paradise, there is a big chance that you’ll be ready to go straight to bed, but luckily, we had a table reservation in Marina, one of the best Novigrad restaurants which recently joined Jeunes Restaurateurs d’Europe and whose chef is the young and utterly talented Marina Gaši. We were once again enjoying ourselves, delighting in the 10 courses of culinary specialties and a few less glasses of wine, just the right amount not to make the hotel wellness pleasures go to waste but to still fully enjoy our first day of relaxation.