Following substantial development and investment over recent years, the Hungarian National Tourist Office is positioning Hungary as the ‘spa capital’ of Europe. Spa resorts throughout the country are targeting overseas visitors to enjoy the country’s greatest natural asset, and not just for medical reasons but also for general relaxation and pleasure.1,300 thermal springs have been discovered in Hungary around 100 of which are in Budapest. Already a popular city break for visitors from the United Kingdom, Budapest’s spa resorts such as the Margaret Island Thermal Hotel are firmly established among the UK travel trade.
However, as the infrastructure around Hungary’s unspoilt countryside has been developed, so have the many hundreds of natural thermal springs, with several new resorts and attractions having either been renovated or opened this year (see below).
Gabor Tarr, director of the HNTO in London explains: “The concept of a ‘spa’ in the UK tends to be one of pampering rather than medicinal, and for many British and European visitors the prospect of a true thermal spa can be intimidating. Yet with more and more disorders being ‘stress-related’, a spa holiday of this nature has never been more appropriate for many. Through our marketing programme, we are going to communicate the virtues of our wonderful waters and encourage over-worked, stressed people to visit our country, become rejuvenated and relaxed, and at the same time enriched by our country’s cultural heritage.”
The HNTO will be running an ongoing public relations programme to raise awareness of its spa resorts and also include them within the advertising campaign, featured on London Underground, buses and television advertising.
Key Spa Resorts and Regions
When oil prospectors hit thermal water at 58 degrees rather than oil some thirty years ago, rapid development turned a sleepy settlement into an important spa region and today, following further investment, Buk - around 15 miles from the Austrian border - is one of Hungary’s most successful Spa Resorts. With Central Europe’s largest golf course and many interesting excursions close by, Buk is likely to appeal to British visitors as an all-round holiday destination.
The small town of Sarvar is close to Lake Balaton, Hungary’s ‘Riviera’ and located on what used to be the estate of one of Hungary’s most aristocratic families. With a new spa hotel, and the river Raba running through the town, Sarvar combines water sports with spa to make a highly attractive break.
Hungary’s best known spa town outside of Budapest is on the north-western tip of Lake Balaton by Europe’s largest thermal lake, Lake Heviz. Also a spa in Roman times, the water in Heviz is a constant 33-34 degrees centigrade in the summer, and never falls below 26 degrees in the winter. The spa hotel has undergone renovations this year.
New Aqua Park at Zalaegerszeg
In July, Central Europe’s biggest ‘aqua park’ opened. The park, based in Western Hungary at Zalaegerszeg, caters for 4500 visitors, with huge pools for both adults and children, and it is estimated that in excess of 250,000 visitors have already passed through. Just a few miles from Heviz, Lake Balaton and numerous excursions including one of the most beautiful Baroque mansions in the country, Festetics Mansion, the Aqua Park will be a major draw for visitors wishing to explore the Hungarian countryside.