I was invited to stay at the Grand Hotel Trieste & Victoria as a guest of the hotel, and while I did not pay for my stay or spa treatments, all opinions in this post are my own. Thanks so much to the hotel for a top-notch stay!
After a week of hiking in the Dolomites, my sore muscles and I were really looking forward to two nights at the five-star Grand Hotel Trieste & Victoria, a wonderful Abano Terme hotel. The town of Abano Terme is known for its wellness hotels and spa treatments because of the mud and thermal waters in the surrounding Euganean Hills, and with two full days booked, I figured I’d have a couple massages, relax in the swimming pool, and head out for an afternoon gelato and passeggiata in the lovely pedestrian center of town. Maybe I’d even venture into the Euganean Hills for some wine tasting, or squeeze in a visit to the city of Padova, just 8 miles away.
But once I checked in, I didn’t leave the hotel for two days.
When I plan trips to Italy for my own clients, every so often I get a request for a “hedonistic trip”; a focus on Italy’s food and scenery, with a goal of nothing other than experiencing la dolce vita. My two days at the Trieste & Victoria were completely dolce vita.
It was the pools that got us. After our tour of the grounds by the kind and professional staff, we wanted to get into those pools as fast as we could. And who wouldn’t? They are the temperature of bathwater, ranging from the “cold” 83 degree pool to the warm 97 degree pool.
The “cold” pool, Anastasia Pool, in the photo above, has an underwater gym and lap lanes. My mom said that riding the underwater bike for 10 minutes helped her arthritic knee considerably. But my kids and I spent the most time in the warm pools; they played while I tried out the jet beds – fabulous! You can see the jet beds in the photo below (the Sissi pool, at 91 degrees) in the foreground: the jets massage legs, back, and neck.
Part of the reason we didn’t leave the hotel was that the food was so good. Between the pools, the spa, napping, and breakfast/lunch/dinner, somehow there wasn’t time to go do anything else. We had full board (= breakfast, lunch and dinner) and the food at each meal was so fresh and healthy with an extensive salad bar, a table covered in fresh fruit, an entire table with bread choices, and a dessert table. Then, there was a full menu for hot food where we could order primi (pasta dishes), secondi (meat or fish dishes) and contorni (side dishes). The dining room was elegant, with chandeliers of Venetian glass, pressed tablecloths, and place settings with multiple wine glasses. At breakfast on the outdoor terrace we saw lots of guests wearing the blue spa robes as they were heading down for a treatment, but in the evenings people were dressed to the nines for drinks in the piano bar and dinner.
People come to this hotel for the spa; that’s kind of the point. The area around Abano Terme is known for its volcanic hills and hence volcanic mud and thermal waters, and the spa treatments make use of both. But the spa culture in Italy is different from in North America. Sure, they have the mani / pedi / massage / facials on the menu that we in North America associate with “spa”, and they have health & fitness and anti-stress programs. But people also go to Abano Terme hotels for medical treatments: there are medical doctors on staff who prescribe treatment for back pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, anti-aging and even anti-cellulite. The spa menu is extensive, and many of the treatments involve an hour per day over 7 days. While I was there I had a deep-tissue sports massage, an anti-cellulite massage, and a skin-softening exfoliation treatment — all fabulous!
There are quite a few spa hotels in Abano Terme, but the Abano Grand is the most luxurious. (Fans of the Bachelorette reality TV series might remember it as one of the locations of the 2014 season!) It was closed for renovation while I was there, but I got a tour. The Trieste & Victoria is classic and also classy. It’s old school in a Grand Tour kind of way. The Abano Grand is sumptuous and opulent, and I could easily picture oil magnates clinking glasses under the crystal chandeliers at the bar. Both hotels have Venetian decor, neither are modern, but the Abano Grand is brand new and absolutely stunning.
Since it’s probably obvious from reading this that I had my kids with me on this trip, I wanted to include a note about kids. My kids were made to feel as welcome as any other guest – as you’d expect from a five-star hotel – and they loved the pools and the food. There were a few other families there, but this isn’t a family hotel per se. There are no playgrounds and no children’s activities, although you can hire a babysitter. This is a perfect place for well-behaved children whose parents are there for spa treatments. The pools are of course for swimming but there are guests doing physical therapy or rehab or using the jet beds, so I told my kids: no running, no jumping, no splashing, no yelling and no diving. The poolside (and hotel) atmosphere is quiet, calm, and spa-like.
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