By Avril O’Connor
Tunisia has more thalassotherapy centres than anywhere else in the world, aside from France, combining both traditional Arabic and French influenced treatments using heated seawater.
Fashionable and fun – thalassotherapy is a medical treatment that uses hot seawater combined with mud or seaweed, massage and physiotherapy, it is particularly recommended for sufferers of reheumatism, arthritis and stress but provides a great source of relaxation for anybody seeking a bit of rejuvenation.
This is reflected in the fact that in addition to bubbling baths, underwater massage, acqua aerobics and seaweed wraps, Tunisia’s thalassotherapy centres also offer more traditional pampering and beauty treatments.
So whether you opt for a jasmine aromatherapy bath or a post-exfoliation cucumber body wrap, the petal-scattered marble floors and mist-filled arches of these Moorish Aladdin’s caves will let you dream the hours away.
Many of Tunisia’s centres also cater for smokers intent on kicking the habit, post natal mothers in need of some molly-coddling of their own and anyone looking to loose a few pounds or embark on a short get-fit programme. Many of the centres are equipped with guilt-free low calorie restaurants and state of the art fitness centres.
The Hasdrubal Thalassa at Yasmin Hammamet, is an exceptional hotel, offering spacious five star luxury. It has a huge white sand beach on the edge of the Mediterranean. The hotel is exclusively comprised of suites, the majority with a sea view.
The hotels hammam pictured above
As one of the Leading Hotels of the World you only get the best food and service here. The rooms are huge and decadent with marble bathrooms and the state of the art thalassotherapy centre makes it an ideal place for relaxation.
It is also the resort which visiting dignitaries choose for their holidays – it has a private villa with its own pool, double garage and helipad.
The spa has a huge wet area with 8 hydromassage cabins, 4 “affusion” showers cabins, 4 jet showers cabins, 6 alghotherapy cabins, 4 underwater showers cabins, 1 phlebology course, 1 sea-water indoor swimming pool, 1 sea-water open air swimming pool and 1 cavitosonic room. The dry area has 16 massage cabins, an aromatherapy room, and marine ball. There is also a herbal tea room, beauty and hair-dressing salons and a fitness centre. There are also has two traditional hammams one for men and the other for women.
The spa menus is enormous. As well as thalassotherapy, there are Ayurvedic massages and others with fragrant oils. The whole spa experience here is magical.
Sidi Bou Saïd
Sidi Bou Saïd is a picturesque blue and white 13th century village situated near Tunis and adorned with red bougainvilla, on the chic Upper Carthage Coast (20 minutes from the capital) overlooking the Gulf of Tunis.
The hotel, Dar Saïd is a beautiful “Dar” residence (house in Arabic and equivalent to Morocco’s Riads) which dates back to 1868. Built in 1948 it became a 24-room boutique hotel. Every room is different and filled with antiques. Previous guests include Prince Albert of Monaco.
We recommend you sit by the pool with a glass of the local rose and watch the sun go down – its just beautiful!
Café Chabaane, Sidi Bou Saïd
Famous for its panoramic views of the sea and its mint tea – it is a popular hangout with Tunisians
Avenue Bourguiba in the Nouvelle Ville, Tunis
Take a leisurely stroll along the café-lined boulevards of the Ville Nouvelle and people watch. This wide avenue has modern shops, patisseries, banks and an opera house.
Medina of Tunis
This quarter is a UNESCO world heritage site is a warren of streets selling all kinds of goodies. Haggle for handicrafts including olive wood bowls, silver jewellery, spices, carpets, ceramics and kaftans.
If you have time to explore the Medina (visit to the Ezzitouna or “olive” Mosque- 698 AD, see panoramic views of Tunis and visit traditional Tunisian residences including boutique hotel “Dar El Medina” voted by Sunday Times Travel as one of best hip havens in the world & featured 67 out of 100 best hotels).
Dar Bel Hadj restaurant, Medina of Tunis
This restaurant is converted from traditional Tunisian residence dating back to 1707. It is frequented by wealthy Tunisians and tourists alike. The food is fantastic – sample real Tunisian cuisine and Tunisian wine.
This museum is arguably home to the most impressive collection of Roman mosaics in the world. Beautiful and get inspiration for home DIY.
Restaurant Au Bon Vieux de Temps, Sidi Bou Saïd
A small restaurant with lots of character and great sea views. (1 minute walk from Dar Saïd). Sample fresh fish, couscous and French/international cuisine; Buf Sur le Toit, la Soukra – a jazz bar 10 minutes from Sidi Bou Saïd, often live jazz music; Carthage: The Antonine Baths & Byrsa Hill: The ancient sites of Carthage founded in 814 BC by the Phoenicians are staggering in their scale. There are also Punic and Roman ruins.
La Falaise (cliff) restaurant in La Marsa on Carthage Coast
This restaurant is famous for fresh fish & sea food.
The Sadika Keskes
A blown glass art studio, La Marsa on Carthage Coast; Sadika Keskes is the only Tunisian woman in this profession. She has a beautiful studio where she makes & sells glass artwork & objects, handmade jewellery and linen goods.www.sadika.com
Shopping at Berges du Lac shopping centre
Tunisia’s modern shopping centre situated 10 minutes from the centre of the city, where you can find top brands such as Sisley, Benetton, Hugo Boss at a 30% discount.
The marina of Yasmine Hammamet
The Pomodoro restaurant in marina of Yasmine Hammamet, The Medina of Hammamet, The restaurant Les Trois Moutons in Hammamet
The international code for Tunisia is: 0021
Tunisair has return flights from Heathrow to Tunis from $280 (€188, £150pp) www.tunisair.com.
Tunisian National Tourist Office London 020 7224 5598 www.cometotunisia.co.uk
Tel: 00216 71 729 666 Fax: 00216 71 729 599. Twin/doubles from $186 (€125, £100) per night based 2 sharing including tax, breakfast is not included.www.darsaid.com.tn
Hasdrubal Thalassa & Spa Tel : 00216 72 244 850 Fax : 00216 72 244 895 Double junior suites (low season) from $214 (€144, £115) per night including tax.www.hasdrubalhotels.com