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  Spa means “health through water,” the water of mineral springs, which Europeans, drink, bathe in and call “the cure.” More than 3,000 years ago Caesar’s legionnaires stopped in Tuscany on their way back to Rome to soak in bubbling pools.

The destination spa is an American invention pioneered by Elizabeth Arden. Seventy years ago she created a haven, not only for well being, but for pampering, exercise and weight loss. Her imitators are considerable. In the States stand-alone retreats do it all and fulfill every fitness need. We always return from a visit feeling completely invigorated and renewed. To keep up with our country’s love affair with beauty treatments and working out, spas are now an important feature of hotels, resorts and cruise ships. Even small properties with a few pieces of equipment and one or two treatment rooms often include spa in their listing of amenities. A stretch of the imagination, pretension or maybe both.