Reader’s Review: Hoogland Health Hydro

By: Gillian Mclaren

Freelance travel and sience writer, Gillian Mclaren recently made a three-day trip to Hoogland Health Hydro, a blissfully beautiful setting in a valley surrounded by koppies laden with aloes. She felt it the perfect place to escape city life and be pampered. Maybe this is just what you need too.

I felt energised just looking at the place before I even began enjoy what it has to offer. The prospect of walking in that terrain to explore the bush lifted my tired city spirits.  I was not disappointed, and each morning and evening a staff member led willing participants on a nature ramble. What a pleasure to get a little exercise by enjoying the environment, not just by slogging away in a gym.  We passed a huge Kiepersol, which is estimated to be over 200 years old; an amphitheatre of rock decorated with towering mountain aloes, some six meters high and dolomite rocks etched by time.

A sensible cycle is also suggested – which can be repeated a few times daily – exercise, massage then hydrotherapy, followed by relaxation. Besides the daily walk, I also did stretch classes, aqua-aerobics, some stationary cycling in their gym, and swam lengths in the lightly-heated indoor pool.Each day I had a different massage which were all so delectable that I would be hard-pressed to choose a favourite: the aromatherapy massage, where they let me choose my favourite scents, was softer and more relaxing; the lymph drainage massage was hard and more stimulating than relaxing; while the vigorous Swedish massage untensed my muscles. Every therapist who treated me was professional, kind and skilled at her particular technique.

Besides the hot pool for the hydrotherapy, there is a Turkish steam bath, sauna and steam box. I chose the steam box over the others at each turn, as I prefer my head out of the steam and the lever that allows you to control the heat makes me feel less nervous of overheating! It feels so invigorating to get extremely hot and sweat it out, then stroll to the cold pool outside and dive in – enjoying not only feeling slightly high after the exercise and hot/cold experience, but reveling in the glorious view.

Get healthy doing nothing is the name of the game. Relaxation is secretly many people’s favourite part of a stay at the hydro, I suspect. Dotted around the property are deck chairs where I lay down and allowed my body to manufacture vitamin D in the sunshine. Sometimes I rested in my room or on a deck chair, which had a superb view of the grassy area in front of the hydro and of the south-facing koppies. My bed was extremely comfortable and I liked the soft, white cotton linen. What a heavenly feeling to simply relax and do nothing, except swig great volumes of delicious spring water, which is available in small glass bottles in many fridges in the building. Surely there is no better drink!

I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is food available twenty-four hours a day and tasty fare at that. Breakfasts comprise oats or maltabella porridge, stewed fruits, yogurt and freshly baked bread. Chopped fresh fruit and salad are available in a fridge all day long. Lunches included various fresh salads, many of them grown on the property, as well as a chicken or fish dish and creative vegetable dishes. I particularly enjoyed the banana bread and muffins. Supper included a soup like carrot or chunky vegetable, with another delightful array of vegetarian concoctions. The food is so good, they have been asked by guests to bring out a book.

One of the highlights for me was meeting the Kruger family who own and run the hydro. They are passionate about educating and helping their guests to achieve what they want from their stay. Dr. Andre Kruger is an intense, caring man who sees to the medical side of things and gives lectures in the evening. While I was there I met a man who has had a stroke and he had booked in for a month of rehab. People come for a wide range of reasons; including to lose weight, to deal with specific physical and mental health issues, and to relax and luxuriate in the pools. Should guests wish to fast, Dr. Kruger oversees, supports and advises them on the process. He is convinced that fasting adds years to one’s life, as bodies deal with cancerous cells formidably when their systems do not have to focus on digestion and elimination of toxins from all we imbibe.

I departed reluctantly after my stay at Hoogland Health Hydro, sad to bid farewell to the lovely ladies who had assisted me in the steam room or had pedi- and manicured me, and to the members of the Kruger family who had all been kind and informative.Fasting will become a way of life for me and I am implementing aspects of the cycle at home. I feel well and de-stressed because of it, and am planning my next visit to Hoogland, a mere hour from Joburg.

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