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Urban spa sanctuary inspired by herbal healing and renowned apothecary to open in former monastery in Antwerp

29 Oct 2021
A 15th-century monastery and chapel in Belgium’s capital city of Antwerp is being transformed into a new five-star hotel and botanical spa; Botanic Sanctuary Antwerp.

Located next to the city’s botanic garden, the hotel and spa is due to open on 9 December 2021 and will be home to 108 rooms including dedicated spa suites.

The hotel’s setting adjacent to the Botanical Gardens will be integral to the 1,000sq m Botanic Health Spa, which has been designed to reflect a cloistral devotion to healing plants and herbs.

The spa concept will tap into naturopathy, herbalism, phytotherapy and alternative medicine to support holistic health. Plant-based treatments, herbal products and nutritional supplements will take centre stage to provide solutions to help prevent lifestyle diseases.

The focus on herbal healing stems from the monastery’s history when the original convent's brothers and sisters would grow vegetables and herbs for food and remedies for the sick.

Furthermore, in the 16th century, renowned apothecary Pieter Coudeberg established a medicinal herb garden next door – considered the precursor of the city’s modern-day Botanical Garden.

Developer IRET Development is working to retain the location’s identity and create an urban retreat that brings together a sense of the building’s history with contemporary sensibilities and sustainable design.

So far, the sensitive restoration project has sought to strip away the fripperies of times past to reveal ancient stonework and structures. AIDarchitecten is acting as the lead architect on the project.

As part of the restoration, the monastery’s former pharmacy is also being brought back to life.

Herbal apothecary brand Saint Charles Apothecary will open its flagship store within the pharmacy for holistic wellbeing and balance through one-of-a-kind herbal pharmaceutical products.

The spa itself will feature 10 treatment rooms with interiors conceived as simple yet contemporary spaces featuring wood, stone and floor-to-ceiling windows.

The overall aesthetic is being designed to reflect an elegant and harmonious atmosphere for a soothing inner-city escape focused on community, sanctuary, healing and comfort.

The spa will be spread across three floors and feature a swimming pool, relaxation spaces, infrared loungers, a fireplace, waterbeds, a Jacuzzi, vitamin and herbal bars and the Spa Bistro.

Additional facilities will include a historically-inspired steam room, panoramic Finnish sauna, textile sauna and a thermal zone with a Kneipp walk, ice fountain, salt and mineral sauna.

Spa and wellness consultancy services are being provided by Schletterer Consult as well as Claudia Reichenberger of Marketing Deluxe.

Reichenberger explained that the vision is “to create and operate Belgium’s leading destination spa where botanical wellbeing is central”.

“We’ll tap into the location’s roots with plant-based solutions and the revival of Monastic Medicine; ‘tradition is not the worship of ashes but the passing on of fire’.”

SPA4, Wattec NV and Dauwco BV are also helping to realise the location.

The wellness menu
A combination of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Traditional European Medicine
(TEM) will be deployed by the spa team to facilitate the application of European herbs within the parameters of eastern healing methods.

TCM diagnostics, full-body scans and in-depth consultations will also be offered by the spa’s dedicated holistic medicine and experienced TCM practitioner – Xavier Le Clef.

The spa will be helmed by spa manager Els Vandermeer.

Speaking exclusively to Spa Business, Vandermeer says she’s excited to see the Botanic Health Spa revive the traditions of TEM.

“TEM takes us back to the location’s botanical roots,” she explains, “celebrating the healing plants that have been grown here for centuries, we’ve curated a Botanical Signature Treatment that will combine TCM and TEM with healing herbal essences and botanicals.”

The spa menu will offer anti-ageing facials, medical skin solutions, performance assessments, massages, body rituals, retreats and beauty services for hair and waxing.

Treatments will be powered by luxury Franco-Japanese product house EviDenS de Beauté and Swiss skincare and spa brand Methode Physiodermie. Meanwhile, those seeking aesthetic beauty treatments can access rituals from Skin Vital Concept and Jet Peel.

The wellness facility will be completed with an exclusive fitness club called Botanic Health Club with nutrition, fitness and lifestyle coaching.

The club will encompass a Technogym workout space and be overseen by renowned personal trainer Ingmar Harthoorn who has been appointed as the hotel’s director of sports.

Retreats, workshops, yoga, meditation and mindfulness classes will top the bill to re-energise guests’ bodies and minds.

Visitors will be able to complement their experience at Botanic Sanctuary Antwerp’s four distinct dining options, ranging from a Belgian bistro and sophisticated international bar to Japanese cuisine and fine dining led by Michelin-starred chefs.

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