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Taking the waters: Hydrotherapy or healthy?

Writing about health resorts that feature thermal water treatments is confusing.

American and European resorts use different terms for treatments and therapies.

Some are medical, others don't define themselves as a spa. Europe has baden, terme, or therme. In America, only a few like West Baden Springs in Indiana continue the heritage. Most others are simply called hot springs.

Consider these differences before you go.

West Baden Springs adjoins the French Lick Springs resort in Indiana, but the two are completely seperate about taking the waters. One features a casino; the other has modern hydrotherapy and unique circular architecture.

Baden is a small town in Switzerland, near Zurich, where several hotels feature large pools of thermal water and a limited menu of treatments such as massage,

Baden-Baden is a major resort town in Germany's Black Forest that grew around its "kur" center and casino. Today, culture competes with kur, featuring a major museum of modern art plus a performing arts centre. But traditional baths range from Imperial to a huge waterpark, and the top-rated Brenner's Park-Hotel doesnt tap in.

Bad Sulza in Eastern Germany has a massive modern bathhouse for swimming, plus adjoining sauna centre and beauty treatments. A sister resort near Frankfurt, Bad Orb features Toskana Terme beauty treatments.

Adding a few days to a European circuit can help you recuperate from tourist fatigue. Just don't call them spas.