The city of Geneva and its surrounding countryside has a rich history of wellness and well-being dating back to Roman times when the area gained recognition for its soothing natural springs. Since then, Geneva has transformed itself into a diplomatic epicenter sparked by the establishment of the League of Nations in 1920 and the subsequent formation of the United Nations Office at Geneva after the end of the Second World War. Given the city’s international significance and growing population, it comes as no surprise that Geneva’s legacy of wellness and health has blossomed in recent years, with hundreds of establishments in the region offering well-being and spa facilities.
However, in the past year, these businesses have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic that has significantly affected the operations of well-being services globally, begging the question as to how such facilities are managing to function in current conditions. To answer this, UN Today reached out to Les Bains de Lavey – a wellness and thermal bath center located ninety minutes from Geneva in the canton of Vaud – inquiring about their current pandemic operations, general facilities and desired relationship with the United Nations.
Les Bains de Lavey is one of the largest hot-spring resorts in the Alps and is renowned for having the warmest thermal baths in Switzerland. The center boasts an impressive range of facilities that include expansive thermal baths, saunas, steam rooms, a wellness center offering massages and a four-star hotel with bars and two restaurants. Speaking with communications manager Anthony Dufaux and Sylvie Michaud, the general service director at Les Bains de Lavey, we were told that the establishment is recommended to those wanting to “enjoy a moment of well-being in an exceptional place.” For longer visits, a stay at the hotel is advised as it allows for unlimited access to the thermal baths.
In recent years, the establishment’s most significant technological innovations came with the introduction of an online reservation system allowing guests to book access to the thermal baths and wellness treatments as well as “Les Baignades Illuminées” – a multisensory event involving light projections on trees and music played around the baths to “immerse bathers in a unique atmosphere.”
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Les Bains de Lavey have adapted their operations and implemented a number of preventative health measures that allow them to continue to welcome guests in safe conditions. Most significantly, bathing has been limited to the outdoor thermal baths and admissions restricted to thirty people per half hour with a maximum limit of 142 people, in line with federal regulations. The center has also implemented a detailed “protection plan” that includes floor markings, disinfection stations, restrictions on people in certain areas and a new online reservation system that is used to control arrivals.
Nonetheless, in spite of these health and safety measures, Les Bains de Lavey continue to offer a unique experience through their famous outdoor thermal baths. As Geneva is the establishment’s closest major city as well as a significant diplomatic hub, we were told that Les Bains de Lavey “would certainly like to welcome the staff of the United Nations, give them the opportunity to travel a little over an hour to come and relax in exceptional water” that is “full of minerals and extremely beneficial for the body and mind.” The center also conveyed its desire to establish a relationship with the United Nations as they are “interested in discussing a partnership with the United Nations to encourage its staff to take time off from their busy schedules and to enjoy some quality time” in the wellness facilities.
An international future?
Ultimately, while we only heard from one wellness center, it is clear that there are a number of other enterprises in the Geneva region offering similar experiences that are deeply rooted in Swiss tradition. As studies by the Federal Statistical Office have found that work-related levels of stress and burnout have increased significantly in recent years, consumer demand for such establishments is expected to increase as spa and wellness facilities gain renown for their abilities to reduce stress and motivate healthier lifestyles. Even with the current restrictions due to the pandemic, it is clear that wellness and spa centers such as Les Bains de Lavey are largely open for business and are actively carrying on the Lac Léman region’s proud historical tradition of well-being. As Geneva is a global hub for diplomacy and hosts the largest number of international associations in the world, such businesses assuredly seek a direct engagement with the United Nations and embrace visitors from the organization.
After all, Geneva’s international significance does not look as if it will be declining anytime soon, and wellness centers look forward to hosting members of the city’s diplomatic community to experience relaxing well-being and hospitality at its finest.