23. May 2023
  • Press Newsroom

A Leading Destination Spa in Belgium

Introducing the Botanic Health Spa

Behind tall walls, surrounded by peaceful gardens, the Botanic Health Spa is part of an original 15th century monastery complex. After an extraordinary five-year, £48m+ restoration, this recently opened as the five-star Botanic Sanctuary Antwerp, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World. The 1,000sqm Botanic Health Spa is an airy three storeys of glass, wood, brick and stone, built on the site of the monastery’s old orangery. The building and spa concept tick every eco and sustainability box. Run a finger down the wide-ranging treatment menu and you might find it hard to choose. Osteopathy, physiotherapy, blood analysis, spiritual healing, kinesiology, electromagnetic frequency therapy.

Sightseeing-weariness can be soothed away by a hot-stone treatment, head-to-toe ritual, or classic or four-handed massage. You could lie back for a restorative 50-minute facial. Book a Botanical Signature Treatment amalgamating elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Traditional European Medicine. Work out in the top-floor gym. Join a Yoga class. Swim in the 18m glass-roofed pool. Sweat in a steam room or sauna: infrared, Finnish or Himalayan salt stone.

But the spa provides more than a pleasing place to disappear into between exploring the Botanic 15th century chapel, 16th century former infirmary or restored 19th century apothecary.

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Monastic Medicine: Ancient and Modern

The Botanic Health Spa has made it its mission to revive the tradition of healing in step with nature, while always being open to new developments, that the Augustinian monks – natural naturopaths – cloistered in the monastery here practiced for centuries. Monastic medicine not only formed the basis of Traditional European Medicine (TEM) but signalled the way for modern herbalists’ scientific and holistic approach.

Our own era has, of course, brought impressive medical advances in the range of illnesses, diseases and health problems that can be cured or improved. But the drugs used have sometimes produced unwanted side-effects for which doctors have offered only … more drugs.

Recent years have seen a growing desire for natural healing and non-drug solutions to health problems. The mission of the Botanic Health Spa, therefore, was to carry the naturopathic monks’ tradition of monastic and natural healing into our millennium via the use of plant-based remedies – and to use cutting-edge computer diagnostics to help discover the root of the problem.

Meet Master Therapist and Health Guru Xavier Le Clef

The Botanic Health Spa’s director and mastermind is Xavier Le Clef. And if your heart skips a beat at word of a new health guru, it’s wise to book a session with Le Clef as soon as you’ve firmed up your travel plans. Le Clef’s exceptional diagnostic skills and solutions-based treatments are well known in Antwerp, where for years he has been in private practice. Appointments get booked up quickly.

Beijing-trained, the tall, energetic and engaging Le Clef is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) specialist as well as an expert in cutting-edge vital-fields screening and frequency therapy. Like the Augustinian monks who for centuries tended a medicinal garden here, growing the herbs for remedies with which they treated the sick, Le Clef bases almost all his treatments on plants.

Also like the monks, who would have been constantly alert for word of new plants and formulations and, educated in centuries when most people were illiterate, faithfully disseminated their discoveries via herbal treatises, Le Clef blends the new and old. Generous with his advice and information, as much as anyone can he also keeps abreast of the vast amount of scientific research currently going into health, physical and mental, so that he can stay on top of cutting-edge treatments.

So the result is that if you arrive with one of those niggling health issues GPs seem unable to sort out, or just with a desire to feel better, physically or mentally, there’s a good chance you’ll leave the Botanic Health Spa with a solution to what ails you, plus a plan for going forward.

A Holistic Approach

Each treatment with Le Clef starts with a TCM diagnostic procedure. That means a physical inspection, including of your tongue, eyes, hair and hands; palpation; and questions about your physical complaints, mental worries, lifestyle, eating habits, social environment, and emotional upsets. Next, Le Clef uses a full-body screening programme for a visualisation of imbalances, toxin loads, energy blockages and weak points. The data thus collected builds the foundation for a personalised therapy and treatment programme to help the body self-heal.

Spa Director, Xavier Le Clef
In this fast-moving and demanding world, the health of body, mind and spirit is increasingly a primary focus as the effects of our lifestyle become evident in emotional as well as physical complaints. Only a holistic approach can offer lasting solutions. We gently guide our clients back to the roots of their issues, and this allows us to create a basis for the solution at source, rather than merely chipping away at the symptoms.

Health Coaching

Part of the holistic healing concept involves delving deep into the root causes of a person’s symptoms and issues and revising the habits that have contributed to their problems. Health coaching at the Botanic focuses on personalised wellbeing, and looks at each person individually. A guest’s lifestyle, nutrition, movement, relationships, sleep and stress load are examined in detail to identify the source of any imbalances of the body, mind and emotions. We then work on a plan to change certain aspects of the guest’s lifestyle for the sake of greater equilibrium. The restoration of balance results in a healthier mind and body, and a more energetic and fulfilled life.

The Botanic’s Health Coach, Kim Smolders, is a certified Functional Medicine Health Coach who works closely with the Botanic’s Traditional Chinese Medicine and Traditional European Medicine practitioners and personal trainers. Together, they create tailor-made solutions. Kim takes a direct approach to empower guests, helping them discover the best wellness routines to meet their unique health objectives.

Mylife Changer – the Core of the Botanic Health Spa Philosophy

The synergy between traditional forms of medicine and modern science also underpins the unique solutions-oriented concept practiced at the Botanic Health Spa. Mylife Changer uses cosmeceuticals, manual therapy, device-based skin rejuvenation, tonics, and dietary supplements. The result, says Le Clef, is sustainably healthy and regenerated cell metabolism that slows cell ageing, boosts the immune system and promotes cell renewal.

A key aim, when the Botanic Health Spa was set up, was that it would pursue new and forward-looking routes to lasting physical fitness, good mental health and resilience and general wellbeing. The Mylife Changer concept has already established an impressive range of holistic solutions and preventive treatments.

Customised Mylife Changer journeys are effective in tackling skin issues such as acne, rosacea, hyperpigmentation and psoriasis; boosting the immune system; cleansing the gut; detoxing; starting a fitness programme; improving digestive health; changing how we tackle stress; and getting wedding ready. (Not uncoincidentally, the 15th century chapel, now deconsecrated, at Botanic Sanctuary has become a popular place to get married).

Botanic Health Club

For those who would rather work out, the latest Technogym equipment fills the top floor gym, which looks out over the hotel gardens’ treetops. Personal training is available from Sports Director, ex-professional golfer and fitness expert Ingmar Harthoorn and his team. As this area is also part of the Botanic Health Club, Antwerp’s most exclusive fitness address, there are daily classes to join, including Yoga and bio-circuit training. Like the 18m pool, the gym is open 24/7 for hotel guests and Health Club members.

A 19th Century Apothecary for the 21st Century

Wander across the courtyard from the spa into Botanic Sanctuary’s elegantly restored 19th century pharmacy, Saint Charles, and you may well find yourself spending rather more time there than planned. Established in Vienna in 1886, the Saint Charles brand is now run by a sixth-generation pharmacist, Alexander Ehrmann, and his obsession with the power of plants ensures irresistible natural and organic skincare – along with other niche-brand products – fill the pharmacy’s shelves.

So be warned. You may leave the Botanic Sanctuary with an unplanned bagful of irresistible aromatherapy oils, natural cosmetics, nutritional supplements, and exquisite room sprays. As well as with a resolve to come back to this star among second cities soon, before Antwerp emerges from under the radar.

It is therefore time, perhaps, for anyone planning their next weekend away to forget about the capitals – Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, all now perpetually rammed with tourists – and think instead about a second tier, under the radar city. Antwerp, for instance. So close, yet relatively unknown. And a joy to discover. For centuries quietly at the centre of the world’s diamond trade, Antwerp has cobbled streets and old cafes, some spectacular Renaissance buildings, and world-class museums, shops, and restaurants. From London, it’s barely three hours by train. Getting around its historic streets is easy, on foot or by rental bike or bus. Best of all? For those who like to sink on to a massage bed while away, the sparkling new spa in the heart of lovely Antwerp.

marketing deluxe GmbH

Amy Rose

Tannenberggasse 2/G1, 6130 Schwaz, Austria

marketing deluxe GmbH

Amy Rose

Tannenberggasse 2/G1,
6130 Schwaz, Austria

marketing deluxe GmbH

Amy Rose

Tannenberggasse 2/G1,
6130 Schwaz, Austria

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© Photo Credit: Hugo Thomassen

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