The Best Girlfriend Getaway On A Skinny Budget: Tuscany
Visiting the Tuscan countryside is like dropping yourself into living art. There are miles of gently rolling hills, grape vines and olive trees as far as the eye can see. Every ancient town dotting the area oozes with art, architecture and culture. It is evident everywhere that connectivity to one’s family runs deep, particularly at the Adler Thermae resort and spa managed by 7th generation hoteliers: The Sanoner family. This gem of a spot, well known to Italian and German travelers, is relatively unfamiliar as an American girlfriend getaway destination, but it shouldn’t be.
A two hour drive from the Pisa or Rome airports and 40 miles south of Siena, Adler Thermae Spa & Relax Resort sits on a hilltop with panoramic views of the d’Orcia Valley. It is reminiscent of a typical Tuscan Villa with a soft cream interior, rich green cypress trees lining the drive and the centerpiece it’s healing thermal springs.
This 90 room, five-star property promises to help guests rediscover their well-being, and regain peace and they frequently have special deals (see below). The resort offers a range of wellness programs from detox, Ayurveda, weight balance to yoga, fitness, anti-aging and anti-stress. The calm starts with the dress code, which is the first thing that struck me. Except for dinner, when decorum reigns, guests roam the property in their bathrobes all day long.
I was told the idea is for Adler Thermae to be a home away from home. While the notion made me a little uncomfortable, my travel partner Christina fully embraced it.
There are a thousand square meters of indoor and outdoor thermal pools to explore each surrounded by sweet private gardens. There are relaxation areas over two floors with waterbeds to recline. The naturally heated pools have varying degrees of temperature and strength of jets, salt-based healing mineral waters some with strong jet pools.
The main pool, which connects to the rapids, is where you can take part in daily underwater Hydro Bikes. The Wild River channel is where strongly flowing water creates the feeling of a flowing river. The most unique feature for me was the underground salt cave: sexy, relaxing and reinvigorating. (Note: If you have color or highlights, wear a bathing cap. The salt definitely does a number on your hair.)
The cabins include an authentic olive-tree wood Finnish sauna on the lake where I found ice-cubes infused with scented essential oils. There are also salt and herbal steam rooms and a Turkish steam bath in the outside grotto. Do not miss the cave of the philosopher with stalactites and stalagmites.
The spa promises to help visitors get in shape, achieve inner harmony and outer beauty and deep relaxation under the direction of the team of over forty staff and physicians. They offer Far Eastern health philosophies as well as modern health programs under medical supervision. I was treated to a Vinotherapy treatment, a healing and beauty treatment developed in 1993 that uses Grapes and grape seeds. It’s a scrub, massage and wine bath followed by some cheese, champagne, comfy bed and star gazing.
I am not normally an all-inclusive food fan, but Adler Thermae does it like no other. And while you can leave to explore the dining options in the Tuscan countryside, you’re not going to want to. Yup, you guessed it….You can eat breakfast and lunch in your bathrobe. All meals are served in the upstairs dining area, which overlooks the iconic UNESCO protected lands. It is mostly buffet with the principal plato served by the friendly and super accommodating waitstaff. If the weather cooperates, most days lunch is served al fresco at the BBQ seating area next to the main pool.
There are multiple food stations at each meal where everything you can think of or desire is available. Cheese stations, bread stations, desserts, etc. Once a week Adler offers a traditional Tuscan steak dinner called bistecca alla fiorentina or steak Florentine. It’s prepared from Chianina beef, a special cow bred in the surrounding area. It is very much like a Porterhouse steak grilled rare over a wood fire. I am not much of a meat eater and trust me, it was tender and delicious.
The only other treat you and your friends might want in the middle of a Toscanian paradise aside from pampering is cooking. Again, Adler Thermae delivers. The Sanoner family owns their own Tenuta Sanoner Wine Estate, which is down the road from the resort. I was fortunate to have a half day cooking lesson from AT’s Executive Chef Gaetano Vaccaro and his sous chef Sebastiano. Together, we prepared mushroom ravioli from scratch and creamy rich profiteroles for dessert. We sat down in their stunning tasting room table and feasted on our makings with the ideal wine pairings from the vineyard.
September through October are the best times of year to visit Tuscany. You can fly directly from JFK in New York to either Pisa International Airport Galileo Galilei or Florence Airport Amerigo Vespucci, then take a train to the region. AT will pick you up from the train station free of charge. The property is having a promotion for girlfriends from September 9 through December 12, 2018, where you and a friend can enjoy the exact same experience Christina and I had for four nights at a special price.
I completed my healthy girlfriend getaway escape with a long stroll among the luscious hanging fruit of the on-property vineyard. Perfection.