Spa ninjas go!
A few days ago my friend and I decided to take a short spa vacation in Pomurje, right in the head of our Slovenian chicken. We chose Bioterme in Mala Nedelja, a 4 star spa resort with a thermal water park and wellness centre, which is known as a green destination for their sustainability efforts. They use natural materials in their rooms, thermal water for heating, solar power and have both the European and Slovenina eco labels.
We went full grandma for the duration of our stay, complete with crosswords by the pool, bathrobes, early dinners due to hotel Covid arrangements and of course, gin and tonics. I also bought us matching Strange Planet funky towels and since the hotel crowd mostly consisted of retirees, we were the coolest people there (I’m kidding, of course).
Bioterme spa review
To start off, Bioterme resort offers a hotel, glamping and an RV park. We stayed at the hotel, because we could go to the spa right down the corridor in our bathrobes and wanted that convenience + the price was very reasonable and the same as for glamping. The room was wonderful and I could tell straight away that it’s an eco hotel from the design, the materials used and the amenities provided. They place great emphasis on saving energy and reducing waste, although they were a bit heavy on the single use, disposable items in the restaurant, which I’m guessing was due to Covid safety regulations.
There are several indoor and outdoor pools with a large park-like area with lots of lounge chairs for visitors to chill in, complete with a restaurant, a summer kitchen and a small ice cream cafe. The pool variety was great for a resort this size and I loved that they have 2 proper swimming pools in addition to the usual thermal soaking pools and Jacuzzis, and that the water was very clean and not heavily chlorinated. The wellness centre was nice and cosy and we had the sauna completely to ourselves due to Covid regulations, which was a huge plus (they have Finnish, Turkish, IR and herbal saunas, as well as a cold water pool). We didn’t try any of the massage or body care services, but we did try out the fitness and I have to say it was quite outdated and some of the machines weren’t working properly.
My next complaint was the dinner. For a 4 star hotel I was sorely disappointed to find a dinner buffet full of greasy, cafeteria-quality food. It looked good on paper and they even had local dishes, but there were no healthy options besides the salad bar, the desserts were very basic and everything was just swimming in too much oil. On the other hand, the breakfast was quite nice, with lots of options and reasonably greasy scrambled eggs, so I’m not entirely sure why dinner was so bad. Similarly, the hotel bar looked very fancy and chic, but the waiter was a bit confused when we asked about cocktails… There was also barely any animation or activities for hotel guests besides seniors’ water aerobics and a kids’ night, and we think we know what’s going on: Bioterme resort has all the vibes of a fancy 4 star spa resort on the outside, but due to its remote location and since they have a physiotherapy/injury recovery division like all thermal spas in Slovenia, the guests were mostly retirees and it looks like the place has turned into more of a health resort over time, which would explain certain slips in quality.
Obviously that wasn’t a big deal for us since we came to relax and chill and indulge our inner grandmas, but we did notice that most of the younger visitors chose glamping, so perhaps the vibe was different there. We also saw lots of locals with kids pouring in on the last day when schools closed down for the summer and it appears Bioterme come alive and get quite crowded during the warmer months, so perhaps the food gets better then too?
All in all, Bioterme resort is a great place if you’re looking for a relaxing, affordable and peaceful eco holiday in the middle of scenic Pomurje nature and I’d definitely visit again. However, I’d recommend avoiding the hotel dinner for now by either staying at the glamping cottages and cooking your own or driving to a nearby restaurant.
Bioterme spa in Mala Nedelja
Since Bioterme resort is located in a village called Mala Nedelja, which translates to small Sunday, naturally we also had to visit the castle in Velika Nedelja, a.k.a. big Sunday on our way back home. This particular village was named after a major battle on Easter Sunday in 1199, when Friderik of Ptuj took the still undeveloped land from Hungarians and gifted it to the Teutonic Order of Knights who later built the castle. Although the castle’s history dates back to the 1200s, most of today’s castle is from the 16th century and is considered to be one of the most preserved early baroque buildings in Slovenia.
I was surprised to discover that besides housing an ethnological collection and a part of the Ptuj Ormož regional museum, the castle is still inhabited today. There appear to be several apartments inside and the whole area was well maintained and felt very alive, we even saw an outdoor theatre and a kindergarten nearby, as well as the parish church of the Holy Trinity.
Velika Nedelja castle
Continuing with our tour de Pomurje on the way back, we also stopped at the castles in Ormož and Ptuj, as well as lake Blaguš. Since it was a national holiday, Ormož was pretty dead and I’d already covered Ptuj in a different post here, but lake Blaguš was a new and pleasant experience. Blaguš is an artificial lake from the 60s when a dam was made on the Blaguš stream for agricultural purposes, but today it makes for a nice summer daytrip. We saw lots of people either swimming, hiking or on sups and there are several nature hiking paths in the area.
They recently built a forest glamping resort at Blaguš, which has some of the least invasive and nature-suiting architecture I’ve ever seen. They appear to have either small glam tent huts or glass and wooden cottages and everything looks really neat, but I haven’t tried it out yet. There’s also a cafe and their ice coffee was delicious.
Also, fun fact, lake Blaguš is located in Sv. Jurij ob Ščavnici, which roughly translates to St. George by Pisswater. I swear, this part of Slovenia has the best place names!
Obviously there’s quite a lot more to do in Pomurje and the surrounding regions, so check out the official Slovenia tourist pages when planning your visit, but if I had to name three things these parts are known for, it would be thermal spa resorts, wine and pumpkin seed oil and you shouldn’t miss any of them.