If you love elegant villas set in sumptuous lawns and a graceful promenade by a sparkling sea, Heiligendamm is definitely for you. This resort was the first spa town in Germany, and in the 1800s, the aristocracy flocked here to enjoy the health giving air and water, and generally to see and be seen.
Often called the “White Town by the Sea”, the resort has managed to retain its elegance, and spa facilities are still very much a part of the offer. Like most of the fashionable resorts of the era, the Grand Hotel is very grand – a gorgeous white wedding cake of a bulding, set on the beach, with stunning views out to the Baltic Sea, a Michelin starred restaurant, sushi bar, and another historic restaurant as well. The spa facilities in the hotel are brilliant, as you might expect given the town’s history and the traditional German love of spas.
There’s also a great selection of four star hotels and apartments. If you’re used to some of the eye-watering prices charged by UK resort hotels, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the good value on offer.
The Baltic Sea churns up all kinds of geological specimens which you can pick up when you’re walking along the beach. You can find amber (if you’re lucky) but also sea urchins and fossils.
Sports and activities
Golfers are incredibly well served. A short drive down the coast takes you to the Wittenbeck golf resort. You can play as a guest or join the club. There is a superb Par-72 championship course and a shorter 9-hole course. Wittenbeck is one of the most beautiful golf courses in Germany, a few metres above sea level, with glorious views. There’s a golf school and lots of tournaments take place there. There are other local golf clubs too – and a warm welcome for visiting players.
Riding is popular, as are fishing, shooting and many other diversions. Ask in your hotel for directions to the nearest facility, or to book a session. Excursion destinations include the Moorbad natural park in Bad Doberan, with all kinds of ways to see the animals, aviaries, playgrounds, paddling pools and more.
At nearby Rövershagen there’s a huge farmers’ market, tractor exhibition, water sports playground and a children’s farm.
Bad Doberan is the town just next to Heiligendamm and it has the kind of upmarket shops you’d expect. It’s managed to avoid the blight of the shopping centre and has interesting one-off shops selling fashion, accessories and tasteful interior décor pieces, many of which are hand-crafted.
Spa treatments and wellbeing clinics
Mud from the moors is big here. It’s considered one of the oldest natural remedies for relaxation and health. A mud bath (“Moorbad”) is a wonderful way to revitalise but it’s also recommended by the local clinics for people with mobility problems to ease joints and restore movement. Try the Moorbad clinic in nearby Bad Doberan for a holistic approach to health and wellness, particularly rheumatological problems.
Specialising in cardiovascular problems, allergies and skin diseases the Median Rehabilitation clinic uses seawater baths with filtered and warmed seawater – so you get the benefits but it’s not too bracing. Both of these spas have lovely grounds and very elegant buildings.
There’s also the Velvita Fitness Studio, offering aromatherapy, massage and reflexology.
As well as the hotel restaurants, there are some great places for ice cream and pastries, including an ice cream parlour on the promenade. Try the Cafè “MEDIAN” with its beautiful outdoor terrace.
A short trip into Bad Doberan gives you an enormous choice of places to eat out, to suit every purse and taste. Vegetarians are well served, as are serious meat eaters with some excellent steak houses.
One of the best things about German resorts is their combination of daytime walks, rides and activities, with the promise of an excellent dinner in the evening!
Getting there couldn’t be simpler – there’s an airport at Rostock-Laage and flights from Stansted so it’s an ideal choice for a long weekend. It’s about an hour’s drive from the airport to the resort, and there’s car hire at the airport, or you can choose a taxi or get the bus (2 hours).
Narrow gauge steam railway
A little steam railway runs between Bad Doberan and Heiligendamm every day. Railway enthusiasts will want to know that this is the only one in Germany with a gauge of 900mm that is also steam powered. The rest of us will just be pleased that we have such a nice way to get from the resort into Bad Doberan town and back again.