At first glance, Iceland seems like an otherworldly land of mystery; dramatic vast black beaches, boiling bubbling geysers, spectacular waterfalls, moody and rugged hills with simmering volcanoes – you might think you are on Mars! Apart from its grandiose beauty, the powerful Icelandic nature has hidden healing powers.
The Blue Lagoon was accidentally discovered by a young man called Valur Margeirsson in the 1980s. Every day he would pass a geothermal power plant in the lava field and noticed a large pool of milky blue water forming next to the plant. Margeirsson was intrigued by the warm and inviting water, which was natural condensation from the plant. In the true tradition of adventurous Icelanders, he decided to dip his toes in. Margeirsson had psoriasis and, after trying many unsuccessful remedies, got the idea that perhaps this water could help his skin problem. The high concentration of silica, algae and minerals worked wonders, and to this day, people flock to the lagoon for health and healing.
Almost 40 years later, etched into the valley of the 800-year-old lava field and with direct access to the mineral-rich Blue Lagoon lies The Retreat Hotel.
A haven of wellness housed in a minimalist, modern structure, furnished with a mix of elegant B&B Italia pieces and practical and beautiful Scandi design. Nature is the inspiration for spacious but muted rooms flooded with light from floor-to-ceiling windows and clever dawn-to-dusk lighting that mirrors that of the sun; essential in a country where the sun only shines for five hours a day during winter. Everything perfectly frames the stunning surroundings; terrain that is alive with craters, fissures, mud pools, steam vents, hot springs, and endless moss-covered lava fields with a stream of cerulean water below.
The lagoon eventually became the focus of intense scientific study and the Blue Lagoon Limited Company was created, which is now dedicated to the research and development of the water’s healing elements. The key ingredients, silica, algae, and minerals abundant in the geothermal water, originate from 2,000 metres below the Earth’s surface.
The Retreat now houses a state-of-the-art spa, complete with saunas and steam rooms. It is found in a secluded area of the lagoon where the most special treatment can be found: the in-water massage. Created and perfected at the Blue Lagoon, the one-of-a-kind spa experience is aimed at unlocking new levels of well-being in the mind, body, and spirit while using restorative elements from the lagoon itself.
Then there is ‘The Ritual’, a three-step full-body exfoliation and masque process. It incorporates nature’s bounty extracted from the surrounding geothermal waters and the earth below: silica, algae and minerals, delivered in their purest form every three to four days from the Research and Development (R&D) Centre across the road. Each has specific beneficial properties: Silica opens pores and strengthens the skin’s barrier function, providing a radiant glow; algae ramp up collagen production; and the salt and lava scrub stimulates circulation. Sip on a refreshing house-made herbal tea while exploring the trio of scrubbing and application stations, and marvel at the results after. The pièce de résistance: the algal oil — referred to as “the fountain of youth” by Ása Brynjolfsdottir, the head of R&D at the Blue Lagoon — given to me by a spa attendant to apply after the trifecta. “Due to the extreme conditions of the lagoon — it’s a very hot environment for an organism to live in — it produces a special algae,” notes Brynjolfsdottir. Beauty aficionados love it!