Lying in my deluxe room’s bed, I have things narrowed between Pure relaxation, a vitalizing whole-body peeling, a Bubbly Moment, the Milk and Honey Signature Treatment, a back massage and facial, or the Oriental Indulgement’s hot towel warm up ritual and Ayurvedic full body massage with massage bars. I settle on Milk and Honey, thanking my subconscious for using the marvelous depth of the space, looking up at the timelessness of the flat white plaster ceiling 16.5 feet away. In anticipation of today’s spa treatment, contemplating what one comes to expect of shall I say standard luxuries, if you’ll pardon the apparent contradiction of those words, associated with 5-star hotels: the heated floor and towel rack in the bathroom, overnight laundry, twice daily housekeeping, a pillow menu, in room computer hookup, 24 hour reception and room service, the in-house jeweler and boutiques, on-request limo and transfer service, a variety of on-site restaurants, complete with in house patisserie and tea sommelier, I understand why occupancy is consistently high at Hotel Taschenbergpalais Kempinski, Dresden.
With a couple hours to go before my signature massage and treatment, I pop upstairs in robe, slippers and trunks, although the spa area’s changing room has the expected lockers, towels, robes and slippers, I bring the ones from my room, minimizing changing time, maximizing spa time. Upstairs, from the selection of infused waters, teas and juices, I decide on a glass of apple juice at the wellness bar before slipping into the pool and begin my water work with a few laps of low energy breast stroke.
The 4,100 sq ft. wellness area underwent a 6 month revitalization, reopening in November, 2018. And while guest membership is available for those who are not staying in the hotel to either lie motionless in the redesigned spa treatment rooms and sauna areas, or move to their heart’s content on the high tech exercise equipment, all the while appreciating the blend of high tech workout in the midst of baroque architectural design elements that mirror the city of Dresden itself: modern yet historic.
Through contemplating contrast and compatibility, I decide to finish pool time floating face up, drinking the view of the modern, blue ceiling that mirrors the pool’s water, their color, sandwiching the area’s brown deck stonework. That brown is a hint of what’s next for me, the tone rests on the other end of the color and temperature spectrum but is similar in hue to the brown wood and triple digit temperature of the spa’s two Finnish Saunas.
Out of the pool, into robe and slippers then over to one sauna, the copper kettle aromatic infusion is an option I exercise, lounging I adjust to the temperature change and relax into the situation as my skin puts out perspiration, the nostrils inhale an invigorating unseen atmosphere. Now and then I glance at the ceiling’s C.H. Wolf/ Glashütte-designed oversized clock, because as much relaxing
fun as there is here on the wood, the table beckons and punctuality is a virtue, while Wolf is now well known for watches, they began making clocks in the late 1800s in the nearby Saxon town of Glashutte. The miniaturized version of the “Fürstenzug” which translates to “Procession of the Princes” a depiction of a procession of Saxon rulers completed in 1876, is seen near the ceiling of the Finnish
Sauna. In 1907 after 3 years of work placing porcelain tile over the original, to weather proof the stone, that labor made the 334 ft mural the largest piece of porcelain artwork on Earth. And this miniature is enough for me to make a mental note, head across the square and walk the original artwork’s 110 yards of history. This miniaturized replica of “Fürstenzug” is a preview of the Zwinger Palace, considered by many as one of the great examples of Baroque Architecture, to explore the square on which the Kempinski and the Zwinger both rest is something I plan to do this afternoon, right now I revel in the relaxation of this relaxing heat.
After a quick shower and a spell in the relaxation area, I head toward one of three treatment rooms, one of which is equipped for couples massage, pedicures, manicures and other treatments, a steam bath and infrared cabins are available for those who want an ideal means of warmth and relaxation. The sauna area is available for guests free of charge. While external guests may purchase either a spa membership or a day spa admission, I’m on the inside and loving it.
Today’s Milk and Honey Signature Treatment is designed to be 90 minutes of head to toe, face to back relaxation and detoxification, expertly administered by the spa manager Sabrina, the very embodiment of this hotel group’s commitment to go beyond the buildings themselves, and ensure the employees are an equally important part of the Kempinski hotels’ allure, the staff’s blend of professionalism and superb hospitality is consistent across the range of their exclusive yet individually distinctive properties. We begin the treatment with a 30 minute application of a milk compress, whose active ingredient is made possible by the donation of Dresden’s state, Saxony, cattle before proceeding to an even more local mixture for the next hour, of Dresden bee honey and oil, a combination premiered in January, 2019 when the spa reopened.
This blend, applied here and now, mirrors the ensemble of art, architecture and history outside, the hotel, a building which was once a supplement to a palace built by a monarch for his favorite mistress.
The second half of my massage hour is face up with a mask of royal jelly on the face and the smooth warm firm application of technique made possible by the blend of the honey’s stickiness and massage oil’s desire to flow, I revel in the cooperation between nature’s beings, cows, bees and humans. The mask is a liquid version of the Porcelain invented by Saxon Elector Friedrich August I, or August “The Strong” who built the structure which is now Hotel Taschenbergpalais Kempinski Dresden, for his favorite mistress Countess Anna Constantia von Cosel. After the building’s complete destruction near the end of World War II a total rehabilitation began in 1992, when completed in 1995 it made this Kempinski the first 5 Star Hotel in Saxony.
I finish the massage and mask experience with a digestive of Dresdner Engel sparkling Wine from nearby town of Radebeul, sipping deliberately I think it’s best to have only one glass because this afternoon I plan to head out for an afternoon in the city’s Old Town.
Showered, refreshed and feeling revitalized, I step outside the Taschenbergpalais’ lobby doors, the current exterior looks as though the building appeared in 1767, making today’s hotel the result of that three year, $142 million rehabilitation. Reconfiguration of some of the interior spaces made for rooms of adequate size and the practicalities of modern living, en suite bathrooms, indoor plumbing, elevators, and electricity are among the obvious, practical considerations. In addition three restaurants and a bar with a formidable selection of whiskies are on the ground floor below their 213 elegantly appointed guest rooms, 31 of which are suites, many of which offer views of the Theaterplatz, across which the Old Town’s internationally renowned opera house, Semperoper, is seen, and on the right is August The Strong’s Castle. Look left for the Zwinger museum and its porcelain collection and displays of scientific instruments that are as impressive as its gardens. August The Strong, patron of art and architecture, is credited with making Dresden a cultural and artistic magnet drawing artists from around the continent to his court.
At present, in the heart of Dresden’s historic Old Town, I feel not merely surrounded but embraced by The Elbe, the opera house and the palace, my historical triangle is a hint to why this city’s art and architecture has been called “Florence on the Elbe” for centuries. Since its creation in 1897, through its commitment to service and luxury Kempinski Hotels has grown the brand to 76 5-Star hotels and residences sprinkled across 34 countries with more on the way in the Americas, Europe, the MidEast and Africa to become Europe’s oldest luxury hotel group. This wonderful example of Kempinski’s commitment to “Historic Landmark Properties” which in addition to urban lifestyle hotels and resorts each remaining true to each area’s cultural traditions. And if you need additional validation, please ask President Obama for his opinion of the hotel, he stayed here on one of his trips to Germany.