More than 150 years of deep-rooted history
The beneficial properties of the water in La Garriga have been worshipped since the Bronze Age, and were harnessed for therapeutic purposes in Roman times.
During the 18th century, bathhouses and thermal facilities were built to meet the hygiene and medical requirements of the upper classes, since hospitals tended to be seen as places of contagion and new diseases.
It was during this time that the history of the spa as a lodging establishment began. In 1840, Joan Blancafort Llavina founded the bathhouse, which was also known locally as L’Establiment. With a capacity for more than 200 people, it was the biggest and most important building in the entire town.
From 1853, the state began to recognise other health facilities and declare them a public utility. In La Garriga, the first bathhouse to be acknowledged was the Establecimiento de Baños Blancafort.The facilities were very basic – four baths covered with Valencian tiles which were filled with thermal spring water via an underground channel installed beneath Calle de los Baños.
In September 1860, the thermal spring was declared a public utility. In 1876, it was extended and improved by his son Antonio Blancafort, and renovated and perfected by Bautista Blancafort i Carbonell, grandson of the founder.
The result was a four-storey building with modernist elements, set around an open garden. An expansive gallery of baths was built with 12 cabins initially made of marble and later of porcelain, and a separate area for showers and other hydrotherapy services.
The semi-basement was home to the bathing facilities, while the ground hosted the main entrance, administration, hall, cafe, lounge, events hall and some of the rooms.
On the first floor, there was a solarium and several further rooms.
The third and final floor had the remaining bedrooms, the roof terrace and a storage area.
The extensive gardens featured a promenade area, a chapel, a pergola where musicians offered open-air concerts and a sports court.
The spa provided its guests with a plethora of options.Firstly, there was a full-board package offering accommodation and maintenance. Depending on the purchasing power of the holidaymaker, they were able to choose between a ‘French’ table or a ‘Spanish’ table. The richer ones opted for the French table.
In this category, each person or family had their own individual table, where they were served complete meals made up of four courses for lunch and five for dinner.
The Spanish table was a very long table that occupied the entire dining room, where clients would sit in order of the frequency of their visits. The most privileged position at the centre of the table was reserved for firm regulars, while newer guests were seated at the ends. They were served the same dishes as clients at the French tables.
Other families staying at the spa did not dine in its restaurant. Instead, they rented private kitchens located on the first and second floors, and their staff took care of preparing meals for them. These families ate in private dining rooms each with a capacity for five groups.
If we look back to the fifteenth century, legend has it that King Martin the Humane and his wife, Queen Maria de Luna, travelled to La Garriga after hearing of the virtues of its hot springs. There are credible reports that they used the thermal spring that is currently owned by the spa.
Over the course of all these decades, numerous famous people from the worlds of letters and science, religion, politics and art have visited: Mossen Jacint Verdaguer, Eugeni D’Ors, Enric Prat de la Riba and General Primo de Rivera are just some of them.
In tribute to some of these figures, certain areas of the hotel have been named after them today. An obvious example is one of the hotel’s restaurants, which is called D’Ors Gourmet in commemoration of the distinguished writer Eugeni D’Ors, who took inspiration from the hotel’s gardens during his stay to write his literary work l’Oscenografia del Tedi.
Since the middle of the nineteenth century, the spa became more popular due to several reasons related to the new social, ideological and economic values of the time: the emergence of the bourgeoisie, the popularisation of hygienist ideas that valued natural spaces, interest in thermal springs as a medicinal treatment, the improvement of means of transport and the popularization of taking summer holidays amongst the wealthy classes.
Fulfilling the values of the time, La Garriga benefited greatly from this combination of factors, and during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Barcelona’s bourgeoisie saw it as the perfect location to create a spa destination, which later became a summer resort.
In 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, the spa was turned into a hospital for rheumatism and recovery. The Mauri Foundation documents its time as a hospital. The reconstruction of the spa was by no means an easy feat for the Blancafort family, and numerous financial and legal obstacles threatened its completion along the way. At last, in June 1943, the doors to the spa complex were opened once again.
The sporting festivals were initially sponsored by the Blancafort spa, since it boasted a large esplanade that was fully equipped for use as a sports arena for games and recreation.
From 1912, the area was used to hold the Sporting Festival, where the latest sports from abroad were practised, with lawn tennis, croquet, bike races, target shooting, car racing and others taking place.
Summer tourism experienced a rapid decline after the Civil War due to postwar financial difficulties. Spa culture suffered a corresponding loss in popularity and was forced to take a back seat.
Nevertheless, at the end of the twentieth century, spas began to attract interest once more thanks to new services focused on reducing stress in everyday life and complementary beauty and body treatments.
Respecting its original, charismatic façade, the decision was taken to remodel this health and well-being complex in 2002 with the aim of restoring the former glory it had enjoyed for more than 150 years. It re-opened its doors in 2005.
Today, Hotel Blancafort Spa Termal is a haven of well-being that unites traditional knowledge and innovative therapies with the mineral and medicinal properties of our water to achieve one single aim:
to make every one of our guests feel special and help them achieve a truly inherent sense of well-being