Inside the Floating Experience at Palace Merano

October 10, 2023 by Andy Martell

Palace Merano is a luxury health and wellness property located in the spa town of Merano, in the South Tyrol region of Italy. The hotel offers the most innovative wellness techniques and is dedicated to helping guests achieve longevity as a leader in preventive healthcare

Just this year, Palace Merano launched a new Floating Experience. We recently sat down with the hotel’s wellness experts to learn more about the program and the healing benefits of sensory deprivation.

What motivated your team’s interest in flotation therapy?

Let’s define the concept of health as a rediscovered psychophysical well-being. The Floating Experience is part of a new Palace Merano wellness project aimed at neurosensory rebalancing. The experience will be part of a new circuit of treatments strongly focused on relaxation and stress relief, to provide a total restart for the body. Floating or sensory deprivation tanks offer several benefits to the body and mind: it relieves symptoms of anxiety and depression and is used as therapy for people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders or burnout syndrome; it improves learning ability and stimulates concentration, memory, and creativity; it enhances sleep, mood, and helps balance cortisol hormone levels; it effortlessly detoxifies the body due to the composition of the water enriched with Epsom salts; it aids in muscle relaxation and at the same time improves athletic performance by providing more energy, endurance, strength, and faster recovery; it strengthens the immune system. The absence of gravity allows the body to naturally release healing energy.

Can you tell us more about the origin of the Floating Tank? When were the benefits recognized?

Floating and isolation tanks were invented in 1954 by American physician and neuroscientist John C. Lilly to test the effects of sensory deprivation on the brain. Lilly demonstrated that brain waves are significantly altered in this state of deep relaxation, making the client highly receptive to new information. The presence of theta brainwaves (produced during sleep or deep meditation) is known to be extremely favorable for learning, problem-solving, emotional stability, and increased creativity. Studies have also shown that the more regularly one undergoes floating sessions, the longer theta waves last.

It is known that American football teams, Carl Lewis, and John Lennon used this type of equipment to prepare for sports events or to treat addictions. Can you tell us more about the scientific studies conducted and the benefits of these sensory isolation sessions?

Floating therapy helps reduce physical stress and enhances the body’s athletic capabilities. Many sports teams (such as the Vancouver Canucks, NFL teams like the Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, and various baseball teams), celebrities, and historical figures (actors Susan Sarandon and Jeff Bridges, athletes Novak Djokovic, Michael Phelps, Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jackson, Robin Williams) have used and regularly use flotation and isolation therapy. Floating tanks are used three times a week in physiotherapy by the Australian Institute of Sport for the treatment of sports injuries and rehabilitation.
Based on research conducted on 60-minute floating sessions, cortisol stress hormone levels significantly decrease. This helps the body achieve homeostasis: the body’s own ability to self-heal and self-regulate, maintaining a constant internal environment despite changes in the external environment. The zero-gravity floating tank is a highly productive stress modulation technique and one of the simplest available to us.

Is this a new generation of tanks? Does the Palace Merano’s tank have a more rare or unique specificity compared to other machines?

Floating tanks or sensory deprivation tanks are produced in 62 different models, mainly in the United States where Floating Therapy was invented. The tank used at Palace Merano is a state-of-the-art Premium Floating Tank, recognized in 2009 as the best tank on the European market. The substantial difference and consequently the specificity of the Premium Floating Tank lie in water filtration, sterilization, and, above all, water storage. Upon entering the dedicated cabin, the guest finds the Floating Tank completely empty; only once the session is started, the tank is filled with a 30% Epsom salt solution, heated to body temperature. This solution undergoes physical water filtration (filters) and two sterilizations (H2O2 – active oxygen, UV lamp). Additionally, the high percentage of dissolved salts prevents bacterial proliferation. During periods of tank inactivity, the system continues to sterilize and filter the water inside the storage tank.

On what occasions is floating offered to Palace Merano clients?

We are currently studying a targeted package that includes the sensory deprivation tank, and it will also be offered as an extra treatment in combination with other Palace Merano packages or treatments.

How many sessions are typically recommended to feel real physical and mental benefits?

We recommend 1 or 2 sessions within the week of treatment. The first session if you are new to it, and the second to fully experience the benefits.

Does the client request it from their doctor at Palace Merano? Or is it the doctor who suggests/prescribes it based on the client’s health status?

Both, as the Palace Merano wellness and treatment programs include at least one medical visit.

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