Known for its pristine mountain air and curative waters, the South Caucasus country of Georgia used to be closely associated during the Soviet era with doctor-prescribed rest and relaxation.
The tumult of two decades of independence eroded the country’s reputation as a place to relax and rejuvenate. But these days, policymakers and some investors are eyeing the country’s aging spas as an opportunity to gain a share of the $2-trillion global spa-and-wellness market.
“If Turkey has well-developed seaside resorts, we have spa resorts like Abastumani, or Borjomi, or Sairme, or Tsqaltubo,” asserted Georgian real-estate investor Lasha Papashvili, naming some of the country’s most popular alpine resorts.
In Abastumani, one of the country’s oldest health-resort destinations, located in southwestern Georgia, the air is reputed to ease the symptoms of asthma, bronchial infections and even tuberculosis. In Tsqaltubo, a tiny hamlet tucked into the foothills of western Georgia, the slightly radioactive thermal waters have been credited with curing everything from infertility to paralysis.
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Molly Corso is a freelance journalist who also works as editor of Investor.ge, a monthly publication by the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia.