Most of the Soviet Union was much closer to the North Pole than to the equator. Spending a vacation by the warm Black Sea was a highly coveted incentive for Soviet workers. Lenin initiated the construction of health resorts along the Black Sea coast.  The spas offered a regimen of relaxation, fresh air, proper diet and restorative treatments such as mud therapy or mineral springs.  Many of the health resorts were the former palaces of Russian nobility that were converted to public use and managed by trade unions. In the 1920s and 1930s, opulent new sanatorias were built in the town of Sochi in the Northern Caucuses.  Deemed the “workers’ paradise,” exemplary workers could unwind after making a contribution to a Five-Year Plan, the development plans that were the organizing principle for many of the country’s policy goals. Stalin had his summer home, a ‘dacha,’ built there.  The old Soviet health resorts still exist today, many of them owned by newly rich businessmen of Russia.

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