When you think about it, water, the giver of life, is the skiers best friend, in many ways. When it’s frozen or in snow form it gives joy to millions of them. After a day on the mountain many of those skiers will wallow in water’s heated and vapourised version, in hot tubs, jacuzzi’s, heated swimming pools, saunas and hot showers to soothe the days exertions. It’s no wonder then that Spa retreats are so popular in the Alps. It’s the perfect combination a day on the slopes and then blissful recovery in the Spa.
That’s before you add in the massages and dizzying array of spa treatments now available. Physically and psychologically water exercises both body and soul. A spa is now an integral part of the ski-holiday experience. Here is my choice of three of the best spa retreats.
The Backstage Hotel Spa, Zermatt
At the Backstage they’ve took the spa experience to another level. They offer a 7 day programme called “The Genesis Of The World”. You are invited to experience the story of creation. After a short introduction, Day 1 “The Light” finds you in a darkened steam room with heartbeat light with a light and shadow art projection. Day 2 “Separation Of Water And Air” Here you lie down in a field of infra-red heated glass pearls whose temperature transfers heat to your body to produce hormones that are beneficial. The warmth penetrates deep into the body to stimulate the skin an muscles. Day 3 “World Of Plants” You immerse yourself in a tropical bath and inhale lavender aromas that cleanse your respiratory tract. Day 4 “Creation Of The Planets & Tides” Step into the sauna and experience a cosmic silence, while you gaze in awe at images from the Hubble Telescope. Day 5 “Animal World” You float in a salt bath chamber and hear Whale and Dolphin song and the sound of birds. Day 6 “The Human Being” Water, peeling and calming skin cleansing with a video installation. Day 7 “Rest & Meditation” Wander into the meditation room, light a candle, gaze at Michelangelo’s masterpiece ‘Creation of Adam’, while soothing classical music is piped into the room. Granted it all sounds hippy-trippy and new-agey . . but I’ve got to admit I felt refreshed after every session, it’s an interesting concept if nothing else.
If none of the above appeals, don’t worry the Backstage doesn’t stint on all the regular spa features and boasts a lovely rooftop spa area where you can take in the wonderful scenery too.
Gstaad Palace Spa, Gstaad
Ideally, after a day on the piste, you should soothe your muscles with a steam treatment, followed by a deep-tissue massage. Most skiers get on to the slopes only once or twice a year, so they are going to ache, so what better excuse can there be to head to the hotel spa?. The Palace Spa is top notch, state-of-the-art and just the place to go for it’s wonderful facilities and a fantastic range of treatments, all in keeping with the legendary customer service that the Gsaad Palace is renown for providing. It’s exclusive facilities are spread over 1800m2 and includes eight treatment rooms, a private spa suite, saunas, steam baths, relaxation areas with magical views. An indoor pool and a heated outdoor pool await you along with a jacuzzi, a superbly equipped gym and a Pilates studio, not to mention a unique hammam experience with seven rooms.
The Palace committed to a major investment to create and extraordinary wellness centre which exceeds the expectations of the most discerning spa connoisseur. The centrepiece in the spa is a 60 metre long wall, built from granite sourced from the Blausee region in the Bernese Oberland. Over 50 tons of rock was cut into small sections and re-assembled into a stunning architectural masterpiece. You could easily spend all day in this spa, hopping from one section to the next. The outdoor pool was my favourite, there’s something really magical about being outdoors in freezing temperatures and plunging into a warm pool, very invigorating.
K2 Spa, Courchevel 1850
Spa treatments can be helpful right at the start of your vacation. Take a pre-ski massage, for instance. A great way to begin your holiday, it draws a line under your working week and a tiring journey, improves circulation and increases muscle and tendon elasticity – all of which reduce the chance of injury on the slopes. Likewise, a post-ski massage improves circulation, helps to break down the build-up of lactic acid that can occur when muscles have worked hard, and reduces the onset of muscle soreness.
I’m a sucker for an outdoor pool in the winter and the pool at K2 is a blinder. It overlooks the valley below and affords an incredible panorama. The pool area also boasts a waterfall, hammam, hot and cold baths and an outdoor hot tub. The state-of-the-art gym is wonderfully well equipped and my favourite piece of equipment here was the bike simulator that allows you take on mythical alpine climbs. A qualified coach is on hand to give advice and motivate you. The Goji Spa is for those who like to try all the weird and wonderful and ever more peculiar facial and body treatments on offer nowadays, a caviar firming facial treatment anyone? surely a waste of caviar! Or how about a tea bag face mask? I made that up but you get the picture. The K2 is a fantastic hotel, the spa doesn’t let it down. Definitely up there with the best of the best.
Rebecca Taylor is Director at SkiBoutique.
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