Travel Editor Frank Baldwin reports on how one ski specialist has upgraded the spa and wellness facilities in its luxury chalets.
I have experienced many weird and wonderful spa and wellness treatments over the years but one of my most unusual personal experiences was during a golf holiday to Bad Gastein in Austria.
I was transported, with several other people on a small underground train, deep into the Hohe Tauern mountain range to cave-like dormitories – one for women and one for men. We were left to lie down in complete darkness for about 30 minutes.
This was to take advantage of the healing properties of the Heilstollen caves. The benefits were originally discovered by gold miners who found the cave air, which is rich in radon, helped alleviate arthritis and joint disorders. The therapeutic healing properties for these and other respiratory ailments and skin conditions were confirmed in the 1940s following scientific studies.
Above ground, enjoying spa and wellness treatments surrounded by spectacular scenery is nothing new and has been offered in mountain locations for many decades. But in recent years these experiences have been extended and can range from standard massages and spa facilities, to the more unusual wellness treatments such as being beaten with branches or covered in mud!
I have even taken part in a yoga class on skis on the pistes of St Moritz in Switzerland, and this is another example of how winter sports holiday wellness programmes have grown enormously in popularity over the past two decades.
To cater for this growth, and in response to feedback from guests, VIP SKI has upgraded five of its luxury chalets in the French ski resort of Avoriaz with new spa facilities including indoor pools, sauna/hammams, and indoor or outdoor hot tubs.
The various water-based therapies have proven health benefits, especially after a day skiing or snowboarding. The soothing effect of hydrotherapy jets helps alleviate physical and mental stress by supporting the body and relieving weight off the joints. It can also lower blood pressure and help metabolism. Research also suggests that relaxation after a soak in a hot tub can promote deeper and more restful sleep.
Two of the upgraded chalets, Kakisa (featuring a new indoor pool and sauna/hammam) and Kobuk (with a new sauna/hammam) are located on the piste, offering stunning views across Les Portes du Soleil; and the other three, Ipaka (new indoor pool, and sauna/hammam), Kipnuk (new indoor hot tub), and Sakami (new outdoor hot tub) are situated in the village centre, where there are many sunny terraces to sit back and enjoy the lively atmosphere and watch the horse drawn sleighs go past.
Alongside the new spa facilities, all VIP SKI luxury chalets offer cosy log fires
and boot rooms (with boot warmers). All chalet holidays are fully catered offering chalet host services, welcome champagne and canapes, complimentary toiletries, and daily cleaning.
Bookings are now open for the 2023/24 winter season, which starts on December 15, 2023. A week’s stay at Chalet Kakisa, arriving 14 January 2024, is priced from £1,229 per person (including saver week £100 discount for early booking), based on two sharing. Price includes chalet-board accommodation (cooked breakfast, afternoon tea, three-course evening meal on six nights and welcome champagne and canapé reception), VIP SKI’s classic chalet service and return transfers to Geneva.
Avoriaz is part of Les Portes du Soleil which includes a dozen ski areas in France and Switzerland. It claims to be the largest linked ski area in the world. For more information on VIP SKI go to vip-chalets.com.