ALL YEAR ROUND
The Alps are synonymous with skiing but alpine geothermal springs and spas are sometimes overlooked.
If the thought of lugging skis, poles and person to the ski lift to spend a day risking life and limb on snow isn’t appealing, or the sun has gone into hiding, then why not head to a mountain spa instead? For inspiration, here are our five favourites in French-speaking Switzerland or Suisse romande.
No. 1 Bains de la Gruyère
This is the newest of the spas on our list so it is still shiny and fresh. The setting is amazing and from the outside pool you look directly out across the countryside towards the Chateau de Gruyères. There are three pools, one reserved for children and a hammam and sauna area for those 16 and over. They also have a full range of facials, body treatments and massages, including a chocolate treatment. It is situated in the village of Charmey, not far from the Cailler chocolate factory in Broc and the Chateau de Gruyères, so your trip could easily be combined with cheese, chocolate or a peek at the Chateau.
No. 2 Lavey Les Bains
This spa claims to have the hottest thermal water in Switzerland with temperatures ranging from 32°C to 36°C depending on the season. There are two main pools and saunas and hammans – male, female and mixed. There is also an ice chamber where you can rub handfuls of snow onto your skin. Lavey Les Bains is surrounded by trees and mountains and is a short drive from the motorway between Martigny and Aigle, making it a great stop either on your way to or from skiing in Valais. At peak times it can get quite crowded.
No. 3 Les Bains d’Ovronnaz
The Ovronnaz spa offers stunning views. Perched on the south side of the main valley in the canton of Valais it looks out across in the direction of Haute Nendaz, part of the 4 Valley ski resort. In addition to the view, Ovronnaz is also a ski resort and nice crisp snow can usually be found on the higher shaded areas well into the spring ski season. For a small premium you can add spa access to your ski lift pass, making it affordable and convenient to combine a day’s skiing with the relaxation of a spa.
No. 4 Bains de Saillon
Not far from the historic hilltop old town of Saillon you will find the Bains de Saillon. There are three thermal pools and one large cooler swimming pool. There is also a restaurant and a children’s area for under 16s with water slides. The saunas and steam baths are well maintained and clean and Saillon is a good option if Lavey Les Bains is crowded. The Carpe Diem Spa includes three different steam baths, two saunas, one of which is outdoors, footbaths and a relaxation pool. There are relaxation rooms and an area for personal therapies, but be forewarned that nudity is recommended and this section is for over 18s only. Saillon is about 15 minutes from Martigny in the direction of Crans Montana and can make a great stop if you are returning from ski resorts in that direction. Saillon is also well known for wine. Discovering some new wines could be something to consider combining with a spa trip – see Le News article on cave ouvertes.
No. 5 Les Bains du Val d’Illiez
The Val-d’Illiez spa is eight kilometres from Champéry, one of the Swiss resorts in the Portes du Soleil ski region. It is surrounded by tree covered hills and farmland and gives you the sense you are away from everything. There is an inside pool at 34°C with central jacuzzi and aquabeds, an outside pool at 34°C with aquabeds, a giant jacuzzi at 35°C, a thermal river with natural non-filtered and non-heated water which is between 22° and 28°C depending on the season, a sauna, a hammam and a tylarium. You are allowed to wear swimming costumes in all facilities. As well as the spa facilities there is a restaurant, a snack bar, a wine bar and chalet style apartments for rent allowing you to stay in the resort. Val-d’Illiez makes a great detour if you are skiing at the Swiss Portes du Soleil ski resorts from Champéry to Morgins.
Closer to home
And if you’re not in the mood for travelling and live near Geneva, Lausanne or Montreux, these three places offer local pampering and relaxation. They are not natural geothermal spas but they are close and they are luxurious.
La Reserve (Geneva)
Beau Rivage Palace (Lausanne)
Willow stream – Montreux palace (Montreux)
Please check with the spa resorts directly for details of what facilities are open, as some outdoor pools and facilities may be closed during the winter season. All websites for these spas are shown above.
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