Is your idea of relaxation a state-of-the-art jacuzzi at 3,000ft? Or would you be more at home wallowing in mineral-infused mud in a natural geothermal pool? We take a look at some of the best ski resorts for spas across the world

 

Nozama Onsen, Japan

Japan is well known for reliable deep powder and incredible backcountry routes,  but spa culture is also part of everyday life. It is a volcanically active country where locals and tourists make use of the geothermal heat which bubbles up to the surface, enjoying long soaks in hot springs (known as onsens) both indoors and outdoors. After a long day carving trails through the famous Japanese snow, skiers and snowboarders have the opportunity to make the most of the natural relaxing qualities of the landscape and sink into steaming baths. You’ll find onsens in most Japanese ski resorts but we would recommend Nozama Onsen: the clue is in the name. This historic town is one of the oldest, largest and most popular ski resorts, considered by some to be the birthplace of skiing in Japan. Visitors can access 297 snowy hectares of terrain and the town itself is very traditional with winding cobbled streets and a total of 13 onsens to choose from. It’s not just the skiers who make use of the hot springs either, from Nozama Onsen you can visit nearby Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park and see the monkeys keeping cosy in their own natural spas. 

Andy Yeo

St Moritz, Switzerland

If you are looking for high-end spa facilities, Switzerland’s most glamorous ski resort should be at the top of your list. Originally a spa town for 150 years, St Moritz is the natural choice for snowsports enthusiasts seeking the crème de la crème of spa luxury. The town is split into two areas: Dorf is home to several five-star hotels and sits perched high on the hill overlooking the lake, while Bad is its lakeside counterpart. The resort has an abundance of wellness activities to get stuck in to, you can enjoy a jacuzzi at 3,000 ft, float in whirlpools and the highest carbonated springs in Switzerland or submerge yourself in invigorating alpine moor mud. 

If you’d like to stay indoors, you can explore state-of-the-art herbal and bio saunas said to stimulate the metabolism and nervous system, or indulge in scalp therapy and hydro massage showers. Personal training is available along with guided meditation and yoga with incredible views of the landscape. Various medical centres also give visitors access to tailored holistic wellness programmes, making St Moritz a destination for healing and recuperation. The resort gives access to 350km of slopes but if you’re looking for more than just piste-time, it has a whole mountain which is kept aside for non-ski activities. 

As a two-time winter Olympic host, the legacy for winter sports still lives on with the winter polo world cup, snow cricket, snowshoeing and bobsledding on the world famous Cresta Run toboggan course. As a whole, the resort is not architecturally traditional or quaint, quite the opposite. Designer shop fronts and blocky construction make it mostly visually unremarkable but what it’s what’s inside that counts, and the spa facilities are second to none. Ever tried an infra-red cabin or effervescent whirlpool? Maybe now is the time.

Robert Boesch

Soelden, Austria

The Austrian state of Tirol is home to hundreds of resorts and most hotels offer excellent spa facilities such as pools, saunas and massage services. But nestled between the expansive resorts of Soelden and Kuhtai is the daddy of Austrian spas, aptly named Aqua Dome. The futuristic-looking building measures a colossal 22,000m2 and has twelve indoor and outdoor pools with water temperatures varying from 93–97°F. The architecture of the building is remarkable, with enormous pools suspended metres above the ground like lotus leaves and striking glass prisms and panels spiking out of the snow. The area has always been associated with healing springs and used to be known as Längenfelder Baths. Water travels an impressive 6,000 feet underground from the Ötztal valley but is cooled from a scorching 104°F to allow visitors to enjoy it.

Originating from deep inside the earth, the water is a sulfur spring and its chemical content means it is legally recognised as a mineral spring. The baths are open all year round and you can even enjoy night swims and a moonlight buffet and prosecco at the thermal bath restaurant Einkehr. After a dip in the energising pools, there are plenty of spa treatments to choose from. Along with classic options such as aromatic oil massage, salt scrubs and manicures, there are some interesting regional specialities; ever heard of sheep’s wool cocooning? It is a massage using small balls of sheep's wool with a herbal mix of pine and alpine rose. The lanolin in the wool is said to promote positive effects on the circulation and the treatment is accompanied by native mountain herb incense. If you can’t face leaving the resort, The Bergland Hotel’s Sky Spa has 1,700m2 of facilities including an outdoor whirlpool, panorama gallery and open-air meditation, so you’ll definitely find your zen!

Courchevel, France

In 2016 Aquamotion opened after seven years of anticipation, providing a leisure centre for the Three Valleys where everyone can find the perfect way to relax. You can surf indoors with the artificial wave pool or completely escape the noise in the calming ‘silencium.’ To pamper the ski legs, you can enjoy different types of hydromassage along with leg toning baths and even cryotherapy. Cold therapy numbs the nerves around the joints, thereby reducing pain and relieving inflammation and muscle spasms. The undulating shape of the building is designed to fit seamlessly into the landscape, cleverly concealing the 9,800m2 structure under a rolling blanket of snow.

There is a salt water pool which is kept at 32 degrees and sauna and steam rooms to eliminate all the toxins from afternoons at après, leaving you fresh and revitalised for the next day skiing. At 1850, most hotels have their own spas and chalets have hot tubs. In nearby Brides-les-bains, another new spa has opened this winter. Thermes des Brides-les-bains is a super-sleek and stylish spa which has gorgeous earthy and minimal décor to help you clear your mind and fully relax with 2,700m2 of zen space. Indulge in a special after-ski break where you can dip into an 82ft swimming corridor, flex your muscles in the aquagym or explore the relaxation pool with its swan-neck massaging jets and bubble benches. The relaxation facilities also don’t disappoint. You’ll find aromatic and plant steam baths, indoor and outdoor jacuzzis and refreshing ice showers. Do you have the tenacity to submerge yourself in the frost fountain shower? 

Bláfjöll, Iceland 

The desolate natural beauty and temperamental landscape of Iceland draws visitors from all over the world, but what is the skiing like? Half an hour from the capital Reykjavik, is the country’s largest ski resort, Bláfjöll. 15km of runs are served by 15 lifts and with no trees, the resort is ideal for learners and intermediates. The resort is also open for night skiing and if you’re lucky, you might witness the northern lights: dazzling collisions of electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth's atmosphere. In the north, the mythical-sounding Trollaskagi peninsula is a ski kingdom all of its own and is becoming a popular destination for backcountry carving and ski mountaineering. Heli and cat skiing trips give access to untouched gulleys and chutes stretching from high in the mountains all the way down to the arctic sea. Another popular resort in the north is Hlíðarfjall, close to the northern capital of Akureyri which has 14km of runs and sits at the end of one of the longest fjords in the country. Further south, Skessuhorn Mountain is known as the ‘Icelandic Matterhorn’ and draws freeride skiers who are keen to conquer a mountain close to the capital.

Cross-country skiing is also popular in the highland region of Landmannalaugarr where skiers can traverse through desolate black lava fields left from a huge eruption in 1477. The active volcanic landscape certainly isn’t shy, and the raw energy erupts from the surface as geysers and geothermal pools. Locals and visitors make the most of the healing and relaxing properties of hot springs in locations across the country, but the most famous is Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik. Bathers can sink into the naturally heated pool and apply the mineral infused silica and algae deposits which exfoliate the skin, leaving it soft and rejuvenated. The Blue Lagoon is the perfect place to let your weary bones soak after a long day skiing or hiking past frozen waterfalls and hypnotising ice caves. Iceland is steeped in folklore and its legends of trolls and battles coupled with the striking landscape make it the perfect place to relax, recharge and let nature feed your imagination. Iceland gives skiers and snowboarders the opportunity to carve out a unique path in a landscape which is forever changing.