The perfect winter holiday combo
Ski and spa make the perfect winter holiday combo. If you don’t like skiing, you’ve got a whole menu of skin-nourishing treats to enjoy, and if you do ski – or snowboard – you can complement your activity on the piste with muscle-soothing massage.
But if you are a snow-bunny, don’t wait until after you’ve hit the slopes for your first trip to the spa. A pre-ski massage is the perfect way to start your holiday, and makes excellent use of spare time on that first afternoon before you’ve got a ski pass.
Opt for a sports massage to improve circulation and boost the elasticity of muscles and tendons, which will help cut your chance of injury in those dangerous first few days.
Make sure you also pop into the spa towards the end of a day out skiing – a slot between bootroom and bar is ideal.
Grabbing a post-ski or –snowboard massage will help prevent aches the next day. Your best bet is a session in the steam room followed by a deep-tissue massage (focused on legs and arms) to help ease the build-up of lactic acid after a hard day of activity.
Click through to the next page for our pick of the ski and spa resorts where you can play hard with added wellness benefits...
The Nira Alpina, St Moritz, Switzerland
The Nira Alpina, St Moritz, Switzerland
The ski: With easy access to a vast ski domain in the Engadin Valley, there are a number of action-packed and adrenaline-fuelled alpine sports available in addition to downhill skiing and snowboarding. Try some of the 180km of cross country skiing trails, snowkite lessons, or countless skating rinks and sledging runs.You could even get your pulse racing on the Olympic Bobsleigh run, heli-ski at 3,303 metres or paraglide over the snow-covered mountains.
The spa: Visit the Nira Spa to soak tired muscles and rejuvenate your aching limbs. Experienced therapists offer treatments including the nature-inspired Nira Alpine Journey, soothing with hot stones, woodsticks and pure alpine herb essential oils.
Throw in yoga lessons too and you will be one totally supple ski-Zestie by the end of your trip.
Grand Park Hotel Hofgastein, Salzburg, Austria
The Gastein Valley is known as Austria's 'Health Valley' so the perfect location for skiers who want to combine adrenaline and wellness.
The ski: Bad Hofgastein is part of Ski Amade, a network of 28 ski areas and towns that make up the second largest ski area in Europe. Expect deep-snow and mogul runs, carving hills and free rides along with family slopes - so good for skiers of all levels. There is also snowshoeing, winter hiking (with over 100 kms of winter hiking paths to explore), ice skating, horsedrawn sleigh rides and tobogganing.
The spa: The Grand Spa complex is aptly named, featuring a thermal indoor pool, whirlpools, fitness suite and exercise studio, plus a large heat experience area with a tepidarium, three saunas, two steam rooms, an ice cave and a salt inhalation grotto. Perfect for soothing aching muscles and joints after a day on the slopes, the famous Gastein thermal water flows directly into the Grand Spa’s indoor swimming pool.
If that’s not enough for you, choose from a range of holistic and sport massages, relaxation therapies, yoga, Qi Gong, aqua aerobics, gymnastics, meditation sessions, and beauty treatments. Make time too for a visit to the Gastein Healing Caves, world famous for their pain-relieving, inflammation-reducing and immune-boosting health effects.
Club Med Pragelato Vialattea, Italy
The ski: Sitting at 1,600m, this resort hosted the Turin Winter Olympics in 2006 and has a ski area to match. Snowboarding and cross-country skiing, equipment and tuition are on offer as well as downhill skiing. Three natural parks, mean that non-skiers too have good options, with snow-shoe and hiking available. In a departure from the usual Club Med hotel set-up, accommodation in this resort is in chalets with a central bar and restaurant rendezvous area. There's even a Club Med mountain-top restaurant so you needn't always return to base for lunch.
The spa: The wellness centre at this Club Med resort, which opened new for winter 2012-13, offers a pool, Turkish bath, Finnish and traditional sauna, and treatment rooms at the spa by PAYOT. Opt for a muscle-chilling massage, or book yourself a beauty treatment for a moment away from the frantic fun that's par for the course on a Club Med break.
Hotel Chabichou, Courchevel 1850, France
The ski: Courchevel 1850: need we say more? One of the best ski spots in the Alps with mile after mile of piste and easy access to the neighbouring Meribel valley, and the heights of glacial Val Thorens beyond.
The spa: Hotel Chabichou boasts a prestigious piste-side location complete with Michelin-starred restaurant. The stunning spa relaunched last season as Cha'Banya – a subterranean wellness centre actually under the ski slope with a 51ft pool and treatments using anti-ageing Carita and aromatherapy-based Decleor products. The spa features multi-sensory experiences with a tropical-rain trail, Russian sauna, hammam, Dead Sea pool, polar bath, ice fountain and saline cave. You may have trouble dragging yourself onto the slopes...
Beau-Rivage Palace, Lausanne, Switzerland
The ski: You're not in the heart of a ski resort, but it's a simple journey to the piste from the sparkling shores of Lake Geneva, where this fine hotel enjoys commanding views over the snow-capped mountains. Check in for a few days at the end of your ski break, or hire a car and enjoy multi-resort skiing combined with luxury and wellness at this retreat, which also boasts its own ice rink.
The spa: Among the Leading Spas of the World, the Beau-Rivage Cinq Mondes is a haven of tranquility and offers the ultimate in wellness treatments from around the world. Facilities include steam room, sauna, tropical rain room, pools, jacuzzi, Japanese bath and a fitness centre. The ultimate in old-fashioned European elegance, let yourself relax into its aura of wellbeing, romance and fine living.