Winter getaways: a panoramic alpine spa The perfect complement – or antidote – to winter sports

If you're looking for an alternative to winter sports or a change from the winter cold, how about spending a day in one of Switzerland's alpine wellness centres?

The Valais boasts no less than four thermal centres, each fed by natural geo-thermal springs. It's an exhilarating feeling to be swathed in warm bubbles in an outdoor illuminated pool, surrounded by heaps of snow – with the water a constant 34C while the air temperature can be as low as -10C!



The Baths

The village of Ovronnaz lies at 1350m on the south-facing slopes above the Rhone Valley, between Martigny and Sion. Benefitting from a micro-climate that guarantees excellent sun and snow conditions throughout the winter months, the thermal spa of Thermalp offers a family-friendly environment especially for those less keen on winter sports. Children up to the age of 7 are welcomed into the thermal baths free of charge, underlining the resort's emphasis on inclusivity.

Fed by the naturally warm springs piped up from under the ground below Leytron (a village famous for its wines), the centre has two outdoor pools kept at a constant 34C; an indoor pool with a separate baby pool; a Jacuzzi for adults only (38C); and all the facilities associated with ‘Alpine Wellness'. If you're there for a weekend break, guests are conducted – by a clever system of interconnected and covered walkways and colour-coded lifts or stairs – to the main reception area without needing to walk outside. The welcoming, high quality restaurant seats up to 240 people, and the bar around 80, both areas offering magnificent panoramic views across the Rhone valley.

The Hammam

In July 2013, Thermalp Ovronnaz was delighted to announce the opening of their recently expanded facility, comprising 1000 square metres of new spa installations. The 10-million-franc building, situated behind the existing indoor pool, now houses two saunas, two steam-rooms, one hammam, a Jacuzzi large enough for 15 people, a quiet room and a subtly lit relaxation room. There's also a new fitness and exercise space. The facility, designed for adults only, caters both for ‘naturists' and those who prefer to keep their bathing costumes on.

The new facilities

World of Senses 

Unique in Switzerland, this is a steam room with a difference. Capable of holding 20 people, and heated to 45C with 100% humidity, the special hammam uses colour therapy, aromatherapy and music therapy. Clients can experience four cycles, each with their own distinctive colour, music and scents.

These include

Blue for a nocturnal journey through Scandinavian forests; green for a dawn escapade somewhere on the southern Med; yellow for a mid-afternoon escape into the mysterious and enchanting Orient; and red for an encounter in East Africa at sunset.

There's a traditionally built Turkish hammam, furnished with Carrera marble and hints of the East, and a Finnish sauna clad in pale wood and with a wall constructed in natural stone.

Prices at Thermalp Ovronnaz vary throughout the year, depending on high or low season, but check out their website for special offers and ‘weekend breaks'. 


How to get there

By train/bus: There are regular trains to Martigny or Sion from all the major Swiss cities. Visitors can take advantage of the ‘all-in-one' tickets offered by CarPostal for the bus ride from Sion/Martigny, plus a day's entry to the thermal baths.

By road: At less than 2 hours' driving time from the centre of Geneva, Ovronnaz lies just off the A9 eastbound autoroute between Martigny and Sion. The A9 connects with the northbound Fribourg-Bern autoroute at Vevey, and from there to other major Swiss cities.


Photo:Caroline Thonger

Author: Caroline Thonger

Caroline worked as Editor-in-Chief for Hello Switzerland for 3 years, responsible for the production of 12 issues of the magazine. London-born, she co-founded the Stratford Writers' Festival. Her first biography "The Banker's Daughter" was published in 2007 (Merton). Working as a freelance translator (4 languages), journalist and editor, she now lives in the Haut Valais.

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