Condé Nast Traveler - Hot List Spas 2012
May 2012

Pure Altitude Spa
Altapura Val Thorens, France

What: A cozy antidote to the Trois Vallées’ snowy climes. The 10,000-square-foot spa has saunas, hammams, an ice igloo, and a pool that extends into the snow. Treatments incorporate edelweiss, birch, and other mountain plants.
The look: Simple and Scandinavian, with an emphasis on rough-hewn stone and slender birch trunks, and areas with whiter-than-white walls/furnishings.
Who goes: Those in need of a serious massage (inspired by Nordic treatments), but also snow bunnies looking for quick beautifying hits.
The sound track: An easy-listening radio station that was surprisingly undistracting.
The treatment: The 50-minute Bulle d’Oxygène Classic Facial steams, massages, and moisturizes mountain-dry skin.
P.S.: Ask for Isabelle, who can create an inspired cosmetic sequence regardless of your skin type.

Nira Spa
Nira Alpina Surlej, Switzerland

What: An après-ski heaven with a convenient location overlooking the slopes in a serious-skiers’ hotel in the Engadine Valley. There’s a huge sauna, a few aroma and steam rooms, and a whirlpool with an underwater “bed.”
The look: Some slick techiness—electronic doors, a stainless steel whirlpool, and mood lighting across the chill-out zones—is softened by quirky sofas resembling oversized pebbles, and a scarlet Smeg fridge stocked with bottled water. The Technogym has massive light boxes with images of the mountains in summer and winter.
Who goes: Achy hotel guests after long days on the slopes.
The sound track: Classical violins.
The treatment: The 55-minute Full Body Freestyle, a bespoke massage by ace masseuse Lucia, who blends essential oils for each client.
P.S.: The spa may feel too busy during peak weeks.

Backstage Hotel Vernissage Zermatt, Switzerland

What: An innovative spa with seven treatment “cubes” representing the seven days of creation. In Cube 4, a sauna, images from the Hubble telescope stream on an LED screen; Cube 5 is a flotation chamber resounding with whale songs.
The look: The timber-and-glass cubes are constructed around a central stainless steel whirlpool. Aromatherapy candles and walls of vertical tropical gardens temper high-tech stuff like movement-sensitive music and video installations.
Who goes: Hotel guests who prefer to skip skiing on bad-weather days (visiting all seven cubes can take up to three hours).
The sound track: From muted dance beats to classical music.
The treatment: French masseur Baptiste will create a massage to suit your mood: He can soothe, pummel, or knead Tiger Balm into your hamstrings after a day on the pistes.
P.S.: Don’t skip Cube 2, where you lie on infrared-heated glass pearls and gaze up at footage of a summer’s day; the lonely clouds come with a sound track of whistling wind.