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Stunning mountain scenery, hiking trails and thermal spas are year-round attractions for locals and visitors alike in Graubünden, Switzerland’s largest and easternmost canton. Lucy Daltroff visited in late summer and tried out two famous spas    ‘Don’t worry it’s only a ten-minute walk from here,’ said Franziska, our energetic...

Spa-ing in glorious Graubünden

Stunning mountain scenery, hiking trails and thermal spas are year-round attractions for locals and visitors alike in Graubünden, Switzerland’s largest and easternmost canton. Lucy Daltroff visited in late summer and tried out two famous spas 

 

‘Don’t worry it’s only a ten-minute walk from here,’ said Franziska, our energetic guide, as we got off the bus after a beautiful but exhausting mountain hike and my legs were emphatically telling me to sit down. Forty-five minutes later, spotting our hotel in the distance was a great relief – perhaps even to the locals, who were all much fitter than I will ever be!I was in Flims/Laax in the canton of Graubünden, eastern Switzerland and getting here involved a short flight to Zurich and two scenic train rides. Ten thousand years ago the biggest Alpine landslide of all times occurred in the countryside here, leaving scattered boulders in its wake and creating a stunning landscape among the mountains. The resort was originally known as a summer spa town, because of its location, sheltered from the wind and with spectacular views, lakes and mountains. Hotels started to appear at the end of the 19th century, and although now, winter sports have increased its popularity, the hiking and biking trails make it a year-round destination.

The Rocksresort is modern but sympathetically built of local stone and its winter attraction is that it leads straight on to the ski slopes. It’s a great location for families especially as next door is a building called The Freestyle Academy. I am not particularly sporty but even I was able to marvel at the tremendous facilities. These include vertical ski and bicycle runs, trampolines and skate boards tracks, so that children can learn demanding sports in a safe environment.During my visit to Graubünden I was lucky enough to try two famous spas. The first, in the centre of Flims, was at the historic five-star Hotel Waldhaus, the area’s original hotel, built in 1875.


The grounds constitute the biggest hotel park in Switzerland. The majestically proportioned public rooms somehow made it less surprising to come across a wall covered by an original painting by local boy, Alberto Giacometti, the famous artist and sculptor.

The hotel’s Delight Spa is part of the Leading Spas of the World collection and covers an area of 2,500 square meters. The pools are made from quartzite rock and are interconnected inside and outside. The outdoor water is really warm, which must be especially appreciated in the winter when the pool is surrounded by snow and at night when the main hotel building is lit up. Also outdoors is an Earth sauna alongside a natural swim pond and a Bio pool complete with large fish that boasts an ice hole in winter.


In keeping with many Swiss spas, certain areas are ‘au naturel’ although there are saunas and steam rooms in the separate women and men’s sections. I went into the Bio spa, without reading the notice and so was surprised to see I was the only person wearing swimwear – as I had inadvertently entered the nude zone.

The varied treatments on offer for singles or couples include Cellcosmet and Cellmen; cellular substances to combat skin ageing and enhance skin revitalisation, and Maria Galland skin care which includes a Soin Cocoon of gauze and foam. There is also a cosmetic room offering professional make up services. The spa is famous for its three and four day detox programmes and also offers a variety of membership packages covering single day and ten-day passes.

The next day I travelled south of Flims/Laax in two local buses to the beautiful mountain village of Vals, where the natural thermal spring water has attracted people since before the Bronze age! Today it is the source of the Valser Mineral Water sold throughout Switzerland.


Therme Vals was built over the thermal springs in 1996. Designed by architect Peter Zumthor, it is both an hotel and a spa, combining modern architecture with nature and local tradition. The use of local Valser quartzite slabs creates light and shade as well as open and enclosed spaces, which makes the spa good to look at and be in – unusual yet calming. The most famous signature treatment is Watsu, which I was not lucky enough to experience, but told it takes place in 35°C water. The therapist stands chest-deep and moves the client in accordance with predetermined figures, combining the positive properties of water with basic Shiatsu movements.
Floating in the water, the body undergoes passive lengthening and stretching, with the pressure of the water enhancing the technique. The weightlessness induces relaxation – and the treatment also benefits from the healing properties of the thermal process, which improves circulation and joint mobility.

Left to my own devices, I enjoyed the flower pool with its lovely scent and warm water although I knew that the contrast between the hot and cold plunge pools was the more heroic and energizing option. But secretly I believed that coming out of the pool and lying on a lounger facing the beauty of the valley looking up at the mountains was perhaps the most exhilarating experience of all.

Lucy flew to Zurich with www.swiss.com and stayed at:
Signinahotel
Talstation
7032 Laax
Visit www.signinahotel.com for hotel rates/packagesLucy also visited:
Rocksresort
7032 Laax
Switzerland
www.designhotels.com/rocksresort rates from 148 CHF per night.Waldhaus Flims Mountain Resort & Spa
Via dil Parc
7018 Flims
Switzerland
Tel: +41 81 928 48 48
Visit www.waldhaus-flims.ch for hotel rates /packages and spa menuTherme Vals
CH-7132 Vals
Therme Tel: +41 (0)81 926 89 61
Hotel Tel: +41 (0)81 926 80 80
Visit www.therme-vals.ch/en for hotel rates/packages and spa menu Entrance to the spa costs 40 CHF

For more information on the area visit http://pure.graubunden.com

 

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