More than just a passing fancy, the spa is now a standard in the services proposed by most French ski resorts.  A pause “for you” once considered a luxury, now accessible – and recommended – for everyone.

A pause for you

Four o’clock.  While your friends are making their final run down the slopes, you head toward the Spa centre next to your chalet.   You have chosen the “hot stone massage,” but you are hesitant about the the beauty treatments.  Which is right for your skin type?  You decide to find out when you get there, and follow the advice of your hosts who will be looking after you. A fantasy?  Just the opposite – a holiday in the mountains is no longer limited to the outdoors and the fireplace. The spa is another way to ease your tensions.  A moment for yourself, the ideal way to restore your energy, recharge your batteries, and be pampered.  A selfish pleasure whose sole purpose is relaxation, designed to restore and indulge you.

Origins

There are diverging opinions concerning the origin of the term “spa.” One hypothesis is the city of Spa, site of a hot springs in the province of Liège, Belgium, famed for its healing properties.  Others refer to the latin origins: “Sanitas per aqua,” health by water.  The English have opted for the initials SPA, which signifies all types of balneotherapy (the treatment of illness through mineral baths.) In recent years, the term has evolved to include all wellness centres that make use of the virtues of water.  If the difference between spa and balneotherapy seems vague, it is because the two concepts have come together – the term “spa” has evolved to encompass a variety of « zen » treatments that place the individual at the centre of attention. Putting a fresh face on an outdated image associated with the hydrotherapy industry and medical treatments, the spa is a custom service in a warm, cocooning environment with soft lighting….

Treatments

Clearly, each centre adapts its philosophy and choice of options according to the type of treatment.  In general terms, the essence of a spa is the use of water as a treatment. Multi-jets, bubbling hot mineral baths, algae wraps…treatments and benefits which resemble those you would find in a high-end balneotherapy or hydrotherapy centre. At a spa, the focus is on beauty and well-being. Stress-relieving, relaxing or reinvigorating massages, custom therapies, and treatments imported from northern Europe and Asia.  The application of hot oils, creams or hot stones to relieve sore back muscles, tense from the stress of urban life; exfoliation to give your skin back its natural radiance…the art of combining basic body treatments with the esthetic services of your choice.  Exfoliation.  Sooth your body and spirit, and combine the essential with the enjoyable.

Text: Arnault Breysse
Photos: Philippe Royer