Man’s relationship with the health giving properties of water is as old as the hills. Many town’s and cities in Europe have risen to prominence because of the natural springs and spa’s they developed around. The Roman’s built bath houses in many of these town’s and cities to facilitate the use of the healing properties thought to have been contained in the waters and to luxuriate and relax in social groups. When the Roman’s left and locked the door behind them, bathing went out of fashion, the medieval church tried to close down the public baths and what was once considered to be the height of civilisation was now considered the work of the devil himself. It was widely believed that the bath houses were the cause of disease and illness and certainly not the cure. By the 18th century we’d come full circle, the wealthy flocked to the spa resorts around Europe and the pastime became respectable once more.
It doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination to transfer the idea of spa’s and all things watery and relaxing to a private residence. The Alpine luxury chalet stock is awash, no pun intended, with rain showers, hammams, saunas, jacuzzi’s, baths of all shapes and sizes and outdoor hot tubs. It’s easy to see the attraction of an outdoor hot tub. There you are, wallowing in the hot water, in sub zero temperatures, steam rising, laughing and chatting, sipping champagne or glugging a beer or two. Or maybe just the two of you, a romantic rendezvous, with the stars for a canopy and views to die for. Or just the pleasure of your own company, a chance for a little naval gazing, star gazing and praising the amazing scenery on offer. All this can add up to an experience that stays in the memory long after the winter snow has melted. Here are five pretty special examples for you to perhaps dip your toe in one lucky day.
Infinity Lodge, Chamonix
The hot tub at Infinity Lodge above Chamonix is a case in point. In the evening, on a clear night it almost feels like you are amongst the stars. High above the Chamonix valley, standing proud in a vertiginous location, you can see the lights of Chamonix far below. It’s a double whammy, floating in the water and floating in mid air, heady stuff indeed. The view is panoramic and exceptional, as you can see from the image below.
Backstage Chalet, Zermatt
The prize for imagination and ingenuity goes to the Backstage Chalet in Zermatt. The renown polymath and son of Zermatt, Heinz Julen, has conceived and executed the last word in hot tub wizzardry. Hold tight for the ride of a lifetime, the tub actually rises, with the aid of hydraulics, from this top floor residence, up and out through the roof. Once out in the open, the 360 degree, uninterrupted views are amazing. This James Bondesque decadence is going to set the bar high for some time to come. It’s pretty hard to imagine how this could be topped. If it is, my money’s on Heinz Julen to come up with another topper.
Chalet Saphire, Morzine
Chalet Saphire has the perfect seating area beneath the stars with a fire pit for you to toast marshmallows. To add to the existing wellness facilities that Saphire provides, there is an outdoor hot tub and barrel sauna with picture postcard views over Morzine.
Chalet No. 14, Verbier
After a glorious sunny afternoon spent on the south facing slopes you return to No. 14 to be greeted by friends and family who are gathered on the vast Ibiza-style terrace. Some snuggled under the warm furs, where the fire cauldron is aflame, and others taking their first dip in the cedar wood hot tub; the party has clearly started and the Champagne is flowing freely. Views of the surrounding mountains beyond take your breath away, unlike the water which is warm and inviting.
Chalet Ferme de la Corderie, Les Gets
With a large south facing terrace, hot tub and a sledging area for the children, Ferme De La Corderie makes the most of the outside space. The chalet is just a few minutes drive from the centre of the resort but has a feeling of peace and calm that will leave you truly refreshed and relaxed. The views from the hot tub are exceptional.
Danny Frith is Director at SkiBoutique. SkiBoutique is a luxury ski chalet agency based in Switzerland.