Taking time out from life is a joyful experience. When is the right time to let serenity feed your soul? Read Ariane’s notes from her recent spa escape in the Swiss Alps
Winter is slowly winding down, and thoughts of long, sunny days at the lake are starting to infiltrate my mind. Though I have three decades of experience braving harsh Eastern Canadian temperatures, I still struggle with the lack of sunshine and fog that dominate Switzerland during the winter months. Lucky for Swiss residents, the sunshine can often be found at the top, where sprawling ski hills and quaint cabins sprinkle the mountain ranges.
Each year, just before the springtime blooms and the sunshine hours extend into night, I set off on a spa escape with my best friend. This time away allows us a moment to recharge our bodies, minds, and spirits before getting back to the obligations and duties of our day-to-day lives.
This year, we decided to explore the beautiful Alpine village of Leukerbad (Loèche-les-Bains ) in the canton of Wallis (Valais).
Easily accessible by public transit, we embarked on a 30-minute bus from the Leuk train station, which deposited us a few minutes away from our hotel, De France By Thermalhotels. The bus ride up offered stunning views of the Alps, sprawling pine forests, and cozy cottages. A perfect way to start the weekend!
We booked the hotel based on its proximity to the Walliser Alpentherme & Spa Leukerbad, one of three thermal bathing spots in Leukerbad. At 1400M altitude, Leukerbad is a typical Swiss vacation town, where restaurants, gift shops, and a few banks are the only commercial offerings. If you are looking for a respite from the city, there are few places more suitable than here.
After a quick check-in, we crossed the street to the spa (we realized later that there was in fact an underground tunnel connecting our hotel to the spa, super convenient if you don’t want to lug around your outdoor gear).
The spa, which is sprawled over 11,000 square meters, includes a shopping and eating area leading into the main entrance. Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese spa treatments are on offer, and the indoor and outdoor swimming pools are filled with natural spring water straight from the Leukerbad mountains. A traditional Valaisian Sauna Village complete with steam bath, Swiss Chalet, and glacial pond are available to guests. There is also a Roman-Irish Bath, where cleansing rituals are performed over a 2-hour luxe session. Full relaxation and stress-release are pretty much guaranteed. Our hotel included free access to the thermal pools with our booking, but otherwise, the thermal spa can be accessed with a day pass that costs only CHF30. The pools open from 9:00-20:00 every day.
Access to sauna area is at a surcharge, and fluctuates depending on the treatments booked.
We had a quick, traditional Swiss lunch before gearing up in our robes and bathing suits, and hit the water.
The outdoor pool was where we spent most of our time over the weekend. Sunshine beat down on us as we chatted and laughed in a surprisingly unpacked pool. From the outside pool area, the views of the Daubenhorn mountain are spectacular. The mountain, which has an altitude of 2350M, offers the longest secured climbing trail in the country, but it is not recommended for beginners! The trek up to the top takes an estimated 6 hours, and offers incredible views of the Canton. You can see as far as Italy from the top, a treat for all nature lovers.
With relaxation our main priority, we bathed in the thermal waters, feeling completely connected to the natural world, nestled among the beautiful Alps. The snow shimmered in the sunshine, looking like it was filled with tiny diamonds. Watching skiers make their way up and down the small ski run completed the experience. In the distance, the magnificent Torrenthorn mountain peaks through, providing an Alpine panorama that will take your breath away.
Switzerland certainly has no shortage of fine thermal spas, and there are options that suit every taste. Accessible from all parts of the country via rail, the Walliser Alpentherme & Spa Leukerbad is a great pick if you want to beat the winter blues and find comfort in the simplicity and beauty of the Swiss Alps.
If you want to experience a traditional Swiss escape, you can’t get much closer than this.