Settle into the relaxed vibe of Villars, Switzerland: a ski weekend that doesn't need to be rushed
Cocooned in the blanket-like warmth of the spa, with the Jacuzzi effervescing around me and the open fire crackling away, I gaze out of the floor-to-ceiling windows to a snow-filled January in Villars. Normally, nothing can keep me from tearing down the slopes, carving up powder from sunrise to sunset, so I'm a little surprised at how reluctant I am to swap these spa bubbles for the ski-lift bubbles outside.
I think there must be something in the air at Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland. The pace of life here is gentler, more relaxed, including the slow old carriage train that chugs up to the main lifts so you can cruise easily down a few blues, or a couple of reds if you're feeling more energetic, pre-lunch. Then everyone seems to stop for a long, leisurely lunch and a little snaffle of the local tipple. There's time for a little more laid-back action on the slopes before watching the sunset behind the peaks from a pisteside restaurant, and skiing a torch-lit descent afterwards straight to my hotel, the five-star Chalet Royalp Hôtel.
This ski-in ski-out hotel is the first of its kind in the Swiss Alps, and there's a wonderful sense of space and grandeur in this oversized yet cosy wooden chalet. I have panoramic views of Les Dents du Midi mountains from my bedroom-suite balcony, two restaurants to choose from and ski rental just around the corner. But it's the spa that really hits the spot. With private Jacuzzis, sauna, steam room, a pool with a wave-making button... the list goes on. And on. And then there are the treatments. Using hi-tech products, there's an extensive range from jambes lourds - literally heavy legs - to relax corps - for absolute relaxation. Bliss.
I realise I'm getting incredibly used to this Villars life. Might I be becoming what I've always dreaded: a fair-weather skier? Surely not. I decide to get up early the next morning and get back to my energetic old ways. But maybe there's time for a quick soak in the Jacuzzi with a view first...
Chalet Royalp Hotel & Spa costs from £1,988 per person, including flights from Gatwick or Stansted to Geneva and resort transfers for seven nights half board with Inghams (www.inghams.co.uk; 020 8780 4447). A six day whole area ski pass starts from £186.
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