While skiing or snowboarding is always the main event in almost any winter mountain resort, many people now want more from their winter trip than perfect pistes and an excellent lift system. Always mindful of this, Europe’s highest ski village Val Thorens often introduces new initiatives – this year it’s all centred around wellness.
The resort’s My Serenity programme launched this season was designed in conjunction with Dr Philippe Rodet who specialises in wellbeing. A free booklet is available from the tourist office which offers stress-reducing tips and advice about how to look after your wellbeing in the mountains.
Activities include pre-ski yoga classes which take place in the main square every morning at 8am. The half-hour classes can be done in ski gear and ski boots, with gentle stretching and breathing exercises aimed at preparing you both mentally and physically for a day on the slopes. There’s nothing to stop you joining in even if you are not planning to ski that day – the poses can also be done in ordinary footwear. Other yoga options in the resort include a snowy riverside hike broken up with stops to perform yoga poses and breathing exercise. Alternatively you could try a ‘Cocoon Day’ which offers a morning of yoga followed by an afternoon of steam, sauna, swimming and massage.
Also on offer are Qi Gong classes – an ancient form of gentle exercise originating in China. Qi Gong is based on and ancient idea idea of good and bad energy circulating around the body. Whether or not you subscribe to these beliefs, the gentle stretching and breathing exercises offer a nice way to calm down after a busy day on the slopes.
Mountain resorts with their typical cheese-heavy dishes are not well-known for healthy food, but even this is changing in Val Thorens. This season sees the opening of Supernova, the resort’s first fully-vegetarian restaurant.
Some of the resort’s hotels are also embracing the wellbeing theme. Hotel Pashmina, Val Thoren’s newest five-star hotel, is now offering several yoga classes per week, plus the owner leads a complimentary ski randonée excursion every Wednesday. The hotel’s breakfast includes a ‘healthy corner’ offering several types of milk and of-the-moment ingredients such as spirulina, pollen and even coconut sugar for those following a paleo diet.
Val Thorens has 150 km of pistes with 99% of them between 2000 and 3,230 metres, so it’s pretty much as snow sure as you get in the Alps. Plus it’s part of the 3 Vallées, the world’s largest linked ski area, which bumps the skiable area up to 600 km. Other activities on offer include paragliding, snowmobiling, ice diving and ice driving, as well as snowshoeing or relaxing in one of the many spas for those who prefer something more sedate. The resort’s constant innovation hasn’t gone unnoticed – it’s just won ‘World’s Best Ski Resort’ at the World Ski Awards for the fourth time. As Dr Philippe Rodet who helped develop the My Serenity programme said of Val Thorens: ‘This place has it all – the sports, the people and the scenery – perfect for finding the keys to happiness.’
Double rooms at Hotel Pashmina start at €332 per night half-board based on a week-long stay.
For information about yoga courses visit www.escale-zen.fr