5-Star French Winter Wellness at Pashmina, Val Thorens

Hotel Pashmina

Photos Credit: Hotel Pashmina

The luxurious Pashmina Spa Hotel Le Refuge prides itself on being at the top of the three valleys, at an altitude of 2,350 meters. Val Thorens, which opened in 1971 is the highest ski resort in Europe, renowned for the quality and guarantee of its snow and long season (from the 26th of November to first of May). In its infancy, Val Thorens attracted free spirits to what was viewed as the frontier of alpine development.

We stayed at the hotel during their Winter Camp—an active week aimed at adventures and sportsmen offering ski touring, snowshoeing, conferences with alpinists and explorers, and thankfully for me, ski lessons and yoga classes. With fall around the corner, now is a great time to start planning your snowy getaway for the upcoming months.

Hotel Pashmina

The hotel's cozy setting takes its inspiration from the softest, warmest and richest wool in the world, which is apparent in the geodesic igloo pods where guests stay. It's a surreal experience, that most see in marketing photos— but it's better than what you imagine. This is glamping under the stars at its finest.

What’s even more special is that igloos are built directly on the slopes; you can watch people speedily ski past and feel their adrenaline. They are beautifully decorated and fully equipped inside with a log burning fire, proper bathroom with heated floor, sink, shower and radiator, plenty of blankets, furry bits, cute slippers and super thick dressing gowns.The staff come and light the fire at night after the sun has gone down and the temperature drops, I loved coming ‘home’ to a tray of cakes and hot tea with (electric) candles lit. We felt like kids and it was hard to sleep from excitement as we just wanted to peek outside and gaze at the sky. There is room for a little one too if there are three of you, as there’s an alcove with a single bed up some small steps. Staying so close to nature, we awoke at sunrise to the fresh powdery snow and I was eager to get myself fitted out in the ski shop for my first ever ski lesson on the slopes in the sunshine. I had ever so slightly prepared myself with a couple of pre-trip lessons on the dry slope at Chelski, which I highly recommend.

Hotel Pashmina

Val Thorens has the perfect conditions to learn how to ski. After two hours of instruction per day, by day two I felt comfortable and confident enough to go off on the baby slopes. And after a day of skiing, I truly understand why the sport and spa is the perfect combo. There’s no better feeling than stepping into a hot steam room or sauna after being on the slopes and then having a massage to ease any aches and pains in the muscles. My body was certainly grateful for it and ready for another day of lessons.

The flashy and funky pink and blue 400-square-meter Spa by L’Occitane offers a range of natural, authentic treatments and massages inspired by traditional techniques. For those brave enough to momentarily brave the ice cold temperatures there’s an outdoor hot tub. It’s worth it for the view which you can also get from the sauna!

Hotel Pashmina

The hotel has two restaurants, Le Base Camp made by the award-winning Romuald Fassenet who was awarded the Meilleur Ouvrier de France accolade (Best Craftsman in France), offering quality produce and authentic, refined dishes to be savored in a relaxed atmosphere with the mountains as a backdrop. And the Michelin-starred Les Explorateurs offering more adventurous dishes and gourmet dining. There were not many vegetarian options for lunch time time however we had a really nice saffron risotto in the evening.

Breakfast is served buffet style, offering a wide variety of hot and cold food, pastries and danishes, an egg station, plenty of fruit, seeds and salad bits for vegetarian and vegans as well. The Alain Milliat juices provided a refreshing start to the day; we tried a few different flavors including beetroot, carrot and cherry.

Hotel Pashmina

The lounge area was also one of our favorite places to hang out—ultra modern, funky and colorful with a hipster vibe. Outside there’s a large south facing terrace right next to the slopes, it was absolutely freezing but when the sun was shining it was a beautiful spot for an après ski glass of Champagne.

Today wellness and adventure, sports and luxury go hand in hand, and the Pashmina does a very good job at providing all of this under one very cozy Alpine roof.

Cheryl Slater

Cheryl is a travel writer and blogger specialising in health and wellness travel. She travels the globe to seeks out the best retreats and resorts. Visit her site Soul Seed Travel for tips and recommendations on wellness travel and inspiration ...(Read More)

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