Lauren Gamp head to a wellness oasis in Switzerland, just in time for the first snow of the season
What is it?
A full-body massage, using colour and personalised aromas for a truly bespoke spa experience.
Since 1840, the healing waters of the area’s thermal springs, bubbling up from under the mountains in the Tamina Valley, have been piped into Bad Ragaz. The spa at Grand Resort Ragaz makes use of this abundant natural resource with public-access thermal baths, including eight baths where temperatures range from 17 to 39C. One of the baths leads outside where stunning mountain views greet guests. Nearby, the guests-only thermal spa has a large sports pool for keen swimmers. The resort spa has a number of private treatment rooms and a well-equipped gym.
My massage therapist starts by asking me if there’s anything I need working on. Thinking she means physical gripes, I tell her my upper back has been giving some trouble, before she explains she meant personal issues or stresses. I tell her I have trouble switching my brain off to relax, already sceptical that the treatment is taking a spiritual turn. I’m then shown five laminated cards, each with a different colour on it, and told to pick which I’m most drawn to (I go for purple — standing, I’m told, for strength and invigoration). The coloured cards correspond to the scented oils used during the massage. My therapist then turns the cards over (hiding their colours) and tells me to pick one at random. Lastly, the colours are shown to me once more, and pick the colour I’m least drawn to (white). It’s revealed to me that the colour I’d been drawn to without sight, and the colour I liked the least, were both white (signifying mental calm and clarity). What I instinctively don’t want turns out to be the very thing my body and soul is drawn to. And just like that, I’m an aura convert. Seventy five of the most invigorating and relaxing minutes I’ve had in a long time then follow. The ‘purple’-scented oil spread on my lower body and tension areas stimulates the senses and releases pressure. The ‘white’-scented oil used on the nape of my neck and temples de-stresses and clears the mind.
I was a cynic when I read about the aromas massage, but this was the first massage I’ve had where I haven’t been making a mental to-do list for the day ahead during the treatment. The best thing about it was having an individually tailored experience. I left a converted individual.
The hotel provides a car transfer to and from the local station. As my partner and I arrive at Bad Ragaz train station, a suited man holding a card with our names on greets us before we even get to the exit. As we walk through the hotel entrance, we’re handed a glass of spring water and are met with a grand staircase and a colour palette of royal blue and gold. The hotel itself caters for an abundance of tastes — from the protected quarter of the building, true to its 19th-century roots, to the traditional grand entrance, to the recently modernised Spa Tower.
On the second night, for a complete contrast in scenery and ambience, we ate at traditional Swiss restaurant Zollstube. The cabin-esque decor creates a cosy atmosphere and the menu is simple yet perfectly executed. I couldn’t help but order a personal side order of Swiss specialty spaetzle (egg noodles) after I sampled it from my partner’s plate.
After being shown to our room in the newly renovated Spa Tower, we were offered a welcome glass of Champagne and some Swiss canapes, which arrived at our room in a matter of minutes. Our double bed overlooked the thermal spa entrance and a snow-topped mountain backdrop. The bathroom — housing a whirlpool bath, sauna and shower that doubles as a steam room — had an array of lighting options. These ranged from ‘beauty’ lighting to an ever-changing multicoloured orb glow — an odd, yet surprisingly perfect atmosphere for a quick steam. All running water in the Spa Tower is the healing thermal water that the region is famous for. After a hair wash, the texture of my hair gave me confirmation that it wasn’t the hair dye that had abused my hair, but rather the hard water of London.
Missing your bed at home won’t ever be an issue here, thanks to a remote control that enables every lumber support imaginable to materialise at the touch of a button. Press for soft, medium or firm and feel the mattress move beneath you.
Relaxing in an outdoor thermal bath heated to 34C, while the first snow of the season fell around me.
A relaxed retreat for those who enjoy classic luxury, with a hint of modern flair.
Rooms from £189 per person sharing a double room. Rates include breakfast, welcome aperitif, use of the 36.5° Wellbeing & Thermal Spa area and Tamina Therme, fresh fruit and Ragaz water each day, plus daily fitness and relaxation lessons and VAT.
The Aroma Moments massage costs £170 for 75 minutes