Liv­ing the high life in the Ty­rol’s finest spa re­treat After a new year spa break with a side of out­doorsy fun? heads off to Aus­tria’s As­to­ria Re­sort for a well­ness fix in the Alps

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - TRAVEL GUIDE -

Ca­su­ally tread­ing wa­ter in the As­to­ria Re­sort’s heated out­door in­fin­ity pool, face tilted sky­ward, a rosy glow colours my cheeks. The skin-tin­gling win­ter air is prob­a­bly about 80% re­spon­si­ble for this. The other 20%? Oh, that’ll be shame­less smug de­light.

When it’s out-and-out pam­per­ing you’re after, a spa break is the ob­vi­ous an­swer. But this is 2019 — ‘ob­vi­ous’ just won’t cut it.

A gor­geous ho­tel, top-notch fa­cil­i­ties and the prom­ise of a just-roll-me-into-bed-after­wards mas­sage are all good, but what about the rest? We want na­ture, we want gasp-in­duc­ing #nofil­ter views, break­fast buf­fets served with a side of mini ad­ven­ture and bonus points if it’s within rel­a­tively easy reach. A su­per-scenic half-hour taxi ride from Inns­bruck air­port, As­to­ria, fits the bill.

Now this is what you call a full spa pack­age... com­pleted a ma­jor par­tial re­furb and restyle last year, with Elis­a­beth Gurtler, the cur­rent owner, giv­ing the en­trance lobby, bar and lounge area a stun­ning new look. Still 100% Alpine chic, no de­tail has been spared.

The in­te­rior de­sign in­volves a colour scheme of deep reds, ex­posed wood and brown leather. Antlers adorn the ceil­ings, while an open fire flick­ers invit­ingly. It looks and feels good, and the minute I ar­rive I in­stantly want to curl up in a cor­ner with a magazine and hot choco­late, phone off and out of sight.

The spa is split into two main ar­eas, one is ‘tex­tile-free’, mean­ing strictly no clothes or swim­suits al­lowed (and yes, it’s mixed sexes). The two large swim­ming pools and out­door salt-wa­ter whirlpool/Jacuzzi are in the tex­tile zone, along with loung­ing ar­eas, daybeds, sauna, steam rooms and treat­ment rooms.

Day one, I stick with the swim­suited sec­tion. But much of the mod­erni­sa­tion work’s taken place in the tex­tile-free area, which in­cludes a gi­gan­tic sauna with floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows of­fer­ing panoramic views of the Alps, as well as a small out­door in­fin­ity whirlpool.

By day two, it’s too much to re­sist and I cast my Bri­tish prud­ish­ness and bikini aside, grab a towel (for hy­giene, you must al­ways sit on a towel) and head for that sauna. Sun floods in through the glass and, within sec­onds, I’m ut­terly en­gulfed by the heady scent of wood and heat, so ab­sorbed in the mo­ment that my bare flesh mat­ters not a jot.

There’s an im­pres­sive menu of treat­ments avail­able too that are rel­a­tively rea­son­ably priced, plus a gym and timetable of classes that guests can join in for free. THE GREAT OUT­DOORS In the morn­ings, many guests head out after break­fast to make the most of the Alps, aka one of Mother Na­ture’s best play­grounds. With lim­ited time, I forgo the lifts and walk into Seefeld for a two-hour cross-coun­try ski les­son.

Later, I ex­plore Seefeld, which is small enough to do in an af­ter­noon. The vil­lage of­fers a few streets of shops, bars, a casino and a pretty mar­ket square. The best bit re­quires a 10-minute hike up the coun­try lane tucked just to the left of the church and lead­ing onto an open meadow. With a smat­ter­ing of fir trees scat­ter­ing shad­ows and sun-rays across the snow, this is where I find Seefeld’s most beau­ti­ful views.

But drink­ing in those Ty­rolean peaks from a bub­bling Jacuzzi back at As­to­ria — know­ing there’s a big glass of wine wait­ing to be en­joyed later, curled up by that fire — is pretty hard to beat.

one of the out­door pools with­view­softhe Alps, a new re­lax­ation area (top right) and a whirlpool (right) at the As­to­ria Re­sort

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