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
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