It used to be that we were content to crash on a couch in order to catch first chair each morning. We’d ski hard all day and then find the bar with the best drink specials and cheapest wings for dinner and we were simply happy to be there.
But then we got older and more discerning. Just having snow to ski on wasn’t enough, we wanted slopeside gourmet restaurants, we searched for the lightest powder, we craved local microbreweries for our après ski pleasure.
And we wanted a better standard of accommodation. We sought out the Four Seasons and Ritz Carltons of the ski world and as they built them, we flocked to them. Most of all, we wanted to soak in one of these luxurious hotels’ hot tubs.
The Matterhorn's stunning beauty is best enjoyed from a hot tub in Zermatt's Iglu Village.
And, lest we forget, hot tubs are our own creation and one of the greatest of the ski resort era. Along with the world’s first chairlift, the genius that is Sun Valley, Idaho, lays claim to the creation of the world’s first hot tub. So it’s no surprise that Hollywood greats past and present including Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood have all made their way to Sun Valley.
Plan tomorrow's lines at Verbier from the hot tub at Septième Ciel.
But for some people, even luxury accommodations, fine dining, superb après and, of course, great skiing are no longer enough. They need some of the world’s most-scenic views and they need a hot tub to sit in and take it all in, and once again the ski business is providing for them.
Here are some of the top hot tubs to take a soak in ski country:
Septième Ciel, Verbier, Switzerland
Verbier is home to some of the world’s most luxurious ski accommodations including Virgin boss Richard Branson’s ‘The Lodge’. But of the many wonderful spas in this famous ski resort, the tub at Septième Ciel, another remarkable chalet which is available to rent through the Oxford Ski Company has some of the best views.
The view from the Septième Ciel hot tub is simply divine.
The chalet, which sleeps up to 12 and costs from £15,450 to rent, is located on the Savoleyres side of Verbier high up above the resort. The hot tub’s lofty perch away from other man-made buildings and light pollution, boasts unobstructed views across the valley and gorgeous nighttime stargazing.
Deer Lodge, Lake Louise, Canada
Lake Louise has a rightful reputation not only for world-class skiing but also for some of the most awe-inspiring views of the magnificent Canadian Rockies right from the slopes. But what if you would rather take the views in from a hot tub for a change?
Well thankfully one of the resort’s best-loved accommodations, Deer Lodge, has stepped up to the plate. More than a century after the hotel was first built from huge local tree trunks to make comfortable stays in Canada’s newly opened West a practical reality, the current operators have shown the same vision as its founders and built a hot tub on the roof.
Putting the tub up high gives users some wonderful 360 degree views of the surrounding peaks and glaciers including Mount Lefroy, Mount Victoria and Mount Fairview and also provides for excellent stargazing on clear nights. Rates start at $86 CDN per person, per night.
Rifugio Scoiattoli, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
Take the Cinque Torri chairlift up from Italy’s chic Cortina ski resort and you’ll find the Rifugio Scoiattoli. Surrounded by the jaw-dropping scenery of the Italian Dolomites, this mountain restaurant was built at 2,255m in the late 1960s by famous mountain guide Lorenzo Lorenzi and is still run by members of his family.
You can eat lunch here or have an après ski dinner. If your dinner lingers over, you can either get a lift back down on a snowmobile or stay over in some basic but comfortable on-mountain accommodations.
Not much better than a day skiing in the alps, followed by an Italian dinner and then a soak in the tub at Rifugio Scoiattoli.
However long you stay, the important thing is to take a dip in the amazing hot tub here and soak up the views of the gorgeous 5 Torri (five towers) peaks. The hot tub is in fact a giant wooden barrel heated by a wood burning stove underneath and you should call at least 24 hours ahead to book it. Overnight stays start at 54 Euros and include your evening meal and hot tub access.
Riverrun, Cardrona/Treble Cone, New Zealand
New Zealand, the famous location for the Lord of the Rings and now the Hobbit movies, has some of the southern hemisphere’s most remarkable views — attracting visitors from all over the world. Combine this with some of the planet’s best skiing at ski areas including Cardrona and Treble Cone, and you have quite the vacation.
You can stay in the heart of it all at Riverrun beside Lake Wanaka, which is at the heart of a 500-acre private estate and located about one hour’s drive from ‘outdoor capital of the southern hemisphere,’ Queenstown.
Riverrun has a beautiful cedar wood hot tub from which there are great views of the Southern Alps, but Riverrun has thought about more than just the view from their very private tub. They ensure you get the full experience with huge fluffy towels and a roaring log fire to relax by for your ‘apres tub’ experience, getting around the usual problem faced by users of great hot tubs — forcing yourself to get out. Packages start at $380 NZ per room, per night.
Iglu Village, Zermatt, Switzerland
Zermatt is another one of the planet’s most iconic ski destinations for stunning scenery, with the mighty Matterhorn as its backdrop. There are more luxury accommodations here than almost any other ski resort, but for a truly unique hot tub experience — a rather different option is available.
What's the best way to keep warm in an igloo? In a hot tub like this one in Zermatt's Iglu Village, of course.
Iglu Village is an award-winning chain of on-snow accommodations that are also actually built of snow above half-a-dozen of Europe’s top resorts every autumn. Each one takes around 3,000 tons of snow to build and they all open on Christmas Day each winter. Unlike the famous Ice hotel in the Arctic circle of northern Sweden, the igloo villages provide separate snow rooms of various types including the ‘Romantic’ snow suites.
In the Zermatt Iglu Village you have the amazing opportunity of sinking into a hot tub located nearly 10,000 feet up, high above the village on the Gornergrat, opposite that world-famous peak. It doesn’t get much better than that — prices start at €99 Euros per person, per night.
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