In a picture-perfect illustration of nature?s elegant sense of balance, the icy, snowcapped peaks of the Swiss Alps were thoughtfully placed atop a valley filled with natural thermal springs.?This perfect apr?s-ski indulgence was, of course, in place long before skiing was even invented ? in fact, mentions of the benefits of a nice hot soak in the shadow of the Matterhorn date back to the 13th century. Here are three places, each just a mere two to three hours from Zurich, where Alpine bathers can continue to enjoy modern versions of a Roman-era pleasure.
In the small town of Leukerbad, one of Europe?s largest spas offers special Roman Irish nights ($120) where guests travel through 11 different stations of gradually decreasing temperature with the help of toga-clad guides who also offer massages and scrubs. A buffet featuring authentic Roman dishes and local wines from the Valais region cap the evening. 011-41-27-472-10-00, www.alpentherme.ch
Badehotel Salina Maris
In addition to offering a full range of spa treatments, including its signature Cleopatra Bath ($50) and Matterhorn Hot Stone Massage ($136), Salina Maris is unique in that its spa waters are enriched with natural brine, which it claims is ?curative for a number of conditions ? everything from arthritis, menstrual difficulties, respiratory ailments ? even the stress of ?manager burnout.?
Opened in 2010, this resort?s all-wood buildings spin the look of a mountain chalet with an ultramodern sensibility. Guests can bathe in a natural thermal river or in any of several indoor or outdoor pools fed by three thermal springs. Located in the skier?s paradise that is the Val d?Illiez, the spa offers an after-ski massage ($130) with intense focus on the legs and arms. 011-41-24-476-80-40, www.thermes-parc.com/en