It’s amazing to try something new in life, that exhilarating first-time experience that leaves you with memories that last a lifetime and we had just that pleasure of encountering quite a few “first’s” on our most recent luxury trip. There was the first time in the Alps, first time driving in a Tesla car (awesome), first time getting lost somewhere on the fine line between France and Switzerland, first time skiing and first time staying in a real-life chalet. The Wellbeing Chalet Rosiere, to be precise and it was a life enriching experience that I must tell you all about.
We climbed the vertigo-inducing Roc Noir mountain, wondering whether its slopes and peaks would be dusted with snow ready for our arrival. However, we need not have worried as we were promptly greeted by swirling snowflakes and it was clear that snow was going to be abundant.
As the car droned on in pitch blackness, we were wondering if the navigation system, which had already managed to fail us earlier, knew where it was we were going. The night was getting darker, the swirling snow more ferocious and the climb was getting steeper and steeper – which brought us to another ‘first”, the acute understanding that snow tyres alone are not sufficient at such altitudes. However, thankfully saviour was only a phone call away. We buzzed our host, having stopped in our tracks somewhere that seemed to be suspended between heaven and earth, declaring total surrender and indicating that we would rather sleep in the car than take another turn. As luck would have it, we were all of 10 metres away from food and shelter. Our gracious host drove us the said 10 metres and I was struck with the realisation that “food and shelter” was an understatement for what we were met with: The Wellbeing Chalet Rosiere. This towering 3-storey wood-panelled structure, snuggly suspended over a cascading mountain side was almost humbling in its grandeur. Then our host, Philip, did the one thing that could make me forget the beautiful outside, he introduced us to the cavernous inside, with its sprawling lounge area, cosiest and most spacious bedroom you will ever find in France and bathrooms, whose size will shame most studio apartments in central London. One look around the lounge and I was not quite so sure that I was bothered with skiing at all. I tried (and failed miserably) to count the number of DVD’s and books that were there for our pleasure, whose variety brought to mind the word “cornucopia”.
Next, as every warm-blooded human that has found themselves in the middle of a snow storm for the first time in a decade (we live in Cyprus, you see, where one must have air-conditioning on during Christmas dinner), we acknowledged that we were cold – Philip gave us not one but three solutions… Apparently wellbeing chalet means your designer bathroom has heated floors that you can sleep on in your birthday suit, if you please, and still stay toasty. And in case you were still not warm enough, the roaring fire in the lounge would get you warm through to your bones. And if you still have your concerns, there is always the hot tub – which was another “first” for us. There is nothing quite as luxuriously decadent to your senses as languidly sipping champagne in a steamy whirlpool, gazing at the snow-capped peaks of the Alps.
So we celebrated this astonishing turn of events for the better, along with our survival of what seemed like imminent death at some point, with a bottle of “local” wine (granted, it was one of France’s astonishing Bordeaux). I was pretty sure that “the wellbeing chalet” was an easily acquired taste, as I felt my bones melt by the roaring fire place, admiring the snow storm outside.
Next morning, our hosts have supplied us with coherent driving instructions and directions of surgical precision to ensure we find our ski rental store, training school and the slopes (yes, we almost did miss the entrance initially) without a glitch. And so we awkwardly peddled our way towards our first ski lesson. Nothing really prepared an adult for the realisation of how clumsy his or her body has become than a brief “ski walk”. It is quite literally like trying to collect water with a sieve…Hoards of children, skillfully zipping their way around you with seemingly zero effort does not make it easier. Yet we persevered and completed the monumental task with some semblance of dignity. Naturally, this accomplishment garnered much celebration, which we engaged in promptly by collecting a “picnic basket” of fragrant cheeses, award-winning Bordeaux and heading back to our wellbeing chalet and its hypnotising fire.
The next day we got treated to another speciality of Chalet Rosiere, namely its heated-floor equipped yoga studio. I have done yoga before but doing the aptly named “Mountain” and “Cow” asana’s in the setting of the Alps is quite an experience. And trust me, when I say that breathing exercises have tangible and instant effects on the clarity of your thoughts, when the air you inhale is from 1,8 km above sea level, give or take.
Our second ski lesson was a little more encouraging and we were upgraded with a ski pass, which involved an ungodly walk to the “adult” lift. Thankfully, by now I had mastered the ski walk and had happily plodded along to the very impressive, wide, pristine and absolutely terrifying for me “blue” slopes. All this bravery was promptly rewarded on the very same night by a visit to one of the local eateries, Le Genepi, where we got in touch with our inner hunters and ordered the semi-DIY hot plate special – absolutely worth it! And of course this was immediately followed by a visit to our hot tub upon our return to our wellbeing chalet – I could definitely get used to this.
The next day was a tad more restrained, chiefly because of ski-related injury I managed to incur, in all my bravado. This put a stop to skiing for the rest of the stay, but allowed us to discover the beautiful walking trail high up in the resort with the kinds of views that should have stopped Hannibal from crossing over, if he was anything like me.
But the said restraint meant I could uncover further riches from the Chalet Rosiere “chest of fun”. So in addition to the DVD and book library, there is an actual wooden chest, filled with games. “Cluedo”, “Twister”, “Monopoly” – choose your poison.
And nothing soothes a bruised amateur skiers ego (and sore muscles) like a good relaxing massage. Incidentally, you can book one on fairly short notice. Now, that’s what I call a wellbeing chalet. Have I mentioned I could get used to this?
Sadly, all good things must come to an end and so did this. Will I be back? Try to stop me. Especially, given that a little birdie told me that next season, Chalet Rosiere will be a fully-catered property, with a chef on-site. Given the proprietors healthy attitude to clean eating (both are vegetarians), I am anxious to dedicate another week to learning the art of skiing, relaxing my mind in inspired yoga sessions and cleansing my body of all the stress of everyday city life in the wellness retreat of Chalet Rosiere. Oh and since they accept guests with dogs, perhaps my cat could fit right in. Here is to the winter season of 2016/2017!
Photos thanks to Philip Volkers Photography
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