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Pleasure palace: Évian Royal Resort
Looking for a spa in Canada? In most major cities, you won’t have to search very far. Within a short stroll of my office alone, there are a dozen “day spas.” The one above the Greek restaurant offers bargain bikini waxes on Wednesdays, and the one next to the auto body shop advertises a manicure/pedicure combo for a mere $25 (bacterial infection included at no extra charge). But there are spas, and then there are spas. And if your pockets are nice and deep and your level of discernment is high, the Évian Royal Resort should be on your spa radar.
Located in the quaint town of Évian-les-Bains, near the French Alps, this grand hotel was designed in 1907 to receive members of royalty and other luminaries who made a yearly visit to “take the waters” as part of their international travel itinerary. Back in 1789, a certain gout-ridden marquis had discovered that the spring waters of Évian not only tasted delicious but also ameliorated his symptoms. The waters – composed of glacial snow and rain – were chemic ally analyzed and found to have a neutral pH, low levels of sodium, nitrates and sulphates and healthful quantities of calcium and magnesium picked up during their 15-year journey from the Alpine foothills to Source Cachat, the town’s spring. Today, curistes – as thermal spa goers are called in France – can enrol in a variety of healing programs at Les Thermes Évian (a bustling thermal centre located in town) and global well-being treatments at the Évian Royal Palace and Évian Royal Ermitage (an adjoining hotel set in a private 19-hectare park).
For those who like their health cures with a high dose of luxe, the Évian Royal Palace and Évian Royal Ermitage offer predominantly Asian-inspired treatments based on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda in a Cleopatra-worthy setting. However, the most healing part of Évian is likely the glorious setting itself and languid pace of life. As you stroll the immaculate grounds (the park and the golf course at the Évian Masters Golf Club are pesticide-free to prevent harmful chemicals from leaching into the town’s water supply) – past the chef’s fruit and vegetable gardens, the aviary, the rose garden, the rhododendrons and the azaleas – it’s a pleasant fantasy to imagine yourself chatelaine of this beautiful, peaceful place. One feels very protective of this oasis of considered calm. It’s little wonder that during the Second World War, when the property was converted into a rest home for Italian and German soldiers, the men kept meticulous lists of the fine English-made furniture to ensure its survival. Thankfully, here, the art of war has been supplanted by the art de vivre, which is practised at a luxe level in Évian.
For info, visit www.evianroyalresort.com and www.lesthermesevian.com.
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