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Autumn relaxation in the Italian Alps

If autumn's getting you down and you find the thought of the approaching winter daunting, a short break may be just what the doctor ordered. The stunning Aosta Valley in the Italian Alps offers a range of options to help you relax and forget about the rat race.

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Bordered by Switzerland in the north and France to the west, the Italian region of Valle d'Aosta is surrounded by magnificent mountain scenery. With its 25 ski stations and 1,200 kilometres of pistes, it is popular among winter sports enthusiasts but is also an ideal autumn destination. Home to the famous thermal springs of Pre-Saint-Didier, the valley is the perfect setting for a spa getaway even when there's snow on the mountains. There are outdoor pools with hydromassage, relaxation areas with loungers where you can enjoy the sun while contemplating the huge mass of Mount Blanc, and saunas in wooden cabins with stunning views out across the Alps.

In the central building of the Spa, there are hydromassage pools whose different strength jets focus on relaxing and reinvigorating different parts of the body; there are also pools with underwater music, toning waterfalls, scented steam baths, rooms dedicated to colour therapy, aromatherapy and mud treatments, areas with panoramic views and lots more. An underground tunnel connects the nineteenth century baths with the elegant old Casino where you can enjoy innovative thermal treatments and a mud therapy area.

The natural hot springs of Pre-Saint-Didier break out from the mountain at the base of the Orrido waterfall, upstream from the point where the Verney merges with the Dora Baltea river. The springs were known of back in Roman times, but it wasn't until the mid-seventeenth century that the fame of the resort began to attract foreign visitors who were drawn to the beautiful Alpine setting to 'take the waters'.

The resort was at its peak in the century and a half from the early 1800s. And the spa building dates from 1834, while the Casino opened its doors alongside in 1888. During this period, the thermal springs were one of the main attractions of the area, popular among the rich and famous of the day, and the favourite summer destination for the Italian royal family. They slowly lost their popularity and the facilities closed; now they have recently reopened after undergoing a complete refurbishment that paid careful attention to conserving the style and opulence of the splendid period architecture.

Unsurprisingly, many of the other hotels of the resort are well-equipped with facilities dedicated to beauty and well-being, making them ideal for relaxation after an energetic day out on the mountain. The spa facility at Mont Blanc Hotel Village, for example, comprises a series of waterfalls, saunas and jacuzzis, while the Hotel Bellevue, boasts a wellness oasis set in a complex of thermal caves. Here they offer the 'Cleopatra bath' where milk and honey are mixed with the water, and the 'King Victor bath, with water flavoured with wine, herbs and spices.

The Romantik Hotel Jolanda Sport also offers speciality wellness treatments. In addition to whirlpool and sauna facilities, the beauty centre offers guests purifying aromatic baths and a range of treatments and therapies based on natural products.

Further information:Valle d'Aosta Tourism

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