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Evian Resort Hotel Royal: Lake Geneva's Storied Spa Gets A Facelift

Evian might be a household name thanks to the refreshing, bottled mineral water, but few may know that its name is actually derived from Evian-les-Bains, the oldest French spa town on the banks of Lake Geneva – and the historic home of mineral water’s source.

The water’s 15-year filtration journey — from the peaks of the Chablais mountains, through layers of sediments on the Gavot plateau until it reaches the town’s spring — is also the inspiration for the immersive wellness programme at the Evian Spa, at five-star Evian Resort Hotel Royal. While the glamorous hotel, which sits on the hillside above Evian-les-Bains, has been regaling royalty and locals alike since 1909, its spa recently underwent a year-long transformation and re-opened its doors this February. Citizen Femme discovers the restorative powers of its mineral-rich waters.


Water, as one would expect, is at the heart of the Evian Spa experience, as is the lush environs surrounding Hotel Royal. Encompassing 47-acres of private lakeside land, the hotel is just an hour-long drive from Geneva airport and was first built as a spa retreat for European royalty. Upon arrival, you’re greeted by its grand, Belle Époque façade, and one can’t help but be transported to a bygone era of ocean liners cutting across the glass surface of Lake Geneva, or of European titans swanning about in the hotel’s 150 generously-sized rooms and 32 suites. The whole resort centres the stunning nearby landscape: the snowy peaks of the Alps — the very same found on the Evian bottle logo — frame the hotel, while a heated infinity pool and Jacuzzi peer over a panoramic vista of Lake Geneva.


Inside the newly upgraded spa, expect clean, crisp lines and minimalist yet calming furnishings, all designed to ensure nothing distracts from the water – or other majestic, raw elements (such as the Alps) found just outside its large windows. Behind a heated pool lies a steamy maze of hydra-therapies: grab handfuls of snow in the snow room to pat yourself down after a sweaty session in the vast hammam sauna and steam rooms, or dip into the single-person ice plunge pool if you dare. The main draw, however, is the bubbling outdoor hydro-circuit complete with several rings of spa jets of varying strengths to help with sore legs and backs, perhaps after a morning spent hiking up the Alps with the resident guide.

Fair warning, weekends get busy due to French natives, who make up 80 per cent of the weekly guests. Be sure to arrive before breakfast – or during dinner time – to nab a coveted spot on one of the dozens of rattan chaise lounges. Also, a word to the wise: bring your own flip flops as the floors can get slippery and terry-cloth hotel slippers won’t suffice.


Unlike many spa menus that feature lots of complicated steps, the beauty of the Evian Spa lies in its specificity. Treatments, ranging from 45 minutes to 180 minutes, tend to focus on very specific areas or concerns of the body. The 75-minute Équilibre massage, for instance, works just on the lower body with foot and hand reflexology to boost circulation, while the 60-minute Visage Lumiere facial is an excellent scrub and mask-based experience, using vegetable extracts and pure Alpine Evian mineral water.

All treatments fall under the four “dimensions” or pillars of the spa’s wellness programme, which is inspired by the natural, 15 year-long journey of the area’s iconic Alpine water, all the way to its source in the nearby town of Evian-les-Bains. The “Celestial” dimension is a series of treatments designed for tension relief, inspired by the origin of the water when heavy rain and snow fall on the Gavot plateau. The “Mineral” dimension, so named for the moment the water traverses through the rocks, is focused on detoxification, and features treatments like a 100-minute body massage with talc dug from the local deposit. The “Precious” dimension is all about hydration, inspired by the process of the water being collected in an underground reservoir, and the final, “Vitalising” dimension offers tonifying and lymphatic massages, designed to energise the body to mimic the moment the water springs from the earth.


As I arrive to the waiting room before my Le Vivifiant massage — a treatment focusing on tension relief in the lower body — I’m welcomed into a futuristic sanctuary with an S-shaped banquette; the soundtrack of rushing water echos around as a video of the water’s journey from the Alps is projected onto the domed ceiling above. My therapist leads me upstairs to where all eight treatment rooms line the hall. Mine had the added perk of a glorious view of the outdoor pool and Lake Geneva glistening below.

While some treatments begin with a steam room session, mine started with a soothing foot scrub, and then the relaxing-yet-invigorating full-body massage started. With deep, long strokes, my therapist began with my legs, relieving my aching calves and swollen ankles from the flight, and slowly worked her way up to my stomach. This took me by surprise, but I later learned it is a common part of all the full-body massages on the menu and not just lymphatic drainage treatments. As someone used to deep pressure (I’m of the no pain, no gain camp), the massage was suitably strong without lingering on any specific acupuncture points, which left me feeling equal parts relaxed and refreshed after 45 minutes. The technique used is more akin to Swedish than Thai and movements were firm and swift, which usually brings more energy, and less grogginess; a definite bonus.


An afternoon spent hopping between the Jacuzzi and the pool is enough to work up an appetite, so be sure to dine at the property’s Michelin-starred restaurant Les Fresques, named for the gorgeous original 1927 Neo-Baroque frescos decorating its ceilings. The menu is a simple yet elevated garden-to-table affair, offering up the best ingredients of the region.

Should you wish to skip the booze (although oenophiles will be thrilled by the expansive wine selection), you can opt for a sparkling tea pairing to go with the degustation menu. Don’t miss the salad of root vegetables, plucked directly from the hotel’s sprawling gardens, or the scrumptious selection of local cheeses from the trolley. After all, food is a crucial part of any wellness journey.


The Evian Spa is not only child-friendly, but also offers specific treatments in partnership with Bonpoint, catered to children over four. These include gentle massages and facials intended to teach adolescents how to apply correct skincare. There are even mommy-and-me treatments allowing parents to enjoy massages alongside their children. And, while there is a separate recreation area for children a few minutes’ walk from the property, the indoor spa pool is also open to children during certain hours. I happened upon a youngster taking a private swimming lesson, for example, which is another service on offer – and adult-only classes are also available, including paddle yoga or personal training.

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