The cold wind bit at my already frosted cheeks as we rode our way to the top of Gstaad's soaring mountaintops on the last ski lift operating for the day.
After a full day of navigating through freshly fallen powder, I let the weight of my skis hang freely from my weary legs as they dangled meters above the Alpine slopes below. I gave off a quiet sigh, knowing I had spent my energy well that day, and my Swiss ski guide smirked at my audible sign of contentment.
"You've earned your apres today," he said with a laugh. "That's the way the Swiss like to do it; we ski hard so we can relax harder."
In most other parts of the world, apres-ski entails heading to the bottom of the slopes and grabbing a hot toddy or a cold beer at a nearby ski lodge or bar. But in Switzerland, as my guide from Alpinzentrum Gstaad explained, true Swiss apres has always been about the culture of relaxing.
With his words fresh on my mind, I headed through the doors of the Huus Gstaad hotel and straight to the hotel's spa to do apres the Swiss way.
The property, a member of Design Hotels, is named after the Swiss-German word for house, and each of the 131 rooms offers a relaxed guestroom-style stay with stylish plaid and modern brass accents highlighted by raw wood details and dark, textured walls in the main room and smooth river-stone inlaid walls in the bathroom.
The hotel is ensconced in a world of Alpine peaks, waterfalls and high moors, nestled between the villages of Schonried and Saanen, about 2 miles from the star-studded streets and shops of Gstaad. Every detail of this Alpine-chic hotel has been carefully curated by Erik Nissen Johansen of Stylt Trampoli to give guests a sense of taste, comfort and adventure, including its complimentary add-ons such as guided hikes, ski rentals and mountain biking.
Guests come to the Huus Gstaad ready to jump into its realm of adventurous hospitality, which is precisely why the hotel made sure it had a wellness retreat and spa that would be equal to the task of helping guests relax sore muscles after days spent playing in the Bernese Oberland.
The HuusSpa is located on the lower three levels of the hotel. The spa experience begins with a short stint in the spa lounge, where dark walls and soft fabrics set the tone for the tranquil journey to come.
Next on the agenda is the sauna circuit, where visitors can disrobe and enter discreetly into an herbal steam bath or an aromatic sauna or can enjoy views of the gardens below from the glass-encased Finnish sauna.
Between rooms, guests are encouraged to indulge in the private rainfall showers or cool down in the central ice fountain, before making their way down a spiral staircase to the 1,450-square-foot swimming pool on the lower level. The pool features panoramic views of the mountains beyond, visible while floating in the warmed waters or while lounging on the oversize lounge chairs.
The hotel also features two treatment rooms for massages, for which the hotel works with the region's top massage therapists in private appointments, and Huus Gstaad also offers yoga classes and high-tech Technogym equipment in its state-of-the-art fitness center.
The use of rich, organic materials and natural fabrics throughout the hotel only adds to the relaxing and homey vibe of its public spaces — especially the inviting interior of the hotel's bar, where I indulged in my own Swiss ski-day tradition of apres-spa.