The time is late afternoon, one Friday at the beginning of autumn. The location is the beautiful Alsace, with its small villages doted of delightful houses, the countryside slowly changing colours and the sun, kindly gracing us of its presence, enhancing the reds, oranges and yellows.
Sexy Hubby and I are driving along, chatting and catching up after spending yet another week apart and soon we recognize the access road going up a small hill that will take us to our favourite hotel and spa: Les Violettes. It is our third stay in this magical place and a surprise present for his birthday.
I am at a loss as to where to start, as everything is just perfect. Every time we have been welcomed by friendly and attentive staff members, who will happily engage into pleasant conversation but know when to stop and leave us alone. I remember that during our first stay I had been informed that on Friday night there is a dinner offering two choices of starters and main courses, and one dessert. I had omitted to mention beforehand that I do not eat meat and both starters were of the meat variety. The maître d’hôtel quickly found a solution and could not apologize enough, and we got complimentary glasses of Crémant for the inconvenience, when clearly I should have been the one thinking about it. We were impressed.
Since we are talking about food… The Friday night dinner is always absolutely delicious and gorgeously presented. Sexy Hubby was beside himself with excitement when presented for the second time with a foie gras crème brûlée, a creation that combines what has to be in the top ten of his favourite dishes. The buffet breakfast is also offering many delicacies and one does not need to eat anything else until dinner is served. However, the real highlight is the Saturday night buffet dinner. Again there is a choice of two main dishes served at your table, but the starters, cheeses and desserts you help yourself to. An impossible dilemma as you cannot possibly taste everything since you are faced with a festival of miniatures dishes and verrines as well as various cold cuts, fish in the form of terrines, smoked or cooked then cooled down, vegetables, salads and breads spread over two tables. I remember particularly enjoying my salmon tartare and my crabmeat verrines, but everything was just divine. As for the desserts… Luscious and scrumptious! I deeply regretted not to be able to taste all of them, but could not quite picture myself asking for a doggy bag… We went for red wine on both nights – this time choosing a Languedoc-Roussillon and a Côtes-du-Rhône as there were not many Alsatians options – and we were highly satisfied with both of them, as well as with the lovely Crémant Brut Rosé. I have to add a little anecdote to this food chapter: during our first stay I had decided to wear on the Saturday night a black dress with its matching red and black corset that Sexy Hubby had bought me as a Christmas present. It is a creation from the Swiss Designer Anne Lombard and looks spectacular but… by the end of the meal, I could hardly breathe. Not the most appropriate outfit to wear for such an evening, I have since learned my lesson and wear dresses somewhat more comfortable!
The rooms are tastefully decorated, privileging wood and thick fabrics for a cosy effect. But what makes the place is the 1’000 m2 spa… During our three weekends in Les Violettes we have not once ventured out of the hotel as the spa is so enthralling. Indoor and outdoor swimming pools, jacuzzi, laconium, salt grotto, herbal bath, bio sauna, Finnish sauna, hammam, Kneipp bath and various relaxation rooms, need I say more? Several beauty and relaxation treatments are also on offer – for these you pay extra – and both Sexy Hubby and I decided to go for a massage this time. An energetic Swedish one for him and a much more gentle Californian one for me. I was so relaxed that I actually fell asleep… We spent seven hours in the spa on Saturday and a further five on Sunday, and this did us a world of good to ease away stress and tensions.
It is always hard to say goodbye to such a place, but going there only once a year also makes it very special. I am sure that 2011 will see us return once again to this fragment of heaven on earth…