Thomas W. Hodgkinson

A hot pouch of peppermint

Davos, Switzerland
Daily Mail, November 2017

You are now leaving the nudist section, said the sign. 

I hadn’t realised there was a nudist section at the Waldhaus Flims hotel, let alone that I’d been in it.

But it didn’t bother me.

Such is the mood of peace that settles over you after a few hours at this spectacular spa hotel that if someone had told me the rest of the weekend would be spent stark naked, I’d have shrugged, and said: ‘Let’s do it.’

That’s the USP of the Waldhaus Flims — ultimate relaxation.

And it’s well worth the journey to the sleepy village of Flims, near Davos in the rarefied air of the southern Swiss Alps, for anyone keen to escape the hurly-burly and bask in this haven of health, tranquility and gourmet food.

Every detail contributes, from the altitude (around 1,000m) to the sublime, soothing mountain scenery. From the layout of the place, with its curated lawns and covered walkways, to the suave, solicitous manner of its silver-fox manager, Peter Schoch.

The latter, who took over last year to oversee a £33million refurbishment, has an uncanny ability to appear soundlessly at one’s elbow at the most unexpected moments, before asking, with a knowing twinkle: ‘How is it going?’

The implication is he’s confident of the answer. And invariably, he’s right.

I wondered if he might perform this trick during the ‘herbal stem’ massage I had selected.

As a hot pouch of peppermint was thrust into the small of my back, would Herr Schoch levitate into view, perhaps, and smilingly inquire as to my mood?

Such thoughts soon melted away, as I drooped and dropped into blissful semi-consciousness.

An hour later, I padded in a daze to the outdoor bathing pond. There I cooled off in the mountain spring water. It was perky, but not parky. At times, my swimming was interrupted by a large, astonished-looking koi carp.

Naturally, anyone keen to engage in more energetic activities can do so, from hiking to paragliding.

I particularly enjoyed nearby Lake Caumasee, a haven of blue water, girt with sequoia pine. There you can bask on hot rocks, swim or take out a paddle board.

I opted for the latter. You stand on an elongated surfboard, and dip a slim oar into the water on either side.

It sounds tricky, but it’s a cinch.

I was soon propelling myself round the lake with the confidence of a gondolier.

Yet the experiences I recall most fondly from my long, leisurely weekend took place at the prestigious premises… Those massages.

That lazy lounging by each of the three swimming pools (one indoor, two outdoor). Last but not least, the dulcet tones of Herr You-Know-Who.