Val d’Aran (Pyrenees), Spain (September 2006) – Tucked away in Spain’s exclusive winter playground in the Pyrenees, ‘La Pleta Hotel & Spa’, included in the Small Luxury Hotels of the World portfolio, is no secret among Spain’s cognoscenti. Aside from mixing with Spain’s elite on the slopes, guests at La Pleta can dog sleigh, cross country ski, heli-ski, snow shoe and ice skate before enjoying a relaxing ‘Essence of Cassis’ massage or Vichy Shower at the property’s own ‘Occitania’ spa, a cup of Vin Cau (mulled wine) or a sumptuous gourmet dinner along with fine wine from the cellar at La Pleta. Winter rates start at $306 per night during low season and $618 per night during high season, based on an ‘Occitania Superior’ accommodation for two people, plus tax and service charge, inclusive of breakfast.

Located in the Val d’Aran, just a two-hour drive from Toulouse and three and a half hours from Barcelona, Baqueira is popular with Spanish high-society. The five-star La Pleta Hotel & Spa brings a new level of sophistication to this affluent region, offering first class service, warm hospitality and exquisite international and Catalan fare to visitors. Additional VIP experiences available to guests include daily afternoon tea and a personal Boot Butler who will remove your boots at the end of a hard day’s ski before sterilizing them and returning them to your locker.

La Pleta’s own spa; ‘Occitania’, encompasses modern design, while retaining the rustic charm and heritage of the region, and is the first spa in Europe to offer Erno Lazlo products, used by the likes of Nicole Kidman, Madonna, Uma Thurman, Sting and Brad Pitt. Occitania (Occitan being the local language and culture of the region), offers guests an extensive range of creative signature treatments, which draw on the natural ingredients of the region combined with the ancient culture of the Pyrenees. Treatments include the ‘Val d’Aran massage’ using local honey and olive oil, mixed with lavender, orange blossom and thyme, and a ‘Fruit of the Pyrenees Exfoliation’, based on dry wild flowers and orange tree oils.

In addition to the spa, the hotel’s 70 newly refurbished rooms, 11 suites and Presidential Suite offer visitors five-star opulence in the mountains. Key features include: a sumptuous bed with plump goose-down pillows and duvet and crisp white sheets; TV with satellite; DVD player; ISDN line and wireless Internet connection; digital safe; and floor heating during the winter months. The bathrooms boast square designer basins set atop a glass unit, a deluxe bath and shower with hydro jets, plush bathrobes with slippers and Molton Brown toiletries. The suites are generous in size, with a separate lounge area and private balcony and all feature new 29 inch Panasonic TVs with satellite.

Quieter and described as more sophisticated than other nearby ski resorts by those in-the-know, Baqueira offers 57 runs in total, with 19 chairlifts, 7 drag lifts and 4 magic carpets for children and beginners. The area has an average snowfall of 32 ft. each season and offers a top elevation of 8,234ft., across a terrain of 4,749 acres, making it ideal for all levels of ski and snowboarders. A top notch ski school and 503 snow cannons make Baqueira the savvy alternative to long queues and crowded slopes prevalent in the Alps, making it a haven for Spain’s high society.

From the creators of Ikal del Mar and Esencia Resort in Mexico’s Mayan Riviera, La Pleta Hotel & Spa offers world-class skiing in the winter and endless soft adventure in the summer. The resort’s two restaurants satisfy the most discerning palates with Del Gel al Foc, serving creative international cuisine with a Catalonian twist, and Petita Borda, offering lighter Mediterranean-style dishes. Additionally, the hotel features a new Cigar Bar, where guests can relax after dinner and sample some of the best and rarest cigars and brandies in the world. For more information and reservations visit www.lapleta.com.