As I float on my back in the warm, salty water I enjoy the feeling of weightlessness. The rugged green mountains and the blue summer sky above fill my vision. And then I realise that I can hear music even though my ears are underwater. I don’t know how but the sound isn’t distorted. I feel completely relaxed, as if I could float there forever. Then my 11 year-old son pulls me to the edge of the pool by my foot and says: ‘Come on, we’re going on the water slide’.
We’re at an amazing place in the Austrian Tirol called Aqua Dome. Aqua Dome is a luxurious four-star hotel, spa and water park which is great for families all year round.
There are 12 different pools at Aqua Dome and we try all of them except for the baby pool. Some pools are inside, some are outside and some are in a separate area for kids. My favourite place at Aqua Dome is the futuristic suspended bowl pool outside with added salt where I listen to underwater music while contemplating the alpine scenery. I thought that my son’s favourite would be the outdoor whirlpool river or the kids’ pool with the built-in underwater camera for taking selfies. I’m surprised when he says that he likes the ‘cold’ pool best: it’s an outdoor fitness pool and is a little too chilly for me. He drags me in there once but I prefer the warmer water in the other pools.
Aqua Dome uses the naturally hot mineral water which runs deep under the site where it sits in the town of Längenfeld in the Ötztal valley. The mineral water is rich in sulphur and when it comes out of the ground its temperature is 40ºC – it has to be cooled before it can be used in the pools.
The Aqua Dome hotel has 200 rooms including six family suites. We go to see one of the suites and it looks lovely: stylish, modern, relaxing and comfortable. The floors and furniture are made of smooth, blonde wood, the walls are cream and the white cotton bedding is complemented by cosy red wine-coloured blankets and cushions. Just inside the door are some sturdy, cream-coloured Aqua Dome bags containing thick, white towelling robes and slippers to use at the pools and spa. There’s some simple, black furniture outside on the generous wraparound balcony. My son is impressed by the PlayStation in the living area while I just love the styling and the amazing mountain views.
There’s a tunnel linking the hotel to the pool and spa area so that you can head straight from your room for a dip in the water without even going outside. Besides the main Aqua Dome pools and spa area which we enjoy there’s also a spa just for hotel guests.
The hotel has a free kids club for guests with a lovely, airy room for children from three to 12 years old. The kids club staff speak English, German and Italian. There’s a programme of excursions to get the children out and about with activities like horse-riding in the summer and sleigh rides in winter. There’s also a free, supervised kids club by the pools.
Aqua Dome is in the beautiful and unspoilt Ötztal valley in the Austrian Tirol, close to the Italian border. The nearest airport is Innsbruck. Besides being a popular ski area the valley is famous for the 1991 discovery of the body of a Neolithic man preserved in ice and subsequently known as Ötzi. Not far away is the Area 47 outdoor adventure park where we had a brilliant time swimming in the lake the previous day – you can read about our experience here. We stay further along the valley in the village of Obergurgl.
My son and I both loved our afternoon at Aqua Dome and I would definitely recommend it as a place to visit. I was very impressed by the hotel room which we saw and I think that it would be a lovely place for families to stay at any time of year.
Family travel lowdown
Day tickets for the Aqua Dome pools and spa cost from 25.50 euros per adult, 13.50 euros per child and children under the age of three years old are free. There are reductions for families, students and seniors.
Thomson Lakes and Mountains has seven nights at the 4-star Hotel Edelweiss & Gurgl in Obergurgl, with half board prices starting from £961 per adult (free child prices on selected dates) including return flights from London Gatwick to Innsbruck and resort transfers. Regional flights are available from Bristol (+£69), Birmingham (+£49), Manchester (+£49), Leeds-Bradford (+£59) and Edinburgh (+£59).
Thank you to Aqua Dome for providing our entry tickets and to the Tirol Tourist Board and Thomson Lakes & Mountains for arranging our trip to Austria.
You can read about our last trip to Austria to a different part of the Tirol here.