Travel

Take your pick in Courchevel, Chamonix, Sainte-Foy, Megève, and Val Thorens

Hot and cold: Alpentherme spa complex

Off piste and into the spa: Austria's Bad Hofgastein offers far more than skiing

Past the town's cross-country skiing track, a little further on from an icy-looking pond peppered with hardy ducks, steam was rising from the valley floor. A series of low-rise modern buildings, large windows brightly lit against the surrounding mountains, awaited me, grouped around a striking dome and a simple glass box.

First time for everything: Having a facial

Not only had I never had a "facial" until last month; I didn't even know what a "facial" was. A lot of men will be more familiar with its second meaning (a pornographic act) than its first (a non-pornographic skin treatment). Let me reassure you that this short article is about the skin treatment, not the pornographic act. I have not indulged in the latter and, if I had, then the pages of The Independent are not where I would choose to share it.

Something To Declare: Maldives; Montenegro; Thistle; South Coast railway line

Warning of the week: Maldives

The Oberoi, Seminyak

The Big Six: Balinese beach retreats

Jiva Puri, Cemagi

Maldives calls off resort spa ban

The president of the Maldives has ordered the country's resorts to reopen their spas pending a court decision, just days after they were shut under pressure from an Islamic opposition party.

The 50 Best spas

Need a cure for the New Year blues? Rhiannon Batten presents the experts' guide to steamy saunas, perfect plunge pools and tempting treatments

Lime Wood in Hampshire

The Big Six: English spa hotels

Lime Wood, Hampshire

Fancy a dip? It depends where you live

As winds of up to 90mph battered Scotland and the north of England yesterday elsewhere in the UK was enjoying some of the balmiest December weather for decades.

Altapura, Val Thorens

The Big Six: Luxury ski hotels

Altapura, Val Thorens

Tranquil: The Peace Laguna Resort and Spa in Krabi

Travel Challenge: Thailand

Each week we invite three travel companies to offer us their best deal for a specific holiday. Today: a two-week holiday at a Thai beach resort in the new year. Prices are per person, based on two sharing. All include Thai Airways from Heathrow via Bangkok in early January with transfers.

Women on full pension set to double

The proportion of women set to receive the full basic state pension is set to nearly double in 20 years time, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said today.

Travel Challenge: A week in the Cape Verde islands

Every week we invite three companies to give us their best deal for a specific holiday. Today: a week in Cape Verde – an archipelago of 10 islands off the coast of West Africa – in early November. Prices are for two, flying on Thomson and include transfers.

Book Of A Lifetime: Tess of the d'Urbervilles, By Thomas Hardy

It's more than 30 years since I read 'Tess of the d'Urbervilles' by Thomas Hardy. Re-reading it now, what stayed? Tess herself, mainly. She sweats, she blushes, she bleeds. All that red and white. The white dress she wore in the May Dance, she singled out by a red ribbon; the blood from the horse, Prince, pooling on the ground and spattering her dress after she has accidentally killed it on her way to take the beehives to market; the strawberry – British Queen variety - that Alec d'Urberville foists on her with that telling line: "in a slight distress she parted her lips and took it in".

Tributes paid to honeymoon couple killed in Maldives

Tributes have been paid to a British couple who were killed in a quadbiking accident while on their honeymoon in the Maldives.

Newlyweds die in quad-bike accident

A British couple were killed in a quad-biking accident while on their honeymoon in the Maldives, police on the holiday island said yesterday.

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Independent Travel
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona from £629pp
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South Africa
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Prices correct as of 12 December 2014
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
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Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
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The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

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After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

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