he first time I went to VIVAMAYR, a clinic as famed for its clients – think politicians, A-listers and supermodels (new mother Naomi Campbell has just returned from a week at the Maria Wörth resort) – as its rigorous detox programme, I was terrified.
It’s universally agreed that the results are incredible. Clients cite everything from clearer skin to improved energy levels to weight loss. It’s said that Michael Gove lost two stone during a stay. But the clinic’s extreme methods – 600 calories per day with each mouthful chewed at least 40 times, colonics, IV drips, and daily salt drinks to induce ‘loose bowel movements,’ seemed more of an endurance test than a relaxing retreat.
Could the results be profound enough to justify those horrors? The answer: Yes, absolutely.
I’ve since been back three times, joining the ranks of VIVAMAYR’s body of returning clients who see the clinic as a place to unwind while addressing health complaints holistically. Each time I arrive back in London fizzing with energy and glowing with health.
This time, I kept a diary:
Initial doctor’s appointment with Medical Director Dr. Maximilian Schubert. After a questionnaire about the state of my health, he massages my stomach to see how my organs are before telling me that my small intestine is a little agitated, but reassuringly tells me that VIVAMAYR’s ‘Cure’ – a week of strict routine, balanced meals, and holistic treatments – will bring me back to my best.
After blood tests, I feast on a dinner of broth and a few boiled potatoes (‘very grounding’, Dr. Schubert says), and I chew every last morsel as many times as I can before swallowing them greedily.
My morning routine consists of: waking at around 7am, oil pulling, drinking salts to ‘loosen stools’, body brushing, ‘kneipping’ (alternating hot and cold water in the shower, aiming the jets at legs to encourage circulation), stretching, and, finally, eating.
After a hearty breakfast of eggs, cheese, and potatoes, I head to the medical department and am bundled into treatment after treatment: a salinated air booth to strengthen my lungs (crucial, I’m told, as a Londoner), nasal reflexology (looks mad, but works wonders on blocked sinuses), ‘self-awareness training’ with a chirpy Austrian called Birgit who guides me through a series of exercises designed to close the mind/body divide, and then a drip containing B12 and a cocktail of vitamins.
I’m tested by the doctor to see which foods my body responds well to using a technique called Applied Kinesiology. It’s muscle strength testing which can also be used to highlight food intolerances. It seems curiously accurate, and I am told the only thing I must avoid is chilli, which was no surprise given that it makes me cough every time I’m near it.
By the end of a day of more treatments, my muscles have started to ache, so go for a swim in the lake to try to loosen them.
The aching has extended across ribs and back, and, as he massages my stomach, the doctor says symptoms like mine are common for people who live stressful lives.
I also feel tired, a bit dizzy, and very weepy, so I take to bed with a hot water bottle and watch back-to-back episode of Friends for comfort.
After ‘mental coaching’ with Erich to help reduce anxiety, I try aerial yoga, which is when I first realise I am more flexible and feel better in my body than I have done for years.
By the end of the day, my energy levels pick up, and despite the portions being tiny, hunger only strikes before mealtime.
I start the day by seeing osteopath Roland, who within five minutes of treating me has solved the neck pain that’s been irritating me for a year (‘you’d twisted C5 in your neck – I just put it back,’ he told me with a beatific smile).
During a final appointment with my doctor, he tells me that my intestine is now calm, and that I need to carry on the routine for a fortnight at home to consolidate my efforts in Austria. Day Seven
A bit of downtime so I take a walk around the lake, and realise I feel more vibrant than I have in a long time. My skin is clear, the whites of my eyes bright, and I’m centred and happy.
3 other incredible medi spas
Sha Wellness Clinic, Spain
Enjoy innovative programmes designed to address health and lifestyle complaints in this clifftop clinic with views of the Mediterranean. shawellnessclinic.com
Each of the four Lanserhof branches pairs modern and holistic medicine in a bespoke routine to really get results. lanserhof.com
Grayshott Medical Spa, UK
Tennyson’s former house plays host to those in need of relaxation and dietary overhauls at Grayshott.