I’m not a spa person. I’d rather have dinner with friends and family to relax, and therein lies a problem that many can identify with. Sugar and drink; it makes me happy, and then it makes me tired.
After years of focusing solely on the health of my young family and trying to balance work and home life, I was given a wake-up call in the form of a blood clot, just after I turned 40. Maybe it was time for a break.
So I did a little research and one particular place kept being recommend: the Lanserhof health center in Austria. If I was going to take time away from my family, I wanted it to be worth it. This was not about losing weight; I wanted to learn about the principles of gut health and needed to focus on myself for a few days. A certified medical spa sounded like the perfect place to boost my energy levels.
The Lanserhof is situated outside Innsbruck, surrounded by tranquil mountain vistas. It is clinical but comforting. This is a medical, holistic spa with a heart. I signed up for the Lans Med Basic programme to experience their regeneration process. Two weeks are recommended, but I could only commit to five days.
You are assigned a doctor for a thorough weigh-in, emotionally and physically. Then you’re given a strict programme of medical appointments, detoxifying massages, Kneipp baths, blood and urine tests; and you can add on as little or as much as you like (or as you can afford). I added a couple of modules to my basic programme: intolerance tests and intravenous-vitamin concoctions.
You are encouraged to include light exercise in your routine; yoga and meditation classes are on offer, as is Nordic walking and swimming. This place is not about strenuous exercise.
The aim of this course is to rest your gut. To do that, you are encouraged to chew each mouthful of food at least 30 times, which is not easy when trying to make polite conversation with your meal partners (thoughtfully planned in advance by the concierge). I sat with a devotee to the clinic who has returned for two weeks annually for the past eight years. International doctors could not help his condition, but Lanserhof cured it. I also sat with another woman – smart, beautiful, burnt out – on her maiden trip to the clinic. She has already booked her return next spring.
Meals are strict and quiet (due to the endless chewing). I followed a diet of stale bread and avocado paste with either a piece or mackerel or cheese for lunch, and a soup for dinner. You then take Epsom salts to your room for a nightly bath. If you follow this method there is no need, thankfully, for colonic irrigation.
The Lanserhof’s bedrooms are functional, but the spa is sublime – and this is the reason you are here, to make the most of the incredible doctors and therapists. Book ahead if you want to get an osteopathy appointment or see the revered energy consultants.
This is a serious clinic with very few frills. Treatments are medicinal rather than pampering, and you can be sure you’ll leave with a wealth of knowledge about looking after your body and what you’re putting into it.
As with all detoxes, you feel exhausted after the first few days, and with exhaustion can come melancholy – there is a lot of quiet time, and internet access is restricted to encourage you to rest your mind as well as your body. I would not have managed two weeks, but undoubtedly the results would have been greater. I returned feeling lighter and calmer. Physically I lost three pounds, but the change was more emotional. I’d totally cleared my mind and learned to understand the importance of taking time to reboot and recharge.
As soon as my husband noticed the change, he signed up for his own reboot early next year.
Visit lanserhof.com for more information.