Overlooking the gentle shores of Lake Geneva in the picturesque Swiss town of Montreux is the revered Clinique La Prairie. Famed for its avant-garde approach to beauty and wellness, there’s a reason why the world’s elite make an annual pilgrimage to Switzerland. The country’s health and wellness facilities are unmatched as is its beautiful landscape and fresh mountain air.
The crown jewel in a handful of high-end medical spas is none other than Clinique La Prairie. Famous for its revitalisation treatments, the history of the clinic dates back to 1931 when Professor Paul Niehans, a scientist from Zurich University, first administered fresh animal cells to patients suffering from various medical conditions. Niehans treated over 5,000 patients using cellular therapty to stimulate the immune system, including politicians, celebrities, entertainers, actors and statesman. Yet it was after the treatment was given to Pope Pius XII in the Vatican that the clinic became world renown and it’s remained so ever since. Clinique La Prairie offers a holy grail for wellness and beauty – perhaps the luxury industry’s top sector at the moment.
View from the Residence Junior Suite. Courtesy of Clinique La Prairie, Montreux
The global wellness market is booming. Several market studies show how consumers are shifting their spending from buying luxury products to investing in transformative experiences. In 2018 the global wellness market was valued at US$4.2 trillion, after a growth of 12.8 per cent between 2015 and 2017, according to the Global Wellness Institute (October 2018). Clearly, luxury spenders are deciding to place their money into experiences like those that can be had at Clinique La Prairie rather than luxury handbags. “What used to happen among the ultra wealthy was the need to preserve ‘my wealth’ and now it has changed to the need to preserve ‘my health,’” says Clinique La Prairie CEO Simone Gibertoni.
“The wellness market is growing extremely fast and we are seeing it particularly here. We are all burnt out and importantly, there is this shift from buying luxury products to investing in experiences.” Gibertoni, who hails from Italy and is a lover of art, design and good food, states how Clinique La Prairie is receiving more Chinese customers dissatisfied with the treatments they are receiving at home. “Health and wellness is now of utmost importance to our clients and we often receive annual repeat guests,” he says.
While the controversial Revitalisation formula is still administered, now orally rather than by syringe, the profit it has made the clinic has allowed it to transform into a lavish state-of-the-art medi-spa where can guests come for nearly any medical or holistic treatment or cosmetic procedure they desire. I entered Clinique La Prairie with this knowledge at hand. Having tried several health and wellness retreats as well as specialised detoxes, I was curious to see how this would differ and live up to the expectations.
The relaxation room. Courtesy of Clinique La Prairie, Montreux
A luxury hospital-cum-hotel, as my car drove me up to the entrance I relished the crisp white walls, spacious lobby, restaurant area and countless treatment rooms. A quick tour of the facilities presented the indoor pool with its floor-to-ceiling windows – it’s sleek aesthetic looked similar to a David Hockney painting. Then there was my suite with its unforgettable outdoor terrace overlooking Lake Geneva and where I would eat my meals each day. I relished every moment here and the cuisine, which I need to stress, is not your typical spa food. This is gourmet health food not limited to yoghurts, detox juices and cereals, but elaborately prepared pastas, soups, curries, sushi, even meat and fish. It depends on what a guest desires, but I can tell you that the food is most nourishing and an experience itself.
The spa pool overlooking the mountains. Courtesy of Clinique La Prairie, Montreux
I was there for a Master Detox over the course of four days. After being shown my room, I met with a doctor who checked the levels of heavy metals in my body using a special machine. I was high in silver and aluminium while also very low in magnesium, and for both I was given special vitamins, tea and a special concoction of standardised plant extracts that I was to take twice per day.
Over the next few days I proceeded through a several health and beauty treatments, each one tailor-made to my specific needs, which were to sleep more, relax and get my energy levels up again after a period of incessant travel. But for those who want more there are 50 specialists on hand, alongside several operating theatres, 20 post-operative rooms, six recovery suites in the medical centre where you book for a triple bypass, sports rehab, dental implants, hip replacement, and a comprehensive general check-up, which I was told, is popular among Russians. There is also a host of Middle Eastern guests who come regularly each summer for several weeks to recharge after a busy first half of the year. All in all, I was massaged, wrapped, soaked, steamed, facialised and also practiced private yoga sessions, personal training sessions and aerial yoga in the gym. It was everything that I needed and more.
It’s the attentive and friendly staff that make this place a gem. The conversations about health, wellness, art and design were priceless and just went to show how everything is interconnected in our day and age. I left glowing, but that was to be expected. What I didn’t expect was to feel an inner glow. I left with mental peace. This is not a yoga ashram or a meditation centre, but it doesn’t need to be in order to instil guests with tranquillity. The natural surroundings, impeccable service, food and commitment to the art of beauty and well-being were meditative experiences in themselves and for this I would return to Clinique La Prairie every year. laprairie.ch
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