When I tell people I am spending five days at the world’s most famous detox clinic, some are suitably impressed while others recoil in mock horror. Yet always up for a challenge and in search of some much-needed peace and quiet I find myself joining the jet set on the beautiful shores of Lake Altaussee, enveloped by the awe-inspiring Salzkammergut mountains in a bid to reset my mind, body and soul at Viva Mayr’s newest property. But don’t be fooled, this is not a retreat as you or I know it. Frequented by a smattering of celebrities and high flyers, the notoriously iron-fisted Mayr Clinic is a breeding ground for Type A’s in need of a yearly MOT. Based on the highly successful detoxification program developed by Dr. Franz Xaver Mayr in Austria almost a hundred years ago, modern Mayr medicine aims to re-educate bad eating habits and tackle an array of health concerns by the way of a carefully selected medical program and individual diet plan tailored to heal the gut and remove digestive blockages.
Nature at its best: the view from the jetty at Viva Mayr
On arrival I am met by Dr Gerda Prinz, a no-nonsense kind of woman who pokes and prods me and takes me through a series of extensive diagnostic tests including blood and urine samples, applied kinesiology and vitamin and mineral analysis, that will help her design my personal program for the days ahead. The tests reveal I have a slight intolerance to wheat, and that my iron levels are extremely low, along with my Vitamin D levels despite living in a country with 365 days of sunshine. My first few days are something of a blur as I shuffle limply from treatment to treatment, one seemingly more unusual than the next, broken up by intervals where I’m served glasses of Epsom salts and day old pieces of spelt bread (to teach me to chew properly). It’s a full time job remembering to take my supplements (all 13 of them) on top of the four-times-daily alkaline “base powder” (designed to combat acidity in the gut), but I am determined to follow the experts.
Luxuriate at one of Viva Mayr's relaxation areas by Lake Altaussee
The cuisine, prepared by Martin Stein, the former head chef of Gault et Millau Restaurant in Vienna is beginning to be all we talk about – to the point of borderline obsession. Beautifully prepared and presented, breakfast is by far the most exciting meal of the day with the addition of a boiled egg, white cheese and sliced avocado. Lunch is a piece of fish or meat about half the size of your palm, dotted with miniature vegetables. Dinner is the most soul destroying: a pot of clear broth or tea that we sip with a teaspoon. We are to eat in silence, and to chew up to 40 times per bite, which rightly proves to be both as uncomfortable and difficult as one would imagine. Strangely, the agony seems to create a kind of unity. We were in this together and we simply had to surrender.
Refresh with a swim in the salt water pool with glorious mountain views
After dinner we would take a spectacular hike around the surrounding mountains, a dip in the icy lake or retreat to our rooms with a good book. Mine has a huge wrap around balcony with fabulous views of the mountains where I would sit each evening and dream of what poisons I would indulge in on my escape. It isn’t until about midway through that I begin to understand it all and the things that had seemed somewhat cruel and unnecessary before started to make perfect sense. The painful pressure point and uncomfortable gut massages, the being hooked to a drip with antioxidants – it was starting to work. Heavens, I even started to look forward to the Nasel Reflex Therapy (where a Q-tip soaked in essential oils is inserted alarmingly high into the nostril to stimulate an acupuncture point at the bottom of the sinuses). The headaches and the fog all but disappear and I realise I truly haven’t felt this wonderful in a very long time. It is here and now I make a note there should always be time set aside for a physical and emotional clear-out. And at Viva Mayr it works. Admittedly, perhaps in the way Maoism did. Would I do it all again? In a heartbeat.
Treat yourself to an evening sauna to unwind
From Dhs860 a night excluding all medical and cosmetic treatments; Vivamayr.com