Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 28 November 2020

15 of the world's most luxurious medical spas: from Switzerland to Germany

With the global pandemic encouraging us all to be more mindful of our health, wellness holidays are sounding increasingly appealing

From left: Chiva Som in Thailand, Sha Wellness Clinic in Spain and Vana Wellness Retreat in India. 
From left: Chiva Som in Thailand, Sha Wellness Clinic in Spain and Vana Wellness Retreat in India. 

While Covid-19 has brought most travel plans to a halt this year, it has encouraged us to be more mindful of our health. The global pandemic has brought into stark relief the idea that good health is the most valuable thing you can have, and many people are now taking more time to invest in their overall wellness.

So, as travel restrictions are lifted, the idea of a trip to a specialist medical spa (or medi-spa) may appeal. Here are some of the best around the world.

Austria

Original Mayr Health Centre in Austria. Courtesy Original Mayr Health Centre
Original Mayr Health Centre in Austria

Thanks to Austrian doctor Franz Xaver Mayr, who proved in the 19th century that all manner of illnesses can be greatly improved or wholly cured simply by getting the digestive system functioning properly, the country’s FX Mayr medi-spas are some of the best known in the world.

Because the updated Modern Mayr Method puts all patients on an ultra-plain diet initially for a week – clear soups, sheep-milk yoghurt, spelt rolls, steamed vegetables – weight loss is guaranteed, whichever one you choose. The Original FX Mayr clinic (original-mayr.com), located on the tree-lined shore of Lake Worthersee, is the simplest and least expensive, with treatment packages costing from Dh6,210 a week, excluding accommodation costs.

The glamorous lakeside VivaMayr Maria Worth and VivaMayr Altaussee (vivamayr.com), in the mountains, are more high-tech, with state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment and outstanding doctors. Both appeal for a long stay. Another Mayr outpost, the Park Igls hotel (park-igls.at) is run by medic, Dr Peter Gartner, but the pared-back setting, near Innsbruck, makes it better for short stays: a quick intensive check-up, perhaps.

The recently overhauled Lanserhof Lans (lanserhof.com), where you have a view of the mountains from your bed, still has some of the cosiness that 20 years ago made it a favourite of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, even though it is now the founding spa in a high-powered group that includes the world’s first medical gym, in London. It practices the Lans Med Concept, which combines holistic medicine with regeneration and prevention.

Germany

Deep in the Bavarian countryside, the sleek Lanserhof Tegernsee (lanserhof.com) feels very much like alpha-male territory – all crisp spare lines, with an emphasis on results in the white-on-white spa.

In Baden-Baden, pretty Villa Stephanie (oetkercollection.com) is especially pleasing if you’re on your own or want to take the place over in its entirety: there are only 15 rooms. It’s attached to a holistically orientated medical and dentistry clinic where the star of the show, Dr Harry Konig, attracts patients from all over the world. Many turn to him when they have exhausted mainstream medical offerings.

A similarly minded team of doctors – all keen to explore natural treatments – are in residence at Buchinger Wilhelmi (buchinger-wilhelmi.com), on the shore of Lake Constance. This is one of the few clinics in the world to specialise in fasting; it’s run by the great grandson of the founder, Dr Otto Buchinger, whose rheumatoid arthritis was cured by a regime of fasting. Agony for the first day or two, then unexpectedly easy, the programme can cure a range of diseases. A 10-day stay costs from Dh10,778.

India

Vana Wellness Retreat in India. Courtesy: Vana Retreats 
Vana Wellness Retreat in India. Courtesy Vana Retreats

Astonishingly well-priced for what it offers – excellent practitioners of Ayurvedic, Tibetan and traditional Chinese medicine in an exquisitely minimalist setting backed by forest – Vana Wellness Retreat (vana.co.in) will tempt you to stay put for as long as possible. And not only because of the slog of a journey it takes to get there – a flight to Dehradun and a three-hour drive past paddy fields.

It’s a delight: calm, uncluttered, with delectable vegetarian food, yoga classes in the open air, an abundance of health-orientated books in the library and a pleasing sense of privacy. Endearingly shy, owner Veer Singh, heir to a pharmaceutical family fortune, is often around, quietly delighting in seeing the power of ancient treatments proved yet again. A seven-night stay starts at Dh7,000, while a transformational 30-day stay costs about Dh29,495.

The Philippines

The Farm (thefarmatsanbenito.com) is 33-room “holistic eco-resort” in a deliciously jungly setting, located 90 minutes by car from Manila. It has been a hideout for dozens of high-profile guests wanting to lose weight, diabetes and hypertension management are specialities.

Founder Dr Elizabeth Ixmeier practices integrative medicine (blending mainstream and alternative approaches) with IV therapy and live-blood analysis aimed to shock you into wanting to improve the ragged shape of your corpuscles. Stays start at Dh2,130 a night.

Spain

Sha Emirates is scheduled to open in 2023, after Sha Mexico, but for the time being, the Sha Wellness Clinic (shawellnessclinic.com) has one location, half an hour’s drive from Alicante.

The founder is a man on a mission. His father saw his cancer cured after switching to the kind of vegetarian diet enforced at the spa. A drive to spread the word about the life-changing possibilities of a change of diet, plus doctors specialising in a range of conditions, combined with the ease of getting there, have helped ensure its popularity.

Switzerland

A spa room at Clinique La Prairie. Clinique La Prairie
A spa room at Clinique La Prairie

Excellence in all things could be the Swiss motto. The lakeside Clinique La Prairie (cliniquelaprairie.com), near Montreux, established its reputation in the 1930s and is arguably the best medi-spa in the world. It has 50 specialist doctors, two operating theatres and 14 recovery suites, all just across the garden from a light-filled, elegant spa and 32-room residential building. It’s super-expensive, of course. It costs Dh149,000 if you book the week-long intensive Premium Revitalisation programme.

Meanwhile, there’s a team of 30 doctors working at Grand Resort Bad Ragaz (resortragaz.ch), an hour’s drive from Zurich and in the foothills of the Alps. It’s also where the Swiss Olympic ski teams get checked out. And at the new Burgenstock resort, perched on a mountaintop above Lake Lucerne, the 137-room Waldhotel medi-spa (buergenstock.ch) has such an exhilarating setting that you’ll feel healthier before you’ve settled into any treatment programme. Two-room suites work well for family groups.

Thailand

Chiva Som in Thailand. Courtesy The Travel Collection
Chiva Som in Thailand

On the beach at the Thai royals’ favoured resort, Hua Hin, a three-hour drive from Bangkok, Chiva-Som (chivasom.com) has been routinely pulling in celebrity guests such as Kate Moss for more than 30 years. That’s thanks to outstanding yoga therapists, gym instructors and painless detoxes (the food here is a miracle of low-calorie deliciousness).

Updated: August 16, 2020 07:09 PM

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