Feeling tired and rundown? Head for the Vivamayr detox clinic in Austria, founded on the theories of Dr Franz Mayr, a 20th century Austrian medic who believed that the key to good health is the digestive system…
Words: Trish Lesslie
I was looking and feeling exhausted. Even the smallest task felt like wading through treacle and my belly was bloated like a beach ball. Yes, it was time to visit the Vivamayr Clinic, the shiny temple to wellbeing on the banks of the beautiful Lake Worth.
Founded on the theories of Dr Franz Mayr, a 20th century Austrian medic who believed that the key to good health is in the gut, it’s where the ‘wellthy’ of the world come to relax and recharge. Whether they’re trying to avoid or recover from burn-out, lose weight or simply fine-tune their already vital selves, it’s the detox resort of choice for those in the know.
The exquisite setting of this elegant hotel-meets-clinic sure helps. Breathing in the fresh air while taking in the stunning lakeside view from my room’s private terrace, I could feel the stress melting away before I’d even unpacked. But while rest and relaxation are key elements of modern Mayr medicine, there’s more to ‘the cure’ than lounging by the lake or indulging in a daily massage.
Dr Mayr devoted his life to discovering how to improve the health of the gut and the crack team of medical doctors at Vivamayr will help you achieve just that. The focus is on restoring the body’s acid/alkaline balance and giving the digestive system a break so it heals itself. That doesn’t mean starving, but it does involve a diet made up of easily digested ingredients with the focus on alkalising foods.
The focus is on restoring the body’s acid/alkaline balance and giving the digestive system a break so it heals itself. That doesn’t mean starving, but it does involve a diet made up of easily digested ingredients with the focus on alkalising foods
The theory goes that a diet too high in sugars and/or animal protein, wolfed down too quickly, will increase acid causing long-term health problems. Stress, coffee and alcohol can up acid levels too. Alkalising foods, predominantly vegetables, and herbal teas have the opposite affect, so there are plenty of those on offer.
Other cornerstones of the regime are daily abdominal massage and drinking alkalising powder dissolved in water several times a day. Taking ‘cleansing’ Epsom salts every morning is also usually recommended, though every guest is put on their own tailor-made version of the cure. As my allocated doctor Adriana Fink puts it, modern Mayr medicine is about cleaning out the oven, not just burning better wood.
Following an in-depth consultation, Dr Fink devised a diet, exercise and complementary therapy programme designed to reduce my bloating. She also prescribed plenty of rest – no challenge in a hotel set in a peaceful, picture-perfect village on the banks of the turquoise-blue Lake Worth.
Between massages, sunning myself and dips into the cool, clear waters of the lake, I didn’t make as much time as I could have for the cutting-edge facilities. There are numerous saunas, various steam baths, infrared light chambers, an indoor pool, a modern gym and lovely lounges with panoramic views.
Outdoor sports such as Nordic walking and rowing are also on offer, but there’s only so much you can fit in when you’ve been ordered to relax. Still, I’m glad I found time for a radiance-boosting high-tech facial in the lovely beauty salon.
Despite the emphasis on detox, the food is delicious. Sure, portions are on the small side, but when you’re encouraged to chew every mouthful around 40 times (digestion begins with mastication, after all) you really do savour every morsel. Flavours burst through and your brain registers when you’re full – which I discovered can be surprisingly quickly – so the desire to overeat disappears.
Despite the emphasis on detox, the food is delicious. Sure, portions are on the small side, but when you’re encouraged to chew every mouthful around 40 times, you savour every morsel
According to my ‘prescription’, dinner was always a tasty soup of some description, accompanied by roast potatoes and cold-pressed oil, all alkalising. Not exactly hearty, but just enough to sate me before an early night. The only real food downside was the hard bread served at breakfast. It’s deliberately tough, designed to get you chewing your food properly, since digestion begins in the mouth. But even paired with a choice of tasty marinated or poached salmon, flavoursome local cheeses or a soft-boiled egg, masticating this stuff soon becomes tiresome.
Positive changes started quickly. My bloating reduced by 80% within three days and had all but vanished by the end of my two-week stay. I’d also lost 5lb, which was a welcome bonus. I left feeling rested, relaxed and happy, if more than a little sad to be leaving this beautiful, peaceful place.
Go if you’re feeling under par; you’ll soon feel better. And go if you feel great – you’ll stay on top form for longer. It’s the best health treat you can give yourself.
See vivamayr.com. Austrian Airlines flies to Klagenfurt via Vienna from Heathrow