The lowdown Don’t be fooled by the glass of bubbly offered to you upon arrival. It’s the last you’ll get while staying here: this is no indulgent spa retreat. Think prescriptive, medicinal and old-school detox. Sound like your worst holiday nightmare? Only those after rest, losing weight or sorting out a nagging health issue need apply. Set at the top of a small hill along the shores of Austria’s Lake Worth, near Klagenfurt, Austria, the F.X Mayr Clinic follows the principles of the famous Dr Franz Mayr - a tailored eating plan to cleanse your digestive system and improve your all-over health, skin and energy levels. This may sound too good to be true but results are practically guaranteed. In fact it’s so effective that one out of every three people I spoke to during my stay were return visitors (three, four and even ten times!), plus, it’s the ‘diet’ clinic of choice for royalty, politicians, socialites and Hollywood stars (Uma Thurman has made a visit).
The rooms Forget fluffy pillows, candles, room service and staff waiting on your every move. At the Mayr you’re treated to allergy-free mattresses, lemon-scented bathroom spray (purging toxins features heavily here!) and a room that reminds me of my uni days spent in a dorm: compact, sparse and home to a small single bed. The upside? It’s much cleaner than any dorm room I’ve ever seen and the facilities are sparkling clean, staff (your treatment is overseen by a medical doctor and clinical nurses, therapists and front desk staff are all on-hand to help 24 hours a day) are punctual and practical and, most importantly, super knowledgeable.
Eating and (not) drinking Once you’ve had your meet-and-greet with your designated doctor you’re given a tailored eating plan based on how badly you need a detox. The meal plan ranges from a strict tea fast to the regeneration diet (meaning you get steamed veggies and fish at lunch). The main basis of all diets is eliminating caffeine and sugar and sticking to alkaline, easy-to-digest food. Even more essential is how you eat. Chewing your food 30 times after each bite and eating slowly are the keys to a flatter stomach. Another cardinal rule is no drinking with meals. It dilutes digestive enzymes, meaning food isn’t broken down as easily.
The spa It may not be ultra-pampering, but despite the Mayr being fully booked the facilities are virtually empty and tranquility is easy to find. In between scheduled reflexology sessions, doctor appointments, stomach massages, and detox baths you’re free to relax in the infrared sauna, steamroom, and pool, take a turn in the saline cabin (great for congested sinuses) or indulge in beauty treatments – your run-of-the-mill spa menu features here. Depending on your ‘diagnosis’ your doctor may also recommend you book in for blood work, allergy food testing, a colonic or a fat-blasting treatment.
My experience The evening I arrive, dinner consists of soup, two pieces of spelt bread and my choice of a protein side spread (I pick ‘white cheese with red pepper’). I eat every last crumb as my table companion (a four–timer to the clinic) warns me this could be the most amount of food I eat all week. The next morning, I take my Epsom salts and wait for the purging to start. Nothing. Breakfast is half an hour later (it’s a Mayr rule to take salts 30 minutes before eating) with the same menu options as dinner. Meeting Dr Doris Schuscha, she ‘prescribes’ me the Candida diet, which is one of the least restrictive. I’ll be sticking to sheep’s yogurt, gluten-free bread or corn crackers, a variety of soups and a hot veggie dish at lunch. I’m also given an alkaline powder to take three times a day. The next few days follow similar to the first two with detox baths, a lymph massage and kniepping (improving your body’s circulation by dipping various body parts into consecutive tubs of cold and hot water in order to shock the system). By now I’ve had all the side effects of detoxing – lethargy, headaches, and even loss of appetite. Pre-Mayr, try The Organic Pharmacy’s Detox Kit, £165 (0844 800 8399) a 10-day kit of supplements, liver and kidney drops and a body brush to help lessen the symptoms of the first few days. It’s only by day five that I feel normal again. In the end (after a full seven days), I’ve lost 1.5 kilos and gained a clear head, glowing skin and a flat and settled tummy. It’s truly a life-changing experience.
Out and about There are many options once the headaches and lethargy subside. Try biking to Maria Wörth-Dellach, an idyllic village on a peninsula featuring two ancient churches and options to windsurf, wakeboard and waterski. It might take some willpower to avoid the cafes and ice cream shops that litter the village streets. If you’d prefer to steer clear of any temptations, sign up to group hiking sessions in the hills with Judith, a Worthersee local and former mountaineer. She gives guided hikes two to three times per week, well worth it for the scenery and the fresh mountain air alone.
The details A solid seven days is recommended for optimal results. The seven night Classic Cure Package starts from 2,540 euros per person, including accommodation and food. Visit mayrandmore.com for more information.
Getting there Ryanair flies from London Stansted to Klagenfurt on a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday with fares starting from £29.99, one way (optional fees and charges not included). For reservations visit ryanair.com
By Malena Harbers