BEST FOR: GETTING YOU ON YOUR WAY TO HELP SOLVE ALMOST ANY HEALTH ISSUES
NOT FOR: THOSE WHO WANT TO BE IN THE HUSTLE AND BUSTLE OF A CITY
Austria’s Lanserhof Lans is no arriviste Mayr medical clinic. Ensconced in the idyllic Tyrolean village of Lans, it was established in 1974 as a hotel and in 1984 as a medical clinic, only the second to be founded in Europe after the original FX Mayr Health Centre in Lake Worth. What that means is that it provides detoxification and de-acidification of the body through gut cleansing rituals prescribed by the Austrian naturopath and researcher Dr Franz Xaver Mayr (1875-1965), which has evolved into a modern therapy over ensuing years.
Lans’ practice has built organically over the decades and in 2017 it has nine doctors and more than 70 therapists in its orbit – from osteopaths and physics to psycho-neuroimmunologists, cardiologists, dermatologists, sports scientists, energy practitioners and a team of beauty therapists (who offer not just mani-pedis but a range of non-surgical skin improvement programmes and medicines and healing processes. Over the years, cross-training methods have emerged here, with internal experts training medical ‘newbies’ and collaborations emerging with nearby university hospitals in regards to everything from prostate diagnostics to colonoscopies.
This is an all-things-for-all-men kind of place. You can come post-chemo to have inclusions to strengthen the immune system (nota bene: set aside ten days and about £5000 for that); to re-start your gut health (like me), or just to eat healthily and play golf, or to rest and have some rejuvenating beauty treatments. It’s a perfect place for anyone with white-coat syndrome, as it doesn’t feel like clinic – more of a spa hotel.
As every year Lans’ sharpens its practice, it was only right the design should sharpen up its act, too. This year, Lans emerged from the chrysalis of a £25m refurbishment, its first since 1999. The reimagined Lans, which has been designed by the contemporary stellar architect Christoph Ingenhoven, have embraced light, views and airy minimalism.
Everywhere, those gorgeous Tyrolean Mountains have been unveiled, from the waiting area in the clinic to the restaurant and some of the rooms. There is a handsome new bathhouse with a pool that has a salt content hovering at 3.5%, to mimic the ocean, and the new therapy room includes the famed cryotherapy chamber – more on that later.
Overall, the place exudes a sophisticated, stripped-down simplicity that makes your brain and emotions feel more uncluttered. But it doesn’t feel impersonal, and still manages to retain the small-scale, Bijou, close-knit feel of the Lans of yesteryear (and all of its clients). There are never more than about 85-90 people staying across a range of penthouses, suites and apartments.
Nature looms large here. Just to walk in the woods, with the sound of birdsong and swishing branches, the floor coated with pines, paths spreading out around you in concentric circles like a fairytale, is therapy. So is it to swim alone in the alfresco saltwater pool against a backdrop of pine-smothered hills.
If one follows the basic programme, indulging in the Lanserhof Energy Cuisine (organic, local, seasons, easily digestible food chewing between 30-50 times), their concept of digital detox (at meals, and as much as possible during the rest of the day, leave the phone in your room), and their basic cleansing rituals, then the effects will be profound.
The one ‘out-there’ treatment I chose was the cryotherapy, which involves passing through ice-cold chambers until you reach the -110-degree which you’re supposed to withstand for three minutes. Popular with athletes because it’s said to speed up the recovery of muscle injury, it is also a massive endorphin rush. Blood shrinks away from the extremities during that process – my arms and legs were tingling so much I started to worry – only to be pumped around them vigorously again when you emerge, which they say flushes out toxins. I can certainly attest to the endorphins – I haven’t felt that good in months.
I fell in love with my doctor Perpetua, whose immaculate room was completely white, with not a hair out of place. She was not only reassuringly experienced in the field of Mayr medicine, observing you in great details even before examining you physically – she was also emotionally intelligent, helping me in other areas of my life, some of which she had also had personal experience in. The abdominal massage, sometimes painful when administered by Mayr doctors, was not when Perpetua did it. When I told her that I had an irrational fear of having my blood pressure taken, she took it simply by holding the inside of my elbow gently. It was just another gentle act of holding in a litany of things in this deeply restful and reassuring place that added up to a feeling of being held. I came after a week, lighter mentally and physically – the latter by 4kg, to be precise), brighter and deeply at peace.
The ‘cure’ is broken down into diagnosis, detox and re-energisation. Diagnostics is personal to you and could take the form of flora analysis, laboratory screening, cardiovascular checks, nutritional diagnosis, a metabolic diagnosis, mental screening, neurobiological analysis or more.
Detox follows the path of a regular detox in that you are not permitted to consume nicotine, alcohol, sugar or caffeine. you’ll cut out intolerances and take supplements based on deficiencies and complaints. Epsom Salts or magnesium citrate trigger elimination in the gut and a physician vigorously massages your abdomen daily, Rolled into the base price are urine diagnostics and medical consultations, massages, reflexology, a body wrap, bio-impedance analysis and advice, detoxing foot baths, kneipping (putting limbs in hot then cold water to stimulate circulation) and all the workshops and group exercises. On top, you can optionally progress through a whirlwind of different diagnostics and treatments, from detoxing salt scrubs to drip-infusions of vitamins.
Free time is also really important: that healing power of rest and quiet that our bodies and minds crave in this hectic world. As a tired stressed and overworked single mother, my personal aim was cutting loose from everyday life to simply take care of and nurture myself without thinking about too much. SO I chose to not overload myself with excessive appointments. Every morning I found my way to a clearing in the woods where a Lans instructor prepared warm-up exercises then a run through the forest. I joined aqua aerobics, a group yoga and Pilates, swam in the outside pool every day and jumped into the hammam and saunas whenever I could.
Lans is gently sociable because you are seated with others, not alone, but there is no innate pressure to be clubbable. There is a strong contingent of Austrian, German and Swiss, the second tier being East Coast USA and UK, and third tier – about 10% – being Russian. There were lots of Russians when I was there, and in my time talking to two very amusing and intelligent Russian girls called Nata and Masha who knew each other from Moscow and had bumped into each other here. They introduced me to a deep, emerald green lake nearby where you could sunbathe on wooded boardwalks and drink in the mountain air.
Words by Lydia Bell
CONTACT: +43 512 386660
PRICE: PACKAGES START FROM 1,727 EUR FOR A WEEK EXCLUDING ACCOMMODATION. ROOMS FROM 370 EUR
NEAREST AIRPORT: INNSBRUCK AIRPORT
TRANSFER TIME: 25 MINUTES