VIVAMAYR Altaussee may be about location location location and chewing chewing chewing but it’s about many other things too. It is no coincidence that you find the hotel perched on the edge of the wonderful Lake Altaussee under the watchful gaze of the majestic Styrian Salzkammergut Mountains. With health and wellbeing in mind, this location was handpicked for its beauty and genuine healing properties. With my first inhale of the crisp Austrian air my head already felt clearer. In fact, the locals have a saying for the air here: “Luft kur Ort” direct translation “Air cure region”. I was immediately in love with the region, it’s air and I could feel the cure coming on pretty quickly.

VIVAMAYR Altaussee is the one-year-old baby sister of the original VIVAMAYR Marie Worth, famous among a slew of Hollywood A-Listers, artists and supermodels for being the worlds best detox clinic for treating a range of health issues, from stress related burnout, insomnia, allergies, immune system deficiencies, diabetes and hormonal imbalance. ‘The Mayr Cure’ was developed in the early 20th century by the Viennese doctor Franz Xaver Mayr, who believed that gut and intestinal health is the key to health and longevity. More than a century later his theory has stood the test of time, and modern day studies couldn’t agree with him more.

The Mayr philosophy is simple. Good digestion equals good health and healthy nutrition is the key to preventing illness, obesity and disease. This may be a clinic but at no point do you feel ill or medicinal. At Mayr the aim is to heal illnesses we are not even aware of, and it’s not just about detoxing, it is about a change of life and habits longterm.

Our guts are the key to our immune health, mood (gut health has been proven to be a factor in anxiety and depression sufferers) skin, metabolic health and allergies. In fact at the Mayr clinic they quite rightly believe that almost every modern disease can be traced back to a bad diet and bad digestion. Weight is also linked to digestion, if you take care of what, how and when you eat, it can be the secret to being slim. It is all about what, when and how you eat here. Once you start to heal your digestive system, everything else falls into place.

Your stay kicks off with a visit to your designated doctor. I had the eyes and ears of Dr Prinz and Dr Sepp Fergel (the medical director). They practically read your mind (and your body) and due to Mayr Medical training they can spot illnesses a mile off. Kinesiology tests confirm what they seem to already know. Everything from insensitivities to allergies and blood and urine tests confirm what they have guessed, if not more. Based on this, your individualised diet plan is decided upon. Each day you return to your doc for lots of belly prodding, and most are subjected to the killer Epsom salt water in the morning, ensuring a swift visit to the loo mid conversation. Mine was a little gentler with magnesium salts (same effect, less violent). Expect to feel highs and lows, particularly if you’re coming down off caffeine.

Days are spent at the incredible medical spa, filled with holistic treatments and therapies. In fact some days you don’t see the time pass and find yourself late for dinner (a rare incident in my life when food is all I ever think about!) You can have as many or as few treatments as you like, but I highly recommend Liver/alkaline infusion IV drips, WATSU water healing, colonics, holistic foot spa, salt inhalation room, liver compress, algae body wrap to name a few. All of the treatments have been designed with immune boosting, stress releasing, regaining energy, gut improvement and general wellbeing in mind. The treatments are second to none, and all chosen specifically to heal. The fitness area is decked to the nines, with a fully equipped state of the art gym, swimming pool with a view to die for, and a series of Sauna’s, Steamrooms and Watsu pool. Loungers can be found everywhere if you feel you have overexerted, so take a book with you no matter where you go.

At the dinner table (you sit in the same place morning noon and night) and your table card lets the waiters know what you are and are not allowed to eat. The staff is dressed in traditional clothing, and wear wonderful smiles on their faces, prepared to ease you in. They know that most who come here are anticipating the worst. But this is a detox like no other. You won’t find salads and juices here, in fact they advise against it due to the inability of the gut to digest them, so cooked warm foods are best). The menu is surprisingly imaginative given the portions are small. Expect portions to dissipate through the day, Breakfast like a Queen, Lunch like a Princess and Dinner like a Pauper, but the food is so exquisite and oozing health that you don’t ever feel cheated.

The most important part of mealtimes however is  HOW you eat. It’s all about the Stop. Sit. Smell. Slow. Chew, Chew, Chew. 40 times per bite to be exact. This ensures that by the time you’ve finished you’re not only exhausted but also full. Chewing the correct food properly improves gut health. At first it’s quite punishing, but after a day or so of masticating everything to a pulp, it becomes second nature. There is a no phone policy, reading or talking at dinner – which takes away from your concentration of chewing and enjoyment of your meal. Expect things like delicious quinoa porridge with almonds and linseed oil (anti-inflammatory) for breakfast, roasted parsnips and fish with potato mash for lunch, and a chewing trainer (buckwheat/spelt roll) with broth for dinner.

Was it the chewing, the kinesiology, the food combo, the Austrian air, the supplements, the doctors, the infusions, the lake… I don’t know. But whatever it is it works. Do I believe in Miracles? I feel on top of the world after my stay so maybe now I believe in Mayr-acles 🙂

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