Lyndsey Steven checks into VivaMayr Altaussee where she tries Nasal reflex therapy, chats to unwinding corporates and hears why you shouldn’t eat raw after four
“Alot of men are really fatigued,” Dr Sepp Fegerl tells me. With the bucolic view through his window of lakes and forest, gentle meadows and snowy peaks, I’m finding it difficult to concentrate. But then distraction is clearly written into the DNA of VivaMayr Altaussee.
“It’s not only women who are striving to be the perfect wife, mother and career woman,” continues the idyllic health resort’s Medical Director.“We have a lot of male clients who are getting onto planes ten times a week – this is not healthy. They are overweight, stressed and suffer from insomnia. What’s more, is that the state of desperation in our male clients is sometimes higher than in our female clients.”
Dr Fegerl and his team believe that one ten-day stay can add ten years to a lifespan, while adopting their clean living principles could give you at least another 20 years. Staff follow the doctrines of Austrian physician Dr Franz Xaver Mayr who started practising more than 100 years ago – and who lived until he was 90. He believed humans unknowingly self-harm by storing up toxins in their intestines. To this end, he developed the Mayr Cure, a combination of fasting, sweating, sleeping, sensible living and chewing. Lots of chewing. Your ears need to echo from chewing.
Through word of mouth (General Manager Dr Dieter Resch tells me that they never advertise, though the website, vivamayr.com/en/altaussee, is comprehensive), it’s a philosophy that’s gained an avid following. What’s more, big corporations are buying into it as a method in maintaining a healthier, happier ship.
“More companies are sending top-tier executives to VivaMayr in a bid to make them look after themselves better. A lot of big finance and pharmaceutical companies, including ones from Dubai, are benefitting from our programmes,” says Dr Fegerl.
It’s a sentiment that Paul Joseph, co-founder of Health and Fitness Travel, reaffirms.“With men still significantly less likely than women to make time to consult a doctor, wellness retreats catering to men offer a more approachable means of addressing health issues,” he says.“We had the GM of one of the biggest banks of England for three weeks recently just to take a break and re-energise,” Dr Dieter reveals. And indeed, while women are still slightly outnumbering men in the detox spa stats stakes, during my stay here I actually encounter a greater proportion of men.
Jonas, a 42-year-old originally from Munich, who now works in real estate in New York, says the soothing scenery alone is medicine for the soul.“I’m loving being in the mountains with all this fresh, clean air and walks around the lakes are so revitalising.”
Interestingly, he’s not here with a partner, but with his parents, a jolly, sprightly couple who permanently appear to be high on life. Perhaps it’s because they too are relishing being so far removed from the everyday world.
As a music manager Rob, who could almost pass as a millennial (confirming Dr Dieter’s claim that more young people are signing up to VivaMayr), is someone who spends his life up in the air, with his weeks spent commuting between LA and London. With his foppish hair and youthful face he could be in one of the boy bands he manages – if it weren’t for his sluggish, puffy physique.
As I sit down for Nasal reflex therapy according to Roeder, a naturopathic treatment for sinusitis, rhinitis and headaches, I chat to Steve. With an earbud poking out my nose. Thankfully he’s having the same treatment and also looks like a one-horned aardvark so there’s no need for any embarrassment. On the contrary, being in this somewhat absurd situation together allows us to chat more freely to each other. A 52-year Brit, Steve has been living in a quiet village in the south of France for 16 years. He’s healthy and handsome. But he’s in a wheelchair.“Multiple Sclerosis,” he tells me,“I’ve had it for 20 years. It came as quite a shock, especially since I had been so active before.”While the doctors here are not promising to cure him, they have said that with the right diet, minerals and treatments, they would be able to help his mobility in some way.
Improving quality of life for all their guests is key, with the main focus being on preventing “civilisation diseases” like gout, diabetes, high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis and cancer.
“One example,” says Dr Dieter,“is a Turkish family of six
Below: The pine and sorbet coloured lobby
Above: The relaxation area around the indoor pool