#9 Why it takes tough love to get in shape

The Sunday Telegraph - Travel - - Front Page -

All those early­sum­mer ar­ti­cles said it would take six weeks for me to get “beach body ready”, but it turns out Switzer­land’s Wald­ho­tel needed just three min­utes to trans­form my physique. That’s how long I stayed in the last of the three pro­gres­sively colder cham­bers that form the medispa’s Ice Lab. Ob­served through a win­dow by an at­ten­dant, I skipped and shad­ow­boxed at -166F (-110C) while dressed in gloves, head­band, mask, Y-fronts, socks and – most hu­mil­i­at­ingly – an oblig­a­tory pair of Crocs. Just 180 sec­onds is all it took to go from typ­i­cally pale Ir­ish­man to puck­ered, blue-pink rack of pork rigid in an abat­toir freezer. I was told it would work won­ders for my ner­vous sys­tem and me­tab­o­lism.

Opened in De­cem­ber, the Wald­ho­tel is the last of four ho­tels to launch at the year-old Bür­gen­stock Re­sort, about an hour’s drive south of Zurich. At an al­ti­tude of 1,640ft, the es­tate is flanked by cho­co­late-box chalets, rolling mead­ows and the Swiss Alps on one side. On the other, a sheer drop leads to the calm ex­panse of Lake Lucerne. I pitied com­pet­ing re­sorts as I drank in the views from the spa’s out­door in­fin­ity pool and Spices restau­rant, can­tilevered over the cliff face.

But the real al­lure for me was the prom­ise of some se­vere, Teu­ton­ic­style tough love. Writ­ing about lux­ury travel in­volves eat­ing and drink­ing to ex­cess, and I take my work se­ri­ously. I never turn down dessert – peo­ple want to know about the pas­try chef ’s pos­set – and it’s im­por­tant to give the som­me­lier time to shine, so I com­pen­sate by do­ing one health re­treat a year.

I’ve been to an Ayurveda-fo­cused re­treat in the In­dian Hi­malayas, and to Thai beach re­sorts of­fer­ing chimes and spir­i­tual sus­te­nance – but they’re too airy-fairy for me. What I want is hi-tech gad­getry, med­i­cal ex­perts with dour de­meanours and re­sults that can be mea­sured, with stats and graphs and reams of print­outs.

At Wald­ho­tel, that meant cook­ery lessons with a di­eti­tian (“I did my bach­e­lor’s the­sis on co­conut oil; you shouldn’t use it ev­ery day”) and con­sul­ta­tions with Bavaria’s Dr Pe­tra (“Our tests show you’re low on Vi­ta­min D, but you live in Eng­land so this is nor­mal”). Blood was taken, urine sam­pled, a full body scan de­tailed my body com­po­si­tion, fat mass and bone den­sity ex­actly.

I wanted help to re­main in good shape rather than to lose weight – which was just as well. Weirdly, the li­brary is crammed with temp­ta­tion­stir­ring ti­tles such as

and Be­cause some guests stay at Wald­ho­tel sim­ply to re­lax, the break­fast spread at the Ver­bena restau­rant in­cludes but­tery pas­tries and cheeses. Over my mil­let por­ridge, oil and av­o­cado, I was tempted by the brunch buf­fet’s saucy dessert ta­ble, wink­ing from the corner. (I spurned it, and kept the choco­lates left by my bed at turn­down each evening for the flight home).

More aligned with my ex­pec­ta­tions were the ad­vanced gym with its per­sonal train­ers, and the slew of spe­cial­ists – a den­tist, der­ma­tol­o­gist, phys­io­ther­a­pist and oth­ers – on standby. It felt at times as if those

Teu­tonic with­out tears: the Wald­ho­tel spa

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.