My favourite kind of holiday is one where everything is different to what I do at home. Getting away from it ALL is what works for me; not just a change of scene but a change of routine.
So feeling run down, exhausted, lacking energy, flat – and fat, I began to dream of a visit to the Original FX Mayr clinic in Austria. I’m a die-hard fan with a run of 8 annual visits – apart for the past 2 years when life (but mainly work) has prevented me from returning. I love the rigour of a strict, medically-supervised programme of diet, gentle exercise, therapeutic body treatments and plenty of sleep, all in beautiful surroundings. What I love more though is the feeling at the end of the week: that you’ve got back control of your life, that you feel and look better with renewed energy and purpose.
Then, out of the blue, a friend sent me a link to SIS Spa in Spain Mayr clinic in Tenerife at the Oceano spa that I’d never heard of before. The promise of better weather, a wider choice of flights and significantly less expensive compared to Austria had me booking without giving it a second thought.
As part of the Oceano Hotel and Spa’s healthy holidays menu, Mayr guests make up around 30% and though I was concerned about following a rigorous detox in close proximity to others who weren’t, the Oceano has got food envy sussed with a different dining room (though the wafts from the midweek barbecue had us all drooling). I was surprised to learn that the Oceano has been running its 7 Night Detox Mayr cure for nearly 20 years but hasn’t promoted it in the UK (most guests are continental, from Germany, Belgium, Holland and France) though there were 8 UK guests out of 40 when I was there so the message is getting through somehow.
I couldn’t help but make comparisons between the Austrian set-up and the Oceano’s (sea view versus lake view being just the start) but fundamentally, Mayr medicine, which puts digestive health at the centre of overall wellness is the common philosophy.
The hotel is an updated modernist 1960s building located on Tenerife’s rugged northern coast, with views over the sub-tropical gardens and swimming pools (both seawater, but one a tidal pool built into the rocks) across the Mediterranean, to the volcano, Teide.
All rooms have balconies that face the sea, and its constant presence is like a pulse, slowing you down and encouraging you to breathe deeply of its restorative ions. The Mayr clinic is in a separate low rise building housing a suite of doctors’ rooms, therapy rooms and a gym, all overlooking the ocean.
What is reassuring, is that the Mayr medicine principles – prompting the body’s natural cleansing processes – are identical to those of the Original Mayr in Austria. In fact, my doctor originally trained there.
Each guest’s visit begins with a health check and there are two follow up sessions during the week featuring the Mayr’s renowned manual abdominal massage that helps digestion. The doctor prescribes your diet (for breakfast, I was on hard bread and goat’s yogurt (from a local organic herd) with a slice of papaya for its digestive enzymes; for lunch, a hard roll, soup and a slice of avocado for essential fats (which, I’m convinced, stops the inevitable mid week detox brain fog ); and for dinner… almost nothing, just some bouillon or tea and later on in the week when my energy was flagging, a rice cake or two. This therapeutic fasting is designed to do two things: slow your digestion, encouraging you to chew food properly to begin the digestive process in the mouth, rather than put pressure on the stomach; and alkalise your system. Every morning, a glass of Epsom salts in water encourages the body’s natural intestinal cleansing while colonic irrigation is available for guests who want it.
I was slightly nervous that without the cosseting, almost nannying approach of the Austrian Mayr, where you’re made to feel wonderfully incapable of anything, I’d struggle to stay on top of the programme, but strangely, I felt more empowered and energised to follow my daily regime (a choice of gentle exercise before breakfast – yoga, stretching, meditation); massages (some of the best I’ve ever had and this from three different therapists); spa treatments – the hotel’s location on the coast makes it the perfect venue for thalassotherapy using seawater and seaweed to remineralise the body; or just relaxing – something that I find increasingly difficult, especially with the diversion of social media and work only ever a quick email away.
What I believe Oceano has in its favour apart from its location, is a modern holistic view where all therapies contribute to the overall package. Yes, Mayr medicine is at the heart of it all but from Ayurvedic massages to the seaweed and sea water therapies (even the beauty treatments are by Thalgo, the marine based brand) all made sense in terms of detoxification and remineralisation of the body. Couple this with the approach of Robin, the Oceano’s resident personal trainer, which chimed with my need for some headspace rather than better muscle tone: he taught me some stretches to compensate for a life spent on a laptop, and a tai chi based meditation that I’ve continued to use to induce calm. But more than anything, when I let my mind wander back there, it’s the presence of the sea and its ability to lull and then revive a flagging spirit that wins out.
To book: www.spa-in-spain.com