I started at my bouillon at dinner and the teaspoon I was supposed to drink it with. It was only the second day of my five-night stay at The Original FX Mayr and the reality of a 600-calorie-a-day meal plan was hitting me hard.
Opened in 1976 along the scenic Lake Wörthersee in southern Austria, The Original FX Mayr is the first health clinic in the world to use the Mayr cure method developed by Austrian gastroenterologist Franz Xaver Mayr. Based on medical diagnosis and restoring gut health through cleansing, fasting, and mindful eating, it has been adopted by several wellness resorts around the world.
I arrived on a Friday night, picturing delicious, clean three-course meals with soothing spa treatments and casual countryside hikes. The first hint that this would not be your typical wellness programme presented itself in the welcome pack of scientific sounding supplements and the absence of a mini bar in my suite. There were no snacks anywhere, only colourful packs of herbal teas and big silver coolers of hot ginger water in the living room and the restaurant.
For the next few days, I dutifully swished coconut oil in my mouth upon waking up. To clear out my gut, I also popped potassium and magnesium tablets and drank alkaline powder solutions several times throughout the day. My frequent liquid bowel movements nearly pushed me over the edge, but Dr Ursula Muntean-Rock, head of The Original FX Mayr’s medical team, encouraged me to hold out. Whenever I felt uncomfortable, I could let her know, and she would adjust my dosage and diet accordingly.
Meals are taken at fixed times and are devoid of salt, gluten, sugar, and cow’s milk, relying instead on the natural flavours of the ingredients from the region for taste. As a result of frequent chewing, I discovered the beauty of vegetables, as well as buckwheat rolls and sheep’s yogurt at breakfast, accompanied by cold-pressed linseed or hemp oil. Twice a week, meat is served for lunch. Dinner is usually a vegetable bouillon or a soup. When bresaola and an egg appeared on consecutive breakfasts, I almost wept.
My initial medical diagnosis resulted in a customised plan that included treatments, such as alkaline detox baths, massages, and vitamin-infused intravenous drips. In addition, blood and urine samples were taken to assess my overall well-being, including food intolerances. The programme also introduced light morning exercises and hiking in the countryside six days a week. Guests who had gone through the programme recommended cycling and walking around the lake, and quick dips in the cold water — a bracing 4 deg C in winter — followed by sauna sessions.
Post-pandemic, such enthusiasm for health has become commonplace. Consulting firm McKinsey & Company noted a 27 to 65 per cent increase in the priority of wellness worldwide in its 2021 report on the wellness market that is estimated to be worth US$1.5 trillion (S$2 trillion) worldwide.
Twice a week, meat is served at lunch. Dinner is usually a vegetable bouillon or a soup. When bresaola and an egg appeared on consecutive breakfasts, I almost wept.
Besides better health, consumers also want better fitness, mindfulness, and beauty. Nutrition has always been important, but now they want their food to help them accomplish wellness goals as well. Across the markets, however, priorities vary. Those in Japan and Germany place a high priority on appearance and fitness, respectively. Respondents from Brazil and the United States were most keen on mindfulness, while those in China and the United Kingdom emphasised nutrition.
The latest trends at The Original FX Mayr confirm these findings. Managing director Gabrielle Schnitzler shared: “Our (Mayr) DNA remains unchanged, but we have developed significantly in the areas of nutrition, mental health, and beauty treatments, introducing new treatments based on scientific developments and modern medicine.” Examples include cryotherapy and an ICAROS virtual reality exercise machine used for core and balance training. Schnitzler has also observed that the average guest stay has risen from nine to 12 days “because of more issues to be solved”.
Without the jovial community, I would not have made it through those six days. First-timers signed up based on word-of-mouth recommendations, while an octogenarian had been there 40 times.
As muscular men persevered to finish their bouillons with teaspoons, I laughed along with a mother-daughter duo as we spotted each other comparing meal choices. My entire dining room section even drank our bouillon directly from our bowls at one point.
It wasn’t the health reset I had expected, but it was the one I needed. Over the course of my stay, the abdominal cramps that usually plagued me went away. It made me realise how much we can normalise after experiencing a better reality. Yeast and cow’s milk were the culprits in this case. As a result of removing them from my diet, I felt lighter and more alive, which motivated me to avoid them in the future.
Adding scenic lake views, fresh air, and heartwarming friendships only enhanced the whole experience.
Top medical wellness resorts in Asia and the Middle East
Rakxa Wellness & Medical Retreat
Rest and reset at this wellness sanctuary along Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River. Combining traditional and alternative medical practices with fitness, nutrition, and mindfulness options, each personalised package is tailored to address health concerns, from chronic pain to weight management. Get ready to be cosseted by Thai hospitality as you relax in a cosy villa or private residence and tuck into a deliciously healthy menu driven by seasonality and guided by an anti-inflammatory philosophy.
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The Farm at San Benito
Lush greenery, majestic mountain views and farm- to-table cuisine are a few reasons to choose this established luxury resort that’s a 90-minute drive south of Manila. The Farm’s internationally trained integrative medicine doctors and health professionals are adept at creating bespoke programmes that address a wide range of health concerns, including chronic illness, stress, and fitness challenges. Coming in a group? Book the new two-bedroom Mahogany Luxury Residences featuring local materials and contemporary art.
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Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som
Chiva-Som’s second resort in Qatar, which opened in March 2022, is the largest of its kind in the Middle East. Over 400 treatments combine traditional Arabic and Islamic medicine with herbal medications, spiritual therapies, and mind- body practices along with innovative healthy cuisine for a positive lifestyle change. Multigenerational families and individuals can enjoy a peaceful and enjoyable vacation in the adults-only Zulal Serenity or the family- friendly Zulal Discovery.