Joanna reviews her stay at Modern Mayr Clinic, Park Igls:
Park Igls is a health retreat and medical spa specialising in holistic healing, detox and preventative medicine and is tucked away in the Alpine mountains of Austria, just a short 15-minute drive away from Innsbruck airport and the city centre.
I visited in September and was lucky enough to enjoy the 26-degree sun in the gardens, although the staff informed me that the snow-topped mountains in the colder months offer spectacular views. With 360-degree views of the mountains, I couldn’t imagine a more therapeutic setting to cleanse and recharge my mind and body under the care of the long-standing and experienced doctors and therapists.
The Mayr Cure
The original Mayr cure was developed by Dr Franz Mayr, a physician and scientist, in the early 20th century on the understanding that good health starts in the gut. This originally consisted of a method of therapeutic fasting with a diet of slowly chewed stale white bread and milk which he found was able to rest and detoxify the organs and help to lose weight quickly. Over the years, the doctors at Park Igls have developed a Modern Mayr method which combines early detection of illnesses and diseases with modern conventional medicine with six main principles to rest, cleanse, train, substitute, exercise and self-discover to specialise in programmes on sleeping disorders, stress and burnout, weight loss and dermatology problems.
The Medical Spa
At the start of my programme, I had a comprehensive initial examination with Dr Kogelnig who, after a thorough check-up with some weighing, questioning and gentle prodding announced that I was generally in good health and prescribed my treatments for my stay and vitamins to be picked up at reception.
My favourite treatments were the full-body exfoliation, where I was scrubbed from head to toe by 2 ladies then wrapped in plastic then left to relax on a bed which turned into a waterbed, leaving me floating blissfully for half an hour while the oils soaked in and the lymphatic drainage massage which was so relaxing that Dr Hanni Gartner had to wake me up from my slumber when it had ended. They try to allocate all your massages to the same therapist, so you get to know them well by the end of your stay. I did feel like my massages were more serious and medical than a relaxing treatment, as the treatment rooms are more like doctors’ offices rather than relaxing candlelit rooms.
The indoor pool is open until 10 pm for those not quite ready to go to sleep after dinner and is conveniently located next to the steam room and 2 saunas (one textile for those who prefer to not to be naked).
The hotel arranges a range of group activities throughout the week from yoga to Nordic walking to more strengthening fitness through the week so there’s plenty to do for an active stay. I particularly enjoyed the morning walks through the park and town before breakfast, as well as the morning gymnastics class with Mina.
The fitness centre is located on the 3rd floor of the hotel and offers stunning panoramic views of the mountains. I had a personal training session with Jessica, who was knowledgeable and friendly, giving me useful advice on how to improve my technique and make my workouts more effective back home.
I arrived on a Sunday, which is recommended as there isn’t much happening in the hotel then, so it’s nice to settle in and join the welcome cocktail and evening lecture to learn more about the Mayr Cure in preparation for the start of your programme on Monday.
Throughout the week, there is a range of educational lectures and activities available to guests from hikes in the mountains to golf lessons on the onsite putting course for those wanting to perfect their swing. I found the Sleep Coaching talk particularly useful as I had recently got into a habit of waking up in the middle of the night so was given tips for better sleep at home. I was given a complimentary bus ticket to go into Innsbruck centre which is definitely worth a visit with its colourful buildings and cute shops, although it wasn’t easy to resist the cafes and ice cream shops.
There is a relaxation area with a library filled with books and newspapers in a selection of languages, a pool table and board games, a tea bar and a grand piano. You’re encouraged to drink 3-4 litres of water, or as Dr Gartner said in one of the Mayr lectures, 1 glass of water for every hour of your 12 hour waking day, so there is water available in almost every room and corridor you enter in the hotel and spa as a not so subtle reminder. I was given a complimentary bus ticket to go into Innsbruck centre which is definitely worth a visit with its colourful buildings and cute shops, although it wasn’t easy to resist the cafes and ice cream shops.
I stayed in a Deluxe double room which was spacious and well equipped for a comfortable stay with generous wardrobe space. I would definitely recommend a more spacious room if you’re there for a longer stay. There was a spacious sitting area with a desk which led onto the balcony, equipped with a small table and a deckchair, offering spectacular views of the Tyrolean mountains. The bathroom had a separate shower and bathtub equipped with fluffy towels and dressing gowns as well as a hot water bottle to prepare for the pre-bedtime liver detox compresses. You’re encouraged not to use any moisturising lotions as this can block the skins ability to act as a detoxifying agent, so only a bar of organic herbal soap is provided along with shampoo.
The purpose of the Mayr diet is to prevent new toxins being formed by ‘predigesting’ food whilst still in the mouth making it less work for the digestive system. There are 8 different levels of Modern Mayr cuisine from fasting with teas and broths to food combining menus, some of higher levels even with desserts.
For my first dinner on my arrival day, I wandered into the restaurant prepared for my first meal of soup and bread. Greeted by the cheery waitress, she led to me to my table where she explained that I would have all my meals at this table for the duration of my stay as well as the ground rules that mobile phones, reading and talking were not allowed when eating and that each bite should be chewed 30 times in order to produce saliva to help with digestion. I was pleasantly surprised to be served soup for starter followed by fish with vegetables for my main course and was pleasantly surprised at how flavoursome the meal was. The dining room is silent with no sound, apart from the occasional crunch of the crispbread, so you can focus on chewing your food without any distractions. There is a sign on the table reminding me to chew slowly and thoroughly and not to drink water throughout the meal.
For the rest of my stay, I am prescribed diet level 4 (approximately 1,000 calories per day) by Dr Kogelnig which consists of a bowl of Mayr soup, bread roll and 50g of protein or a bowl of porridge for breakfast - I must confess I did end up choosing the porridge with cinnamon towards the end of my stay as I had started to crave sugar. Lunch and dinner started with a vegetable soup, followed by a main course for lunch and crispbread with 50 grams of protein for dinner. I had been worried about portion sizes prior to my arrival but discovered that a bowl of soup is actually very filling when consumed with a teaspoon and attempting to chew it and I often wasn’t able to finish my main courses. For the last meal of my stay, the waitress cheerily announced to me that I was allowed a dessert although I had to limit my intake of the other courses in fear that I wouldn't be able to appreciate my dessert fully.
A Typical Day
It's recommended to start with bitter salts first thing in the morning and at least 30 minutes before breakfast, to get the system started in the morning which meant a few spontaneous trips to the bathroom throughout the day.
This was followed by breakfast which is served between 7.30 am – 9.30 am then onto my daily Kneipp circuit which involved sitting with my feet in warm water for 5 minutes before circling a small pool of very cold water 3 times, to stimulate the blood flow. The day is then quite busy with treatments and activities until after dinner which is between 6 pm and 7 pm. One of the highlights is being able to wander around in my dressing gown during the daytime. I don't think the novelty of having breakfast and lunch in my gown will ever wear off.
After dinner, I usually collected my pot of tea from the tea bar to take to my room before heading back to my room for my nightly abdominal wrap (essentially a hot water bottle) to improve the detoxifying functions of the liver just before you go to sleep. I was usually asleep by 9.30 pm, compared to my usual 11 pm bedtime back home.
Expect early nights and early starts here. Appointments normally start around 9 am so you want to make sure you time breakfast by then. There isn’t much to do in the evenings apart from the occasional lecture which is usually finished by 8.30 pm so everyone usually retires to their room.
Park Igls is ideal for those looking to cleanse their body and mind in a beautiful and calming setting. While Park Igls is not the most luxurious hotel, you are coming here for the experience and knowledge of the long-standing staff. I met many guests from Amsterdam, Switzerland, Germany and Austria who return year after year and make sure to request the same doctors and therapists each time.
Who It's Best for
I would go as far as saying that a stay at Park Igls is best experienced as a solo traveller. The guests I met were mostly solo travellers, with some couples and friends. One of the principles of the Mayr cure is self-discovery and your stay here will be a great time to reflect on your emotional and physical state.
In Austria, a single occupancy room generally means a single bed, so if you do prefer a bigger bed, make sure you book a double room.
Find out more about Park Igls here or call to speak to one of our specialists on +44(0) 203 886 0082