If you are looking for a detox retreat for beginners, you probably can’t get a better recommendation than the one our beauty editor visited when checking in at our November Spa of the Month, Clinique La Prairie.
Tucked away in Montreux, affectionately known as the Swiss Rivera, Clinique La Prairie is one of the original longevity retreats – putting the scientific study of how to age better at the heart of its Revitalisation programmes since 1931. With the five-day Detox Reset retreat, the clinic now offers one of the most luxurious detox retreats yet, which comes highly recommended for anyone who is new to detoxing or those with stress-filled, busy schedules. It’s no wonder she heard, “I’m so glad to be back … for my 17th visit,” on her visit.
From a programme packed with indulgent spa treatments and appointments with leading medical doctors, to a restaurant serving such delicious meals you will forget they are gluten, sugar, and dairy-free, if you are seeking a detox retreat for beginners with more pleasure than (hunger) pain, here’s why Clinique la Prairie is our health spa of the month.
Founded by the cellular scientist Professor Paul Niehans, Clinique La Prairie’s pioneering retreats have attracted many truly globally-renowned names over the years, including Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, and even Pope Pius XII (who was treated by Professor Niehans at the Vatican). It’s famous guest list, and status as one of the only five-star wellness retreats with a private medical clinic, certainly makes the headlines, but that’s not the only thing that sets the clinic apart. In fact, it’s arguably not even it’s incredibly science-focused approach, which sees your concerns treated holistically across four principles: Medical Insight, Nutrition, Movement and Wellbeing. Instead, it’s the emphasis on ensuring you feel (not just look) good throughout and long-after your stay, building on the principle that happiness has a key part to play in rebalancing your energy.
That means, while traditional detox retreats can often feel like going ‘cold turkey’, with limited food and even less things to do, the Detox Reset programme is designed to help you recover and recharge in incredible comfort, using the latest science in nutrition, aesthetics and fitness in the process. With a focus on medical testing and analysis to get the heart of your stress, fatigue, and general wellbeing, you’ll emerge from your stay with a greater understanding of what makes your body ‘tick’, as well as having indulged in dining and treatments that pamper you like the very best five-star experiences.
THE DETOX RETREAT
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The five day, four night, Detox Reset retreat starts, as with all Clinique La Prairie’s programmes, with a thorough medical screening (the Medical Insight principle), which is designed to help the doctors build a comprehensive picture of your current and projected health. Consider it your yearly health MOT, comprising a general health evaluation, blood analyses and urine sampling to highlight any areas of focus or concern, and an opportunity to provide personalised recommendations for your treatment plan going forward. There’s a clever heavy metals screening appointment too, which can be useful to decode any side effects of living in heavily polluted areas, as well as a body composition scan to look at your muscle, fat and visceral fat scores, which again will help define your diet and exercise itinerary during your stay.
It’s not all doctors and medical testing though. In fact, you’ll spend probably just as much time in the spa (the Wellbeing principle), with detoxifying treatments for your face and body utilising the latest high-tech devices and techniques. Even the Movement principle doesn’t have a ‘no pain, no gain’ focus and nothing tends to be earlier than breakfast at 8am. That means you won’t come to dread exercise’s presence on your daily schedule. Instead, you can enjoy movement assessments or personal training with a coach to get the most out of your fitness routine, plus wellbeing boosting activities such as mountain hiking, breathwork and yoga dotted throughout the afternoon. You’ll find them just as detoxifying for your mind as they are for your body.
A nutritionist is also on hand to provide a full clinical nutrition assessment at the beginning of your stay (the Nutrition principle), which is factored into the clinic’s CLP Detox anti-inflammatory meal plan for all your meals. In fact, there’s even a nutritionist on-hand to guide you during the buffet breakfast. Lunch and dinner are served at the same time each day (12noon and 7pm) so it’s very easy to adjust to your new routine, even if you are there on your own, and there’s still plenty of time to rest and recharge in your room when you want to, as well. Thus, while the programme doesn’t promise to help you lose significant weight in just five days (which would be unrealistic), it does allow you to recharge, eliminate toxins and boost your energy, while giving you all the tools and data to build a healthier lifestyle going forward. That’s also helped by the gifts you’ll take away with you, including the clinic’s signature Holistic Health Purity supplements to help you continue your detox journey at-home.
It’s a testament to the extraordinary strength of the spa at Clinique la Prairie that you could probably take away the longevity programmes and you’d still have an incredibly luxurious wellbeing experience on your hands. Indeed, it could probably rival many traditional hotel spas.
Accessed up a flight of stairs, you emerge first to the large and enticing swimming pool, with the best of the hotel’s Swiss mountain backdrop in full view – perfect for a truly memorable morning swim. As well as several loungers, there’s a delicately lit relaxation room to help you unwind during your free time, plus a jacuzzi to really help your stresses melt away. As this is Switzerland (a purveyor of ‘hot-cold therapy’ for rejuvenation), you won’t be disappointed with the facilities either. There’s a starry-sky-lit communal space next to the pool that offers a sauna, hammam, ice shower, and unique hot-cold stones walking experience, plus an additional steam room and sauna in each of the fully stocked male and female dressing rooms should you prefer. As for the treatments themselves, you’ll start your treatment journey in the gleaming-white waiting room, sipping a warm green tea, before being led to one of the many private treatment rooms. From there, you’ll quickly be very glad that so many treatments are included in your programme.
During your five day stay, you’ll experience no less than six spa treatments. There’s the detoxifying facial that aims to decongest and depuff your skin using gentle and nourishing ingredients, so your skin looks glowing, not sore; a body scrub and wrap that lasts an indulgent hour and half, which not only leaves your skin incredibly soft, but can help with water weight and lymphatic drainage; and no fewer than three detox signature massages. These include osteopathic techniques to help with spine and hip alignment, plus Thai and Swedish massage techniques to deeply focus on areas of tension and get rid of toxins within your body.
Always at the heart of innovation, Clinique La Prairie is also home to a cryotherapy machine that sees you challenged to last 3 minutes in freezing temperatures, to improve blood flow and injury recovery, plus, an innovative infratherapy dome experience. The latter is basically the most relaxing nap you’ll ever had. You lay on a cosy treatment bed for 45 minutes with up to your chin covered by a doomed infra-red device that warms and clears your body of toxins, all while you just lay back and relax. After all of the treatments, one thing is for sure – you might be thoroughly detoxing your body and resetting your intentions for the months ahead, but you’ll be having a really enjoyable time doing it.
Often the biggest source of apprehension when attending a detox retreat for the first time is the food, and with good reason. It’s hard not to imagine constant hunger pains after nibbling only a handful of nuts and vegetables all day. Luckily, Clinique La Prairie’s Detox Reset is nothing like that at all. In fact, at first glance, there’s not much to separate the retreat from your previous fine dining experiences. You have your personally assigned table for during your stay, extremely friendly staff to explain the food to you, but, most importantly of all, you still get to enjoy a full three meals a day. In fact, your lunch and dinner is a full three-course meal affair, with an afternoon snack and tea infusions included too.
That’s because the detox part of the meal planning is so cleverly done – delivering hearty, flavoursome food, which still adheres to the clinic’s signature anti-inflammatory meal plan. Designed to prevent cellular ageing, improve your immune system and increase your energy, the food on the detox plan is all gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy-free, with dinner a fully vegan affair – but trust us, it’s totally delicious. There are detox juices and oxygen water to start your meal to prep your liver and kidneys, hearty vegetable soups to keep you full, and beautifully constructed creations of leafy greens, plant-based proteins, fermented veg and nutrient-rich seeds and spices to ensure you are never bored or need to repeat a meal. Then, there’s the daily detox herbal infusions that you have as drops in your tea twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon – it feels weird at first, but it’s surprising how quickly that tea-time ritual becomes a self-care boosting routine. To avoid any confusion, all this will be explained by your nutritionist when you arrive, and you’ll actually feel inspired to continue eating and trying an anti-inflammatory diet when you return home – rather than just daydreaming of pasta all day long.
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The deep sense of relaxation and comfort that sets a detox retreat at Clinique La Prairie apart doesn’t just happen in the spa or during your treatment sessions – it starts from the moment you walk into your room. With only 49 rooms in total, each suite feels like a private oasis, where you can get cosy and enjoy your daily detox afternoon herbal tea infusions (in your fluffy dressing gown of course), and fall quickly into a peaceful slumber, cocooned in a soft and warm bed.
Whether you choose to stay in the original Residence building that has all the charm of traditional Swiss architecture or the Chateau rooms within the main building, every space is filled with plush furnishings and charming little details such as golf leaf trims or blue and green-tones inspired by Lake Geneva. Expect high-end amenities too so that even getting ready doesn’t feel like a chore, including Dyson hairdryers, rain-fall showers and jacuzzi bath tubs. However, for a truly luxurious experience worthy of the many celebrities who have retreated at Clinique La Prairie before you, treat yourself to one of the Medical Center suites on the clinic’s top floor. Here you can retreat in total privacy, with large sitting rooms, balconies and even a private lift to take you to all your activities unseen.
THE PREP LIST
Before you begin your stay at Clinique La Prairie, a word of advice (from us and the hotel). If you adore multiple cups of coffee a day or tend to have quite a sugary, snack-based diet, you may want to start cutting back on those kinds of treats in the days leading to your retreat. It’s the best way to avoid headaches and 3pm cravings, which can quite commonly happen, depending on the nutritional plan you are following. It’s nothing that a quick float in the pool or snuggle down in your cosy bed won’t fix, but it will ensure you enjoy every minute of your stay, and get even more out of it.
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