An Alpine retreat that takes ‘kur’ of your New Year’s resolutions
PUBLISHED: 12:00 13 January 2017 | UPDATED: 14:35 13 January 2017
The core of the Parkhotel regime is the seven day programme, with three medical assessments, daily treatments, a diet plan, use of swimming pool, sauna and panoramic gym
New Year resolution? Ah, that old chestnut. Here today, gone tomorrow on the back of random greed and abandoned gym subscriptions. What you may not realise is how old hat that chestnut actually is.
In the age of mindfulness, the true path is out there: combine self help with self indulgence on holiday and you’ll rejoin the real world on a surge of energy and optimism.
30 years ago, a hotel spa was a five star treat. Today, the humblest hostlery has a sauna, a hot tub and a stationary cycle in the basement. Not tempted? Maybe meditative contortions on a yoga treadmill? Ouch! How about a luxury cocoon with no alcohol licence? Hang on a minute before you write it off. Getting lighter, healthier and fitter is never a quick fix: you have to make a habit of it. Many Europeans take an annual week’s kur (cure), then incorporate what they’ve learned into their daily lives. Provided they have the will power.
Which is how I come to check into the Parkhotel in Igls, an Alpine village above Innsbruck. The place is sparkling white, inside and out, with spacious rooms and suites overlooking splendid mountains. It is dedicated to detox as prescribed by Franz Xaver Mayr, an early 20th century Austrian proselytiser whose doctrines sprung from his belief that “the gut is the root system of the human body”.
A century later, Dr. Peter Gartner has taken up the baton at the Parkhotel, now celebrating nearly 25 years of Mayr-business. “Not obese”, he pronounces with a wide smile as he measures height, weight and bmi (body mass index) during my first check up. As obesity begins at 30, 29.4 is a close call so I’m not surprised to find myself on a level four food combining diet when I join my fellow patients in the dining room.
As zero is fasting and seven the highest, this may sound relatively generous but my pumpkin soup is served in a tiny china bowl. The designated spoon is so shallow that supping it without a forbidden lift and slurp takes about ten minutes, as is right because the first lesson according to Mayr is super slow. When two crackers and a dab of trout paste arrive, I obediently chew them to pulp before swallowing, readily persuaded that the gut likes this pre-digestive technique because it leaves it with less work to do.
As this phantom feast must be consumed by 7pm, it’s a long time till breakfast. Not that there’s any compulsion: the Parkhotel doors are open, the Spar is 50m down the road, its bars a pleasant evening stroll, the decoratively historic town of Innsbruck a 10 minute drive.
After exploring the local park, I virtuously pick a glass from a row labelled ‘bitterwasser’ and watch television in my room. Most guests are German, Swiss or Austrian but growing British interest in recent years is reflected in a variety of English-language channels.
The bitterwasser, diluted with hot water and drunk half an hour before breakfast as instructed, is a cataclysmic purgative from the Epsom Salts school. Anticipate a couple of hours of speedy exits as it rampages cleansingly through the guts.
For most, the morning is a time for pampering, but don’t book the Terra-vit full body wrap, a treatment that requires incarceration in wet bandages from foot to shoulder for an hour and a half, until the salts have had time to accomplish detoxification via liver and gall bladder. A body massage is a much safer starting point: therapists and masseurs are accustomed to pauses for urgent need so you just have to ask.
The core of the Parkhotel regime is the seven day programme, with three medical assessments, daily Kneipp treatments (body part baths at contrasting temperatures), a diet plan, use of swimming pool, sauna and panoramic gym, plus a wide selection of group activities and lectures (with simultaneous English translation).
In a single day, I had the choice of aqua aerobics, Nordic walking, gymnastics for the feet and skills training – tips on how to increase my desire for self improvement. With my passion for golf, I picked Pre Shot, instruction that might result in a proper swing – something I’ve never managed to achieve. This is taught with enthusiasm and dedication by Hanna Gartner, Dr Peter’s second cousin, on the chipping and putting green next to the chef’s herb and vegetable gardens.
The Parkhotel has add on packages with targeted male and female health checks or the comprehensive Modern Mayr Medical Check, with blood tests, echocardiology and ultrasound. Individual services range from physical therapies and pampering treatments to diagnostic heart and cancer screening.
They also offer seasonal speciality breaks for golf, yoga or detox and mental coaching. In winter, downhill and cross country skiing are easy to arrange. For an extra charge you can take an Innsbruck city tour, visit the Riedel crystal factory, the Tyrolean State Theatre (where Oliver! was playing) or take a cookery course.
Book whatever takes your fancy – but don’t miss lunch, it’s the main meal of the day, a showcase for the considerable talents of Markus Sorg, the 31-year-old head chef who learned his trade during his teens as an apprentice in his grandmother’s Tyrolean restaurant in Innsbruck. His take on food combining may mean rare sliced duck breast or grilled char accompanied by assorted vegetables. The results are mouthwatering, but portions disappoint. Gratifyingly, my final medical check revealed a weight loss of 2.1 kilos. So lucky I’d never dared ask for more.
Parkhotel Igls (+43 512 377 305; parkhotel-igls.at) has 51 rooms and suites with balcony Alpine views: Basic Programme, one week £800, second week £705, Mayr De-Stress, one week £1540, second week £1450 (packages include lunch/dinner).
Minty Clinch stayed on the Girls Only Golf package available from April to October. The price is from €759 for a 2-night break, (Fri-Sun) and includes 2 nights in a superior single room, 1 green fee, a full body massage and a treatment of choice participation in exercise and relaxation classes, daily Kneipp treatments, personalised Modern Mayr cuisine diet plan, mineral waters, herbal teas and base broths.