Spa Junkie at… the Mayr Clinic

Stale bread and sheep’s yoghurt? Our incognito columnist hopes that the Mayr’s strict regime is worth it

Image: Jay Yeo

Spa Junkie is undergoing a six-day detox at the Mayr & More clinic in Austria.


With the weather being as marvellous as it is, good lakeside positioning is in high demand; there’s a sudden battle among us for deckchairs, so I decide to head down at 7am and stake out my place. A stack of books, towels and all the necessary tanning paraphernalia secure the best position for my languid sunning and reading session later. Several piles of goods already grace the chairs; clearly I’m not the only one with this idea.

This morning swim I can only describe as a near-perfect start to my day. Breakfast is less blissful, though; my single egg has been taken off the menu card and replaced with stale bread and sheep’s yoghurt. I take all my meals alone, so there is nobody to moan to (which is probably why we eat in solitude). On the bright side, it’s easier to chew stale bread 40 times; otherwise, it’s like feeding peas to kids – it just doesn’t want to go down.

“At Mayr, we believe meal times need to be about celebrating your food – truly taking time to understand what you are eating, and how the ingredients will nurture your body,” Tanja explains later.

Without trivialising the methodology, which works, it seems like common sense. Most of us eat too fast, too much and too late at night, leaving our bodies full of indigestible food. So chew it slowly, and don’t swallow it down with a lot of liquid. It’s the basic advice your grandma gave. “Create a relationship with what you eat,” Tanja concludes. Does that mean I can start up a friendship with the dry rice crackers at lunch, I’m tempted to ask, but keep mum.

In the afternoon, Tanja does her daily stomach massage, along with a series of food intolerance tests and some additional allergy tests. Then I’m sent to the Infusion Room for a mixture of vitamin and protein concoctions. It’s a tiny corner room with old and cracking brown leather sofas, three of them tuned to face each other in a U-shape – sort of your granddad’s La-Z-boy recliner meets a cheap-and-cheerful Thai mani-pedi parlour. Two guests across from me are having their blood oxygenated; tubes attached to the veins in their arms and bags of blood hanging over their heads. My stomach churns a bit at the sight. I look away and focus on my book while my own vein is pierced and a bag of “liquid lunch” pumped into my body. When I leave, I can taste the vitamins in the back of my throat, like the packets of sparkle and crackle dust you had at school.

In the afternoon I have a very good Pilates class, and end the day with an Organic Pharmacy facial, which was very attentive, and the therapist proficient.


For dinner it’s the same thick and boring potato soup. At least I get two portions, as my hunger pangs now prevent me from sleeping.


Down by the lake at 8am for my swim. The battle for prime real estate is now reaching new heights of competitiveness.

There is no doubt I have slimmed down considerably in just a few days. Not a surprise, though: I have never been so hungry at any spa before. But having gone entirely without a green vegetable or a piece of fruit, I joke to the “house frau” at breakfast that I’m a borderline scurvy case. She is not amused. And obviously feels the need to go and tattle, as my comment clearly gets back to Tanja, who later explains earnestly that Mayr doesn’t recommend fruit – it ferments in your stomach. They are also not big on raw vegetables after noon, as they are difficult for your system to digest.

Given that I more or less live on green vegetables, however, we reach a concession: I am to get vitamin infusions daily, and my soups will henceforth all be green-veggie based.

I’ve decided to test the Mayr services today. I do the Kniepping, which is a hot-and-cold-water treatment, then a detox bath, followed by a liver compress. This is all well executed, though it’s hard to say if it’s effective – I think you probably need to have several such treatments over a few days; but my time here is too short.

Then it’s back into the Infusion Room, where I’m having the blood infusion, whereby a pint of your own blood is withdrawn, oxygenated in a pure-oxygen machine, then pumped back into your body. I’m not sure I need it or feel better for it, but my curiosity about it is at least satisfied. All this takes up most of my day.

An early-evening run to one of the lower vantage points and a yoga practice in my room end the day.


Spa Junkie pays for all her own travel, accommodation and treatments.