Most people think I’m crazy to spend my vacation in a place that focuses on detoxification, with no alcohol, gluten, sugar, dairy, or caffeine. But Viva Mayr Altaussee couldn’t be a more perfect respite for my system.
The sister spa to the original Viva Mayr (which is located in Maria Worth) opened earlier this year in a picture-perfect gingerbread village on the banks of Lake Altaussee in Austria. Focusing on "the cure," Altaussee goal is detoxification (every morning starts with drinking epsom salts) to bring you back to ideal condition, prevent chronic illnesses, and promote a more healthful life. Yes, meals are minimal, but when you're advised to chew 40 times and eat slowly, you’d be surprised by how full you become.
Upon arrival, each guest meets with a physician. I was encouraged to relax and turn off my electronics; not the easiest thing for me. Part of my therapy included two unusual treatments: aerial yoga and Watsu. Coming from L.A., I’m well-versed in everything downward dog, but Viva’s aerial yoga is distinct. Suspended in a silk hammock, the teacher guides you through a series of yoga poses while suspended in air. The feeling is complete weightlessness, which allows a level of symbiosis between mind and body that I’ve never attained in standard yoga. Watsu also deals with weightlessness—this time, in water—and requires a fair amount of trust. Performed in a shallow pool, it combines shiatsu, joint mobilization, and stretching—all while being supported by a trainer, who guides you through the session as you float about the pool. Many people have compared it to a rebirthing experience; for me, it was one hour of unadulterated, deep relaxation. So urban dwellers used to fast-paced, non-stop activity and a quick fix, beware: Viva Mayr Altaussee is just the opposite; a place to take stock, reboot, and go to bed early. Your body (and mind) will love you for it.
Prices range from $3,500 and up. based on treatments and accommodations. Fischerndorf 222; 43-36/227-1450; vivamayr.com.
Photo Credit: Alex Gretter