It was delightful to stumble upon a jewel of a spa hotel that none of my friends know about. A hotel which nestles high up in the forested hills of southern Austria on the edge of the stunning Lake Weissensee, the highest bathing lake in the Alps, a hotel which offers not only a heavenly, luxurious, peaceful environment, but also a supremely healthy one. Ideally, I would prefer to keep it a secret, but that would not be fair to the lovely Bio-Vitalhotel Weissenseerhof.
On my plane from London to Salzburg, Austria, I chatted with the TV chef Nigella Lawson. She was off to the renowned VivaMayr clinic for a week, the place where the global elite go and spend a fortune to take the Mayr cure (a brutal regime of gut cleansing and fasting). The following week, Kate Moss was due to be there, too.
Everyone who is – or thinks they are – anyone, seems to head off there at some point, but I felt quite smug, for my destination was not only far more charming, but a great deal less expensive. I, too, have been to the VivaMayr, but I was now on my way to somewhere not so far away, with similar jaw-dropping scenery and level of luxurious accommodation, an option to do the Mayr cure each day if I so desired, or simply to eat wonderful healthy organic food, be pampered in an amazing ‘floating’ spa and indulge in fabulous organic Austrian wine – all at a fraction of the cost.
Everything in this family-run hotel is designed to please. The staff could not be more helpful and friendly overseen by the lovely Sabine Loy, and the chef is superlative. Florian Klinger devotes himself to organic, super-healthy yet gourmet cuisine using fresh produce from the hotel garden and divine cold-pressed oils that he makes himself. A certified dietary chef, he caters for every special nutritional requirement and has 30 years experience in developing the modern Mayr diet. He oversees the medically supervised fasting programs for guests following the modern F.X. Mayr cure and the alkaline fast, as well as producing sensational healthy menus for guests who want to follow a normal diet.
I compromised by devoting one day to the Mayr diet including a session with a Mayr trained doctor, which was no hardship at all, and the rest of the week eating my way through normal, varied, yet extremely healthy, menus. I should add here that serious wine lovers will adore the splendid wine cellar and vinoteca where you can taste and purchase over 600 wines from well-known wine growers around the world.
Days were spent sampling some of the huge number of treatments offered in the fabulous spa which is built right on and over the lake. Here, I had the finest massage I can honestly say I have ever had (thank you Thomas!) and dithered between medical wellness treatments like Lymph Drainage and Fasciae Therapy (for acute and chronic pain), indulgent beauty treatments and body and soul therapies like Reiki.
There is also a yoga studio, as well as several saunas and lovely sundeck areas from which you can slip into the clear lake on sunny days. Frankly, I never wanted to go off-site, but couldn’t resist a trip by gondola up the mountain one day to sample more traditional Austrian food (delicious) and a restorative walk down the mountain on easy trails.
Those with more energy can spend days hiking or mountain biking in the Weissensee Nature Park; in the winter the lake obligingly freezes over creating the largest natural ice surface in Europe and hours of fun for those who like skating – or falling over.
For me, the unique selling point of the Weissenseerhof is that you can have the most relaxing, pampering holiday there, eating like a king or following a proper, medically and nutritionally designed diet – or do a bit of both. If you want to self-cater, there are also delightful apartments for families. You really can’t go wrong.
Weissenseerhof Hotel, Neusach, Austria
Tel: +43 (0)4713 2219 402