Peak practice

    31 May 2014

    These days, people don’t simply go on holiday — they combine it with a trip to one of the increasingly popular medi-spas. These range from hotels which have adapted their premises to include a spa offering holistic therapies through to places that blur the lines between hospitals and hotels, offering medical and surgical procedures as well as the usual room service and infinity pool. There is now a dizzying array of places around the world offering a staggering number of treatments and therapies, from a facelift for your sagging jowls to aromatherapy to tackle insomnia. While in the past such spas have been very popular with those on the continent, more and more Britons are seeking to combine a mini-break with a health check. Each issue, we’ll anonymously review some of the best packages on offer.  

    The place

    Located on the shores of Lake Geneva, with breathtaking views, Clinique La Prairie has been providing medical and spa treatments since 1931. Former guests include Winston Churchill,

    Marlene Dietrich and PopePius XII. It has a well-established medical unit, staffed by world experts in everything from surgery and dentistry to cardiology and dermatology, meaning that this spa offers a unique and unrivalled level of expertise in almost every aspect of health. There is also a menopause and gynaecology unit. You can come here for a specific procedure, or simply a health MOT while having a bit of pampering. They offer in addition a number of (pricey) packages: weight management, beauty, medical check-up, better mobility, revitalisation, rebalancing and a sleep programme.

    The symptoms

    Having hit the grand old age of 60, this spa novice felt she needed more than just a makeover. Slightly overweight and with a string of failed diets behind her, she was galvanised into action when her GP noticed she had high cholesterol, high blood pressure and, to her horror, a brain scan showed that she had suffered a series of tiny strokes. Something needed to change — and quickly.

    The treatment

    A full medical check-up with consultant physicians. This included a heart scan, full range of blood, urine and stool tests, neurological investigations and analysis of her fitness level and body fat composition. They liaised with her GP in Britain, too. Daily gym and swimming sessions with a personal trainer were arranged by the doctors and throughout her stay this spa spy was given a personally tailored menu when she had meals in the clinic’s restaurant.

    The procedure

    Medical history and medication was reviewed in minute detail and she was seen each day by a doctor. She was referred to a dietitian who met her daily to monitor and advise, and provided meal plans to take home. Under medical guidance, a personal trainer went through a gentle, personalised exercise plan in the gym, ensuring she was confident enough to continue with it when she went home. An impressive selection of beauty treatments on offer in the spa meant that after all this, she could relax and unwind.

    The Verdict

    Incredible. Everything about the experience was personal and tailored to our guinea pig’s specific problems. The staff were kind and thoughtful and the medical team knowledgable and empathetic. Nothing was too much for them and there were times when our undercover sleuth thought she had died and gone to heaven. The doctors, however, insisted that with their help, this would be some time off. After a month back at home her blood pressure and high cholesterol were under control and the weight continued to drop off. Our spy has never felt healthier.

    The medical view

    Dr Max Pemberton: The small strokes that she suffered are surprisingly common, especially in people with high blood pressure and cholesterol. She was lucky to have caught this early and to have received guidance in managing and reducing her risk factors.

    The Details

    Clinique La Prairie, in Montreux (0041 21 9893311, offers packages such as a five-night check-up from £11,338 per person, and a six-night beauty package from £10,410 per person. Swiss Air ( flies from London City airport and Heathrow direct to Geneva and EasyJet ( offers routes from London Gatwick, Stansted and Luton. The clinic is an hour’s drive from Geneva airport.