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Discover Sylt: Germany’s answer to the Hamptons

 (ES Magazine)
(ES Magazine)

It the most northern tip of Germany lies Sylt, the country’s answer to the Hamptons. With its quaint thatched cottages and wood-clad designer stores, this 40-mile stretch of island transforms in the summer months — its sinuous roads swarming with blackedout SUVs — with the arrival of those desperate to escape the city heat. It makes a natural playground for the rich. And the ultimate boon for the wealthy? Good health.

The Lanserhof already had a stellar reputation long before it opened its latest outpost here last year. With a constellation of medical clinics in and around Germany and Austria, the foundations of its famous ‘Cure’ have long been rooted in the Mayr Method, looking at the health of the gut and digestive system and giving it an almighty reset.

Arriving at the clinic wasn’t as straightforward in January (direct flights are usually reserved for summer, so it was a flight to Hamburg followed by a charming, if slightly chilly, three-hour train ride to the island’s main station, Westerland). No matter: it gave me ample time to swot up on exactly how the ‘Cure’ actually works before checking in.

 (ES Magazine)
(ES Magazine)

In layman’s terms this was done in two ways. Before breakfast each day, I’d down a salt-based solution intended to flush out any toxins or undigested matter from the body. It felt like swallowing a mouthful of seawater — not entirely pleasant but highly effective.

The second prong of the approach was the food. The idea behind each person’s hyper individual programme is that thenutrition supports this rebalancing of your gut. Friends and colleagues warned me before arriving that I’d be on a broth-based diet and that the blinding hunger pangs would be the most brutal part of my stay.

Readers: they were so wrong. As someone fastidiously against punitive diets and deprivation, I was clear with the doctors that an exclusively liquid approach was not for me. ‘Yes, that doesn’t sound like it would make you feel very happy,’ my consultant Perpetua kindly smiled in my initial consultation.

 (ES Magazine)
(ES Magazine)

Which was why I was surprised (and secretly delighted) that I’d be enjoying the Cure 2.0 all week. Breakfast was porridge, along with a slice or two of spelt toast topped with avocado. Lunch was even better, alternating between grilled chicken breast and potatoes, or plates of dazzling grilled veg or soup. Yes, the broth did make a daily appearance at dinner, but worked in harmony with the other meals so I went to bed feeling sated rather than bloated.

Other key Mayr principles are encouraged: chew food 40 times, eat slowly and mindfully, opt for warm, cooked veg rather than raw fruit/salad/protein, don’t drink water immediately before or during your meal as it derails your digestion. The list goes on (and is well documented online). What impressed me about the Lanserhof in Sylt was how it married the Mayr Method with modern diagnostics and complementary remedies, from hypnotherapy to shiatsu.

 (ES Magazine)
(ES Magazine)

There’s a curious pleasure in knowing the exact muscle mass of each of your limbs, the water content of your body or precisely where you hold the most fat. I felt relieved knowing that unlike my very Indian parents, I was not pre-diabetic and hadn’t savaged my liver from years of hitting it a bit too hard.

Was the stay life-changing? More lifeadjusting — a glass-half-full look at what a modern wellness retreat can be.

£8,400 for the seven-night Lanserhof Sylt Cure Classic (Lanserhof.com)