Spa Guide 2018 Winner
Most progressive clinic
In the glass-walled spa café, a glamorous elderly woman – multiple rings, beautifully made-up – is reminiscing about the good old days at Clinique La Prairie. ‘Everyone used to come just for the famous rejuvenation treatment. The clinic gave it by injection then. A doctor would administer it all while we played bridge. It was marvellous. You didn’t even have to put your cards down!’ she says.
Things here have changed. A lot. As might be expected, given the clinic has been going since 1931. That was when Professor Paul Niehans devised his famous anti-ageing Revitalisation cell therapy, based on the regenerative capabilities of foetal lamb-liver extracts. The clinic still offers this dauntingly expensive treatment – about £18,000 on top of the one-week package – and keeps a flock of black sheep for the purpose. Half of Hollywood, heads of state and the worried wealthy have rolled up over the decades for this, and thanks to the huge profits the process has generated, La Prairie has become vastly more comprehensive.
Revitalisation – now given orally – genuinely boosts the immune system (as medical studies have proven). And as Clinique La Prairie’s reputation of being the real deal has spread, the clinic has expanded its medical and dental programme to treat diabetes, infertility, osteoporosis and sciatica. It has also set up a traditional-massage and beauty-oriented programme, using the Swiss Perfection range it produced after selling off its La Prairie skincare line. The 50-plus fleet of specialist doctors now staff the tall glass building flanking one side of the 19th-century Montreux villa where Professor Niehans started out.
On the other side, half built into the hillside garden, is the spa, pool, restaurant and 37 rooms, many with terraces looking out over Lake Geneva. These days the atmosphere is a hushed one. In this immaculately white world, it is rare to see more than a scattering of other guests beyond mealtimes. The ambience is deeply private, soothing, cosseting and above all reassuring. Reassuring because everything is so thoroughly investigated (DNA tests, in-depth blood tests, body-composition tests, heavy-metals tests) that whatever the ailment, you know you’re going to get sensible, effective treatment and easy-to-implement advice. Swiss excellence is never inexpensive. But among those who can afford a stay here, few regret the investment.