If you've piled on the pounds over Christmas and the New Year, a weekend weight-loss spa or boot camp could shift them. Carole Edrich picks the best, from the super-medical to the super-luxury
Stay in stylish but simple luxury with stunning views of the Austrian Tirol and take a Modern Mayr cure. The original Mayr diet, devised by German biologist Ernst Mayr, was just soup, based on the idea that we should make it as easy as possible for our stomachs to digest food. It has developed into something more sophisticated and the Parkhotel Igls leads in the practice.
You’ll have consultations with the resident doctor, superb massages, Kneipp circuit water treatment, one-on-one fitness sessions, holistic beauty treatments and more. When to eat and drink is set out and, while the diet is quite strict, the food is superb with an excellent spread of options.
I started with something called a bio impedance measurement, which looks at the strength and speed of electrical signals through the body. I was reassured by my doctor’s emphasis on health improvement, and he was clear that it was inch loss rather than weight loss that mattered (muscle is heavier than fat).
I lost two centimetres from my waist in five days, wasn’t hungry, and regained a sense of lightness and wellbeing. I am determined to go back: if five days did me this much good I can’t wait to find out how I’d benefit from the full three weeks they recommend.
Facilities: gym, fitness room, pool, full medical facilities including 24-hour doctor, sports and medical masseurs, bio impedance measurement and pretty much anything else, with the local university on call for supplementary assistance, Nordic walking and many other exercise options.
Location: Igls, Innsbruck, Austria.
Cost: A minimum one-week stay is recommended, for which the basic programme is €870 (£572) up to a Modern Mayr medical check for €3,508. A summer short stay is EU €771. All of these are exclusive of accommodation which ranges from €146 per night to €1,130 a night. Park Hotel
Not far from Malaga, in southern Spain, La Cala Resort is in a secluded mountain top location with its own mild micro-climate. There is a good range of healthy food on the menu and you can burn the calories on the three stunning 18-hole championship golf courses, two swimming pools or the tennis court.
The ascent from coastal town of La Cala to the resort is very steep and quite long. I really enjoyed the challenge and as well as burning calories, my fitness levels improved no end, as I struggled up the hill each day on a local hire bike. The biggest test is at meal times: the hotel food is great so sticking to a self-imposed regime can be hard.
Facilities: Thermal Suite which includes the aromatic Turkish Hamman, indoor and outdoor therapy pools and Kneipp footbaths, a host of alternative treatments (I particularly liked the hot stone treatment) and beauticians.
Location: La Cala is in Mijas on the coastal mountains of Andalusia.
Cost: €170 per room per night, which includes breakfast, fitness room and thermal circuit. Treatments from €30. Lacala
They guarantee weight loss of at least 6lb in a week’s stay here, but it’s more about the inch loss, which, if you’re willing to put in the effort, is huge. I lost 5cm in five days.
Expect to start your workouts before breakfast and be so tired that you’re not up for much in the evening.
The trainers are exceptionally well qualified (as you’d expect from those who have trained the military elite), friendly (even when they’re getting you to exercise this hard), very well informed and will help everyone work around their challenges which makes the boot camp open to all sizes, shapes and abilities.
The theory behind each of the different exercise forms is given so that you can choose which is best for you on your return to the real world. You are also taught about food and nutrition so that you can incorporate the changes into your life back home.
This isn’t just a fat camp; our group had a super fit female boxer, two men with superbly honed gym bodies and others of all ages and sizes, and people bond quickly. Many come back regularly for a fitness top-up after their first big weight loss, confidence boost and lifestyle change.
Facilities: pool, converted stables and lovely gardens, reflexology, Swedish massage, aromatherapy massage, sports massage and reiki.
Location: just off the coastal road in Andalusia and closer to Gibraltar than Malaga.
Cost: five-day boot camps are £525 to £725 and the week-long bootcamp ranges from £683 to £1850. All treatments are £65 each. New You Boot Camp
The ex-military trainers of Prestige Boot Camp’s military style bootcamp in London’s Hyde Park knew what they were doing and worked to a pre-planned schedule of military type activities and physical competitions.
The exercise was hard core but fun and I met an interesting mix of people, but it was cold and therefore difficult to stay warm enough to avoid injury.
At the same time as the boot camp, I had a fresh detox diet plan delivered from mydetoxdiet.co.uk. Consisting of three hot meals and two smoothies a day, it tasted so good I forgot it was vegan and diet food.
It wasn’t just the fresh (really fresh) food that was impressive, the company has a great ethical approach. It’s best to talk them if you are planning sustained exercise, so they can to be sure their diets provide enough of the protein you would need.
I stayed on the diet for the four scheduled days, but wimped out of the second boot camp day because my old trainers had worn a hole in my foot – but I did lose 0.3cm from my waist.
Facilities: as a Londoner, the advantage was that I could go home and do my own thing while not training, but don’t be put off. Out-of-towners also attended; one girl from France and another couple had with much foresight had rented an apartment with sauna and Jacuzzi for the weekend.
Location: Home and Hyde Park. The mydetoxdiet.co.uk documentation recommends somewhere in Greenwich. Prestige also runs fitness and weight loss retreats in Suffolk, Devon and Marbella.
Cost: £79 for a one-day Hyde Park boot camp, or £150 for a weekend, £599 for four days in Devon, £1099 for seven days in Spain £1099. Mydetoxdiet prices range from £136 for the four-day weight loss plan to £165 for the five-day slimming plan. Prestige Bootcamp
Cavas wine lodge in Mendoza, Argentina, has an outdoor medina-style spa created by architect Pondal Malenchini. It is beautifully designed with holes in the wall to soften the bright desert sun, a fountain in the spa’s centre and the sound of water running from open-mouthed frogs to counter the aridity of the air.
Therapies include a variety of lush wine-based treatments including a crushed Malbec scrub, Bonarda (red wine) baths for circulation and a moisturising Torrontés wine wrap.
If you’re into more conventional treatments, the four-handed massage is fun and their luxurious Olivotherapy product range (developed from the olive oil beauty approaches used by ancient Greeks and Romans) are available in the rooms, located a short walk from the spa in the hotel’s vineyards.
All rooms have views of wonderful vineyards, Mount Aconcagua (the largest Andean mountains) and the Andean spine.
The spa has a certified nutrition counsellor who will plan your diet with you, and you can burn calories by touring other wineries, cycling, walking, horse riding and canoeing. All Cavas therapists are fully qualified.
Facilities: spa, each room has a roof on which a special butler service can provide private dining or barbecues and they’re planning a yoga retreat.
Location: Mendoza, Argentina.
Cost: A full three-night program (inclusive of activities, treatments, driver, meals, room) is US$3790 (£2494) plus tax for two people. Seven nights are US$ 7,895 plus tax. Special discounted rates between June and September with room and breakfast at US$390 plus tax. Cavas Wine Lodge
Nestled in the midst of nature, this luxury location is surrounded by the Sierra de las Nieves Nature Park in southern Spain, but within easy reach of central Marbella.
The emphasis is on safe and healthy weight loss rather than drastic drops (although heavier, younger people will inevitably lose more) and ingredients are fresh, healthy and wherever possible locally-sourced. The retreat’s philosophy is reinforced with an emphasis on learning; the benefits of a more balanced lifestyle, personal reflection and development are all encouraged.
Facilities: spa and pool.
Location: Sierra de las Nieves Nature Park, Andalusia.
Cost: three nights turbo detox €590 (£455) five nights weight loss retreat €1,810 based on two sharing. Treatments range from €40 to €120. Shanti Som
Schloss Pichlarn Spa and Golf Resort is in a valley surrounded by beautiful green hills at the foot of Grimming Mountain. Focused on the person as a whole (mind, body and spirit) you can lose inches by taking part in the activities and sports (exercising at altitude burns more calories) as well as through the optional Ayurvedic programme.
Detoxification and regeneration treatments including panchakarma (a detox programme that includes massage and herbal therapies) are also designed to help prevent illness, enhance short-term wellbeing and re-establish your spiritual balance.
Facilities: golf, pool, gym, tennis courts, Nordic walking and a range of other options.
Location: the Styrian Ennstal valley, Austria.
Cost: Wellbeing Escapes offers a variety of packages from the two-night wellbeing booster for £545 to the Aurveda Holiday at £730. Pichlarn
Audley Binswood Hall, formerly the North Leamington College, is a beautifully restored Grade II*-listed Victorian gothic building and centrepiece of a 90-apartment retirement village. Don’t let the ‘retirement’ part put you off: this is a beautiful building with luxury facilities, and non-residents of all ages are members of the health club.
It is in pleasant surroundings and a lovely place to learn weight loss techniques from fitness expert Jack Brown.
He believes in targeting stubborn fat receptors, speeding the metabolism, building and toning muscle and is keen to emphasise this doesn’t turn us into bodybuilders. he says that targeting the gluteal muscles helps to kickstart our metabolism and reduces our hormonal age.
Facilities: luxury health and wellbeing centre, swimming pool, library, restaurant and bar/bistro with treatment rooms, beauticians and qualified therapists.
Location: Audley, in the heart of the Royal Leamington Spa conservation area.
Cost: varies according to time of year, from £500. Audley Retirement: Binswood Hall Retirement Village
Visit this converted 17th-century thatched farmhouse in Dorset for an informal and holistic environment. Custom-designed tailored retreats include vegetarian, raw food and detox options.
The holistic approach means that each person is treated as a unique individual, so a schedule of specific treatments is carefully considered in consultation between you and one of the therapists shortly after arrival.
Facilities: a wide range of health and beauty treatments including hot stone therapy massage, Indian head massage, organic facials, reiki, and reflexology.
Location: Sherborne, Dorset.
Cost: from £250. Wellbeing Escapes