That’s the best way to describe your first glance of Viva Mayr, the fabulous medical spa located in the Carinthian Alps of Southern Austria.

Needless to say, once you’ve arrived, you won’t want to leave…well, once you get through the first three days at this renowned detox mecca. Make no mistake, this is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful, idyllic places on earth, resting of the banks of Lake Worthersee; but the regime and standards of Dr. Harald Stossier and team are grueling. Fortunately, even those without much willpower can make it through the rigorous throes of minimal food, morning epsom salt intake (yes, you can drink it!), the occasional colonic, infusions, and daily visits to the doctor for stomach massages.

The theory behind Viva Mayr stems from the Dr Franz Mayr, who felt that everything chronically wrong with us stems from our gut – i.e., you are what you eat. The mainstay of Dr. Stossier and crew is chew, chew, chew. Patients/guests are advised to chew 30-40 times, as well as eat slowly. Dinner is to be taken early, (it is only served between 6-7pm nightly) and no liquids shall pass your lips during the meal. (That would be water, btw, not wine, as there is no liquor on the premises – remember, this is cleansing time, not happy hour).

Everything is tailored to the patient’s needs, including any allergies or issues upon meeting with your designated physician for your stay. But in the simplest of terms, the general rules are as follows when it comes to the food:

*No gluten
*No dairy
*No caffeine
*No sugar
*No alcohol

(Beet root wontons for lunch)

Many, upon reading this, would also say ‘no fun’ but that is not the case. Viva Mayr is all about cleaning you out and in essence, starting over. Not just from a physical point of view, but from an emotional and attitudinal one. Supposedly it takes 21 days to form a new habit, and that’s the exact length of time that the clinic would like their patients to visit. But most of us can’t do that, so in most cases, a week is a good amount to get a nice jump start.  Viva may seem on the outside like it’s not that enticing with all its restrictions, but you’ll welcome the changes once you start to see the difference.

Here are a few reasons why you should consider Viva Mayr for your next big break – who knows, you could find yourself sitting next to the likes of Rita Ora, artist Tracey Emin, or Mrs. Vladimir Putin (all regulars).


(A pool with a view)

Part of Viva’s infinite charm is the location. Lake Worthersee, is a stunning Alpine lake, and supposedly the water is so fresh, you can drink it. Viva Mayr has it’s own private portion of the lake, ensconced between two piers. While at Viva, one is encouraged to go out and explore the lake and its environs, on the clinic’s multitude of bikes, on foot or by car. Just try not to bring your wallet – riding a bike around the lake you’ll pass by towns like Velden and Klagenfurt – homes to the smells of many a fine Austrian pastry. As mentioned before, it’s not the easiest locale to get to – but well worth it once you step off the plane and see the beauty of the area.

Massages, foot baths, and body scrubs. Sure, this sounds like your typical spa experience, but at Viva Mayr it’s taken to a whole new level, because while every treatment feels like pure luxury, each one has a purpose, whether it be detoxification, cleansing, purging, etc. On the massage front, our favorite hands down is Vissia. Massages are an important part of the treatment as they provide therapy for a myriad of organs and increase stimulation. Like all the therapists on staff, Vissia offers detox, reflexology, and Swedish techniques, but her specialty is lymphatic – a gentle massage that stimulates circulation and helps with water retention.

(Massage therapist Vissia in her native habitat.)

Another great relaxation treatment and fat burner is the Vino Forming Treatment. A combination of scrub and subsequent lotion application, it is a practice known as vinotherapy. A scrub that contains Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (a red wine produced in Italy) leaves your skin feeling silky baby soft. Rich in antioxidants, the treatment will nourish the skin and fight the signs of aging that we’re all up against these days.

Viva Mayr is a place of purpose; a destination for those who want to cure their ills, take a break, lose a few pounds, or maybe, just get away from the outside world. The staff at Viva ensures that whatever your situation, you are looked after, or, if you want, just left alone. They are never intrusive, exceedingly helpful, and not to mention, kind. They’re the sort who become like family to those who return to Viva year after year. Truth be told, many on staff have been here for years – a testament to the great work environment and ethics set forth by Dr. Stossier and his executive team.


Viva’s indoor infinity pool is the stuff that dreams are made of. Or contingent on the length of your stay, the new hot bod you could develop swimming laps on a daily basis in here.


(A view from Viva at night of Lake Worthersee)

Renowned composer Gustav Mahler created some of his most famous works from his lakeside home on the banks of Lake Worthersee (you can also check out his small composition cabin in the forest nearby).

With views like this, it’s no wonder he was inspired.

Viva Mayr, Seepromenade 11, 9082 Maria Wörth, Austria
Phone:+43 4273 311170
(Please note that the clinic has moved temporarily to the other side of the lake due to renovations. A new and improved Viva will open in 2015).

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