Inside the Swiss clinic that promises to help you live longer

“Which would madam desire?” Elizabeth Taylor’s waiter asks her in the 1973 film Ash Wednesday. “Perrier, Vichy, Apollinaris or Crodo?” 

“Well,” deadpans Taylor, searching down mournfully at her food — liquor banned as portion of the miracle treatment in a Swiss clinic that will restore her youthful splendor — “whichever goes ideal with roast beef.” 

Outside of my very own neat small Swiss desk for a person, a trim green garden slopes down toward the lake, the gentle blue of which terminates in the Dents du Midi, dusted with snow, askance in the length.

In front of me is a research in exhaustion of all the fascinating points you can do — on a plate — with a carrot. No roast beef for me. Or meat. Or liquor. Or caffeine. Or gluten. Or dairy. And hardly any sugar. I have two eyeglasses of h2o. One particular has experienced further hydrogen ions added to it, which sounds like the libatory equal of zero moreover zero.

For a couple of times I am a visitor of the Clinique La Prairie, the clinical spa on Lake Geneva that in nine many years has proven an pretty much mythic position in the luxurious of dwelling for a longer period — and additional fantastically. Most sanatoria battle diseases. But when you are this wealthy, you struggle time itself.

A spa area at CLP, which sits towards a backdrop of the Dents du Midi

Some months in the past, in writing an write-up about one particular of the major frauds in Swiss background, I had snarkily talked about Clinique La Prairie in passing: an executive’s spouse had applied business resources to pay out for a stay ($250,000). Shortly immediately after publication, the clinic got in contact: most likely I would like to stop by?

In the initially occasion, I imagined certainly, mainly because, very well — voyeurism: the possibility to move all around just one of the most rarefied enclaves of the super-prosperous, incognito. Just 30 company stay at the clinic at any a person time.

Much more robustly, I was curious — and this I pitched to my editor — at how in the wake of a global pandemic, Switzerland’s historic palaces of health and fitness ended up faring, with sickness and mortality even now so raw in our cultural psyche.

And finally sure due to the fact of, remaining completely frank, personal vanity: I’m in my late thirties, and I scarcely have the persistence to remain in the tub for 5 minutes, allow by yourself on a massage desk or in a spa, but I am conceited enough to have started off fretting now about the results of time.

Clinique La Prairie (or CLP, but in no way La Prairie, because that is the trademark of the eponymous extremely-luxury skincare model that was bought off as a independent enterprise in 1982) is tucked into the outskirts of Montreux, at the japanese finish of Lake Geneva.

It comprises a mini-campus of properties established again from the lake shoreline, in a hinterland of upscale 1970s condominium buildings and belle époque villas, dotted with palm and mimosa, that are the vernacular of the Riviera vaudoise. A suburbia for millionaires.

There is the unique clinic — a prim building with mustard-yellow sunshine awnings that could move as a family pensione. There is the medical centre — a 1990s PoMo monstrosity of blue glass. There is the primary block of accommodation — the Château — a previous girls’ school. And there is the modern, gleaming spa and reception elaborate. The full outcome is manicured, but not grand.

The Résidence, the clinic’s most historic creating and initially dwelling to Dr Paul Niehans

The income right here goes on private consideration, not architectural theatrics. CLP’s team elevate blandishment to art, but then there are seven of them for every guest. I am right here for a “detox-reset”, the entry-amount procedure the clinic offers.

Taylor’s Ash Wednesday was not explicitly established in this article, but there is no doubt about the pedigree of the “cellular therapy” she receives — injections of foetal cells from unborn lambs. This is the paracelsian witchcraft that designed CLP’s name, pioneered by its founder Dr Paul Niehans in the early 20th century.

GM110211_23X TRAVEL MAP_Mountreux

The practically biblical queerness of the treatment was not missing on at minimum just one enthusiast: Pope Pius XII (whose wartime record may be most charitably described as not-infallible) was an early shopper. Whilst on a pilgrimage to Lourdes in the 1950s, the story goes, he secretly dispatched a papal nuncio to the clinic to fetch a pot of experience product.

A roll phone of other people consists of Charlie Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich, Somerset Maugham, Noël Coward, Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe, Winston Churchill, the Duke of Windsor, Konrad Adenauer, Bernard Baruch, Thomas Mann, Hedda Hopper and Charles de Gaulle.

My detox programme — in typical with CLP’s modern day strategy — is additional down to earth: a tightly controlled selection of food items, organic teas and waters, and, each and every day, a sample selection of physiotherapeutic solutions.

Shortly right after arriving I sit down for tea with CLP’s chief government, Simone Gibertoni. He took above the functioning of the clinic in 2016, appointed by the chair of the company, Gregor Mattli, son of proprietor Armin Mattli, with a brief to change it into a worldwide super-brand name.

Gibertoni, an Italian with a qualifications in consulting and cosmetics, is sharply dressed, swift to charm and knows his small business inside of out. Branding is his métier. Less than him, CLP has already opened mini-clinics in Madrid and Bangkok. Two a lot more clinics will open this 12 months: just one in Doha and a entire-scale “longevity resort” in China.

CLP’s modern spa and reception intricate © Tim Wagner

As perfectly as this, Gibertoni claims, CLP is searching to turn into a far more day-to-day portion of its clients’ lives — not just a wellness Shangri-la they escape to each individual two several years. An application, the promise of frequent remote consultations, and a variety of supplements — which you could possibly glibly consider of as the world’s most expensive vitamin tablets — will lengthen CLP’s business access. This is not just canny business, but also far more genuine healthcare.

“Despite all the funds remaining place into this in Silicon Valley, there is not going to be a magic molecule that stops ageing whenever before long,” claims Gibertoni. “Longevity is a journey.” And CLP, he claims, is the finest place in the globe to undertake it.

In modern many years, longevity has come to be the most significant buzzword in the $1.5tn worldwide wellness market. Seeking more youthful, or emotion more youthful is no longer enough. Now you will have to be younger.

In essence, this was the initial promise of Niehans’ mobile therapy, a long time forward of today’s vogue, generating CLP a trailblazer. Pretty what that counts for is up for discussion: the clinic’s web page promises Niehans obtained “spectacular” effects with his injections, however for my dollars, all you likely need to have to know is that he also claimed they could handle “homosexual and lesbian tendencies”. He was, in other words and phrases, a crank.

No matter, fashionable longevity science is a lot more cogent: ageing, it contends, is basically the breakdown of our cells’ capabilities to examine the ageless DNA “blueprint” they consist of. A 13-year research by Harvard experts released only final month observed this “epigenetic deterioration” to be the “primary driver of ageing in mammals”. 

Using a battery of remarkably complex biochemical checks — such as a comprehensive genomic blueprint in document time — CLP promises its present day shoppers it can detect and micro-focus on the certain components of their lifestyles that lead to this injury. On supply, in put of a miracle injection, is a bespoke health program: a personalised way of life alter, geared to slowing down age. My detox-reset was a taster of this.

Cryotherapy is among the the treatments on offer you © Carlo Mari

As I pad close to, gown-clad, from day to working day and procedure to remedy in an atmosphere of quiet, textureless luxury, even so, I usually find myself asking yourself exactly where the cosseting finishes and the science commences.

Some of the therapies I couldn’t assistance but be sceptical of: sitting in an infrared device resembling an iron lung for 45 minutes and possessing warm oil little by little dripped on to my brow (after a blitz in a cryo tank), were being equally deeply soporific, but I can not believe that they did a lot for my cells.

On the other hand, there have been sessions that highlighted apparent shortcomings in my life-style: the deep-tissue masseuse — a slight, elderly female of apparent talent and with a penchant for actual physical manipulation subtly brief of violence — struck a chord when she pointed out how unbelievably tense my muscle tissues were. Really how activated my lymphatic technique was right after two hours of muscular abuse, I did not know.

But that my hypervigilance and again troubles would complicate slumber, and mental wellbeing, as we mentioned at length, was enlightening and built me feel of long lasting modifications I required to make immediately after I still left. Even — heaven support me — yoga?

There was, I felt on reflection, totally a thing to be explained for the clinic’s holistic solution.

Clinic chef David Alessandria’s inventive recipes include . . . 
 . . . celery flower with eco-friendly sauce © Alex Pittet

Back to the carrot: was a carrot ever so mouth watering? I had expected the dietary strictures of my time at CLP to be the biggest bore. In actuality, they were being the reverse. Lunch and supper ended up 3-course meals that had been ingenious and delectable. (Evidently not everybody felt so. Midweek, two teens from a big prolonged family members turned up to lunch with two huge McDonald’s luggage.)

In complete reality, immediately after just 4 days, I experienced not felt healthier or fitter in months. I was sleeping deeply and nicely. And yet . . . 

The night before I remaining, I stayed up late in my place, trawling the web for article content on ageing and the issue of all this. There is a moral problem, of program, about possessing so substantially income that you can purchase solutions that will, in promise at least, acquire a class of humans nearer to becoming demigods. But even ahead of that, I assume, comes that hoary outdated cliché of whether or not a for a longer period daily life, or even a more lovely looking 1, is a better one particular.

None of us would like to truly feel old. The treatment just cannot be uncovered in a syringe, a pill or a pot of cream, the longevity (née wellness), marketplace now knowingly tells us. But I’m still to be certain we’ll uncover it in a diet plan, or a life style, possibly, regardless of how meticulously crafted and how high priced to maintain they are.

Sam Jones is the FT’s Austria and Switzerland correspondent


Sam Jones was a guest of Clinique La Prairie ( A five-working day detox-reset, like lodging, expenditures from SFr9,800 or £8,800

Discover out about our hottest tales 1st — stick to @ftweekend on Twitter