Fri 05 November 2021

As I pad silently through the venerable, wood-panelled environs of the Chenot Palace Weggis’ storied old building and into its ultra-swish new 5,000-square-meter (around 54,000 square feet) mega spa, I wonder if this is the vision Henri Chenot had for the revolutionary new health methodology he established more than 50 years ago. 

Somehow, I doubt it. But I also very much doubt he’d be anything other than thrilled by the impact the ‘Chenot Method’ approach to health has had on the world of wellness and preventative healthcare. Indeed, the flagship Chenot Palace Weggis, set heroically on the shores of Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne surrounded by snow-capped Alpine peaks, has just scooped the award for the World’s Best Detox Program 2021 by the World Spa Awards – and after a week-long detox there it’s easy to see why.

The original Chenot Method is a fusion of protocols, healthcare treatments and diet tailored uniquely to each client who walks through the doors of any Chenot establishment around the world, spread far and wide from Azerbaijan to Athens, Montenegro to Morocco. A framework for wellness focused on preventing rather than curing ills, it combines ​​diet and healthy living, science and diagnostics, detox and immunity through a dedication to ancient Chinese healing perfectly juxtaposed with the very latest in cutting-edge medical treatments. 

Henri Chenot sadly passed away at the end of 2020 but his legacy lives on in his healthcare methodology, thanks in no small part to his wife Dominique who deserves much of the credit for its implementation and success. Today it has been elevated further by the appointment of rehab guru George Gaitanos who has brought his own dedication to the latest scientific treatments and blended it with Henri’s well-established practices. 

The result is nothing short of extraordinary but does bring with it a requirement for guests to commit to a week-long dedication to detox and an expectation to take what they learn about themselves and apply it in the long-term to really maximize the benefits. 

But first, the Chenot Palace Weggis itself. A sprawling mix of old and new beautifully aligned (and hence a lovely architectural metaphor for the treatments available within), it closets guests in five-star luxury without the typical indulgences of rich, unhealthy foods and bottomless booze. 

From the moment you enter the wide, spacious lobby, greeted by friendly staff and the sight of guests dressed in only the fluffiest bathrobes gliding serenely from treatment to treatment, the potent mix of wellness and luxury is obvious. So too is the unmistakable sensation of calm (as long as you have the bank balance to not worry about the price of it all – which all guests barring yours truly clearly do). 

Colour palettes are neutral and unfussy, artwork curious but not pretentious, furnishings seamless in their respective environments. Rooms and suites are available in both the old and new buildings and so vary in size and view but not in detail or quality. Beds are vast and comfy (sleep is a primary factor in wellness although many guests I talk to – myself included – don’t sleep brilliantly simply because of the impact of detox), bathrooms luxurious and grand. For fantastic lakeside views, the old building is the pick but for bigger rooms and epic balconies, the new build should be your first choice. 

Facilities are second to none with an enormous spa, pool and the ubiquitous facilities that come with such a setup. The treatment center is a tangle of corridors and private rooms too numerous to count offering many treatments you’ll never have heard of. Relaxation spaces are everywhere, from quiet reading rooms to hidden nooks perfect for trying to forget about the fact you haven’t had any coffee for five days. Outside, guests can relax and take a dip in the lake from their own private garden and jetty.

Once settled, the first port of call is a meeting with a doctor and nutritionist to establish a baseline for your health and to better understand what you’re looking for from the experience. I opted for the Advanced Detox program “designed to unleash the self-healing power of your body” after a year of pandemic-induced overindulgence. 

Combining Henri’s classic treatments – daily hydro-aromatherapy, phyto-mud wraps, cupping massage and a particularly brutal (or as Chenot describes it, “invigorating”) high-pressure, ice-cold hydro-jet shower that brought to my mind Hollywood movies of unlucky criminals being jet-washed before incarceration, and a limited calorie plant-based diet – with George’s technology-focused approach – photobiomodulation, cryotherapy, blood and body composition analysis to name but a few treatments available – its effect on me was both startling and profound.

Led by knowledgeable, friendly and deeply reassuring expert staff who soon know your body far better than you ever will, your schedule can be as relaxed or busy as you wish. Guests – a fantastic mix of businessmen and women, singles looking for escape, couples looking for downtime together (though I can’t imagine going through a week of detox sharing a room with anyone, even my most beloved), Russian pop princesses and Swiss sports stars (yes, that one) – typically find their own balance based on what they want, and Chenot works hard to make that happen. 

Over seven days, the impact of the program is undeniable. The single biggest repercussion is the lack of caffeine, which renders me almost incapacitated for half a day (the barley-based substitute is delicious but my body is not fooled!) 

I lose a significant amount of weight thanks to exercise, detox sweating and a calorie-counted plant-based diet, which while not exactly filling, is extraordinarily delicious. My sleep is disrupted but improves slowly. 

I feel a little light headed much of the time but also, curiously healthy and proud of myself for not cheating with a visit to nearby Weggis and its plethora of tasty food outlets – something I see one other guest indulging in with shopping bags of snacks and, unbelievably, a bottle of vodka! 

At the end of the week I take my last treatment – a cryotherapy session spending three minutes almost naked in a room chilled to minus 110 degrees celsius. I emerge triumphant, exhilarated and after a minute or two of warming up, feel like Superman. It’s a fitting end to an extraordinary week – Henri Chenot would definitely be proud.

A seven-day Advanced Detox program starts from CHF 5,300 (around $5,800), before adding other recommended treatments, and includes accommodation and all meals.


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