Marbella is best known as a party destination, but after my week
at the Buchinger Wilhelmi outpost on the Mediterranean, I will forever
associate the Spanish city with relaxation and refreshment.
The original Buchinger Wilhelmi spa
was founded in Überlingen, Germany in 1953 by Otto Buchinger, the
inventor of medical therapeutic fasting. Otto’s daughter Maria
opened the Spanish outpost in 1973, and it is still run by the
family today, with Katharina Rohrer-Zaiser and Victor Wilhelmi
taking over in 2017.
A longtime fan of the Überlingen clinic, I finally got the
chance to visit the Marbella location this spring. I was feeling rundown
after a cold winter, my neck and jaw constantly ached and work had
been non-stop – it was time for a reboot.
The diet regime can seem strict – the Buchinger meal plan
prescribes tea and a small pot of honey for breakfast, soup and a
juice for lunch and soup for supper – but there is flexibility. I
am allowed coffee for my blood pressure (and because I’m addicted
and would be climbing the walls without it), and there is also the
option of calorie-controlled menus using fresh fruit and vegetables
from the clinic’s personal organic farm.
A team of jolly nurses and charming doctors are always there
keeping tabs on patients and ensuring everyone is happy. The stay
begins with a round of blood tests to work out what might be ailing
and which diet plan would work best, followed by daily check ups to
ensure progress is positive. The first two days are a bit tough,
adapting to the change of pace and diet, but the hunger pangs soon
I book some additional treatments to sort out individual aches
and pains. The shiatsu is wonderfully relaxing, as is the cranial
massage which eases out my sore jaw. The underwater massage is a
revelation – I’m dunked into a warm bath of seaweed and sprayed
with a hot hose from beneath the surface. I walk out feeling
Filling the time between meals could not be easier. With its
white minimalist architecture and landscaped
gardens, the Buchinger Wilhelmi Marbella outpost feels far more
like a luxury hotel than a health clinic. Days are spent around the
beautiful pool, reading on the
loungers draped in chic blue and white striped towels, or strolling
through grounds abundant with bougainvillea and palm trees. There
are regular water aerobics classes, walks, yoga, visits to the
organic farm and the Saturday flea market, a fully equipped gym and
a lovely shop.
I arrived at the Marbella clinic raddled and full of aches and
pains. I leave 4kg lighter, sleeping well, my body soothed and
rested. The combination of an effective fasting regime, excellent
medical care, long days in the sun, rest, reading and time away from the
frenetic pace of London has reset not just my body but
my whole frame of mind, readying me for the busy summer ahead.