LA RESERVE GENEVA
Slowing down the ageing process is the holy grail of the beauty industry. La Reserve Geneva’s innovative Better Ageing Programme claims it can do just that. It is where science gets sexy
Think of Swiss spas and you’ll no doubt conjure up images of stark, all-white treatment rooms with a team of matronly therapists on hand to poke and pummel you. Turning the cliché on its head is La Réserve Geneva– widely regarded as one of Switzerland’s, if not Europe’s, best spas for its soft-focus approach to medical therapies. While results are firmly at the forefront of its ‘Better Ageing’ approach, it also winningly delivers when it comes to the all-important cossetting and pampering that is key to the spa experience.
Set on the edge of Lake Geneva, outside it’s all fresh air and clear vistas, the Alpines providing a shimmering background. Step inside, however, and it’s a different matter. Jacques Garcia’s African game-reserve-inspired décor is rich and decadent.
Deep red velvet armchairs, black lacquered walls and animal print carpets give a moody, cocooning feel, which is echoed in the subterranean spa. Here, while the palette switches to acres of white-on-white, the low vaulted ceilings, butter-soft leather furniture and glowing jellyfish lights nonetheless give an effortlessly stylish, ethereal quality.
It’s also where the Nescens Better Ageing magic happens. Devised by Professor Jacques Proust, an expert in the science of biological ageing, the programme analyses guests’ lifestyles, fitness levels and biology to give a full 360 degree approach to feeling better and looking younger.
Whether you choose the four-day stay, seven days or the full-on two weeks, your first stop is a session with the in-house osteopath Sebastien Ducasse, who can detect a desk slouch from a mile off (within minutes he had cricked my wonky spine back into place before I could say ‘shoulders back’).
After a full lifestyle assessment (discussions range from sleep patterns to examining how you sit at your desk) and body measurements taken, he goes on to advise your own personal trainer who will create a bespoke exercise regime for your stay and beyond. Then it’s on to the nutritionist, Julie Augustin, who talks through your diet. The spa chef will then create dishes according to her nutritional guidelines, and, invaluably, you will receive tips on what you can improve when you are back at home. Wonderfully practical, there was none of the demonising that can often occur around food choices: “Everyone needs carbs, but maybe just not at the end of the day,” says Julie. “I don’t believe in cutting things you love out. If you want a dessert, have a small one – just don’t overdo it. Life is too short.”
After the medical one-on-ones are out of the way, the jam-packed treatment programme kicks in, based around Nescens’ cosmeceutical line of products. Each day you will have a massage according to how you feel. One, for instance, incorporated lymphatic drainage (be warned: it can hurt), others address quality of sleep. You’ll also be able to drift off with a once-a-day balneotherapy, a wonderfully relaxing mood-lit, floatation treatment. Built around these are sculpting seaweed body wraps, rejuvenating scrubs, beautifying facials and firming leg treatments – making up around five hours of pampering each day.
Another highlight is the bespoke menu on offer at the uber-chic, organic spa restaurant, Café Lauren. From the John Dory with vegetable risotto to the baby squid served with a tomato broth and Thai rice, everything is exquisitely presented and sublimely tasty. Best of all, you can tuck in knowing that this is seriously healthy fare, albeit with a huge dollop of flair.
While you will definitely spend a lot of time in the spa each day (there are also two pools, a hammam and sauna to divert you), make sure you emerge out into the Swiss air, no matter how bleary-eyed you feel. During the summer months, the hotel has its own motor-boat to whisk you across Lake Geneva and into the city. It’s an invigorating way to see the sights. While in winter, the glam Winter Lodge – a pop-up affair in the hotel’s grounds with its own ice rink – specialises in seafood and sushi. Book in for one of the gourmet Secret Dinners with the illusionist Stefan Leyson for entertainment. It’s the cherry on the cake for easing away the years.
Rates at La Réserve Geneva start from £436 (CHF550) per room, per night including breakfast. The Nescens Better-Ageing four day programme starts from £2,682 (CHF3,200). For more information, visit www.lareserve.ch/en/ or call +41 22 959 59 01.
A version of this article is also out in the January 2017 issue of Kensington & Chelsea Magazine