The village is Colmar, a resort built in the style of the French village of Alsace. It’s family-based, with rooms in medieval-style houses and cobbled streets. Meanwhile, it’s sister property, The Chateau, is a newly-opened turreted castle, which was modelled on Alsace’s 18th century medieval castle, Haut Koesnigburg.
I’m staying at the castle (of course) and not just to lord it over the villagers – I’m booked on the week-long Body Sculpt programme at La Santé, their all-organic spa.
My programme starts with a consultation with Dr Sharifah, who takes my measurements and gives me a body sculpting prep talk.
“80% is diet,” she says. “If it’s delicious, spit it out!”
She assures me she’s joking, says I should “eat everything in moderation”, before ladling out a few more funnies for good measure.
“Men are the cause of all women’s problems, it’s not called the men-apause for nothing!”
And, her swansong: “Eat well, exercise regularly, die anyway!”
Consultation over, and I’m ready to start my tailored-made programme. It involves a strict schedule from 8am to 7pm with two hours of yoga, one hour of personal training, at least three hours of spa treatments and small portions of low-fat food.
First I have yoga by the outdoor swimming pool with Kenny, the yoga guru from Mumbai. It’s gentle sun salutations and breathing exercises, and I trot off to breakfast feeling like everything is under control.
Breakfast varies each day between granola and fruit; rolled oats with sesame seeds; and toast with jam (no butter). Then there’s fresh orange juice, tea and coffee (this isn’t a detox programme so there’s no coffee deprivation).
The food at The Chateau is delicious. It’s described in the brochure as “organic nourishment to incite pleasures” – a French-inspired double-entendre? The head chef is from ‘la patrie’ and much of the produce is homegrown in the hotel’s kitchen garden. There’s also a Welsh pastry chef, but body sculptors can only sample a few, specially selected fruits of his labour.
After breakfast I head to the spa for Body Reshaping with Alma Ultrasound. This is considered the first real alternative to surgery and is completely painless (on alternate days I have LPG lipomassage which feels like your skin is being sucked off but is very effective).
Ultrasound involves a small metal roller (the kind you have on a lip-gloss) being run all over my body in a circular motion. The roller heats up and omits a beeping sound, so the therapists plug an I-pod into my ears as soothing (one hopes) pan pipes muffle out the beeps.
They are welcoming, friendly and professional – if anything a little over-subservient. One says “yes, mademoiselle” irrespective of what I ask.
“If you want to work in my spa you have to look fit, you have to look healthy: it’s the criteria,” Miss Ming, the General Manager, tells me. Her girls have had a year of training because these are high-tech treatments and they plan to be the best. I don’t know what they looked like before, but practicing the treatments can’t have been bad for their slim physiques.
Up next it’s my midday personal training session. Gildo, the fitness trainer, alternates between resistance training (ie weights) and cardio. Quite simply, I hate weights, but as Sod’s Law would have it, they are apparently the most effective for weight loss.
Lunchtime finally comes, and it’s green lentil salad, followed by salmon with dry fruits and asparagus. Lunch and dinner are two-courses, often soup or salad to start then a protein-heavy main course.
Afterwards, it’s back to the spa for an Austrian herbal sauna followed by a detoxifying body-wrap. La Santé is the first spa in Asia to offer European thermal facilities (a herbal sauna, salt grotto and aqua bed). Meanwhile, the service and decor (think block colours and pine woodwork) have more of an Asian persuasion.
Six o’clock brings my afternoon yoga session, which is a little more intense than the morning and combines elements of pilates.
By 7.30pm, I’m so hungry I order an apple and pineapple juice to keep me alive until dinner at 8.30pm. “It’s important,” says Dr Sharifah, “to eat at regular hours because your body begins to expect food at those times and releases acid into the stomach.”
And this is how the week passes by. It’s hard work and pretty intense – my muscles ached so badly by day two that it hurt to lift a finger (luckily, The Chateau is so well staffed that this isn’t a problem) but it brings results.
My final measuring session revealed that I had lost an inch from my waist and thighs, and half-an-inch from my arms. Not bad for a week’s work.
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