A heavenly detox weekend

One guest’s story

Recently I found a gift in the form of a voucher from the Hotel Engel on my breakfast table, and I embraced my private angel with joy. Now the heavenly weekend is approaching, with plenty of relaxation, purging of the system and an Ayurvedic cleansing cure.
My inner centre has in the last weeks been coming adrift. All the more so, then, I would like to have a whole weekend of peace, with my mobile switched off, leaving my cares and thoughts outside the door and applying just the right energy needed by my detox cure.

Ayurveda – knowledge of life
As the road winds upwards through the gorge, provoking a gently echoed movement in me, an idea takes shape: Ayurvedic relaxation, nestling between the graceful aura of the Karer Lake and the elemental forces of the Dolomites. A truly cosmic combination!

Ayurveda is not an unknown quantity to me. The human body is based upon the three life energies of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. At the centre of this holistic healing method are treatments using oil, the practice of yoga and movement and a herb-based diet to regulate the digestive fires.

For the moment, however, the fires are dissipated in the summer air. It is a hot day and before I undertake anything, I am guided from the reception to the bar of the Hotel Engel.

Lavender and jasmine - a floral welcome cocktail
Before me is a long-stemmed polished glass filled with an almost transparent sparkling liquid that transports me sip by sip to another realm, while the sun makes the first shadows creep across the floor, a gentle breeze catches in the palm fronds and causes the cherry trees behind to sway. The flower potion is taking effect. I have arrived…

… and am taken in hand by angels
Branka accompanies me from the front desk to my room. With an outside temperature of 30 degrees I am perspiring, so the cool bathroom seems like a temple bath, with its stone slabs, tiles, white towels, my bathrobe and the many little attentions to detail in the form of shampoo and soap bottles – with shimmering shades of green in the mirror and, under the balcony, the rippling blue surface of the swimming pool.

I quickly get changed, as I soon have a diagnosis with Claudio where all will be about me: I will be entering a world of health from which I will only reappear some 48 hours later.

The Méthod Setti® – magical energy
Claudio Setti is the name not only of the therapist, but also of his method: the “Méthode Setti®”. Holistic treatment, becoming complete, feeling one’s surroundings, embedding oneself into the larger whole: the great striving and everlasting longing of humans - myself included.
I am welcomed by him and his team with firm handshakes and, accompanied by a flask of hawthorn tea, I am led into a quiet room for diagnosis. To be honest I have no idea what is to happen to me. As we speak, I review my body, my eating habits, my stress levels: every aggravation is probed, each cramping influence investigated.

Claudio makes an eye diagnosis, takes my pulse, observes how I sit, speak, look. He recommends certain herbal products made personally by a local pharmacist - a distinguished expert, as I afterwards discover - from the plants of the surrounding area. We also discuss a programme for the coming meals and Claudio passes on the plan straight to the kitchen. Normally I am sceptical, but I here speak freely because I feel at ease - and thus all the lighter.

The first massage
The smell of ylang-ylang hangs in the air, the room is bright and mantras float from the speakers. I slowly become myself and the massage begins equally slowly, with Ayurvedic stroking movements and gentle pressure on the acupressure points. Each tension has its own story: it is listened to with warm oil, allowed to be itself - and then released.

Tridosha – energy and art on the plate
In the meantime it is now evening. I sleepwalk to my room and were it not for my stomach rumbling, I would go straight to bed. But an Ayurvedic menu awaits: Tridosha - the cuisine of the three fires. The “Maitre” is as it were my personal waiter, my personal angel in mealtime matters. While award-winning chef Theodor Falser practises his magic arts in the kitchen, I am led to the salad buffet. My mouth waters at the vast array of aromas surrounding me. But detox also means a vegan diet, which may sound strict, but I did not mind at all. At the salad buffet I tuck into the crudités: tomatoes, lamb’s lettuce, potatoes, beetroot. Fascinated, I look at the salt pots with their salt flakes, black sea salt and a red Hawaiian salt mix. But the Maitre beside me quietly shakes his head. I am momentarily disappointed to have to pass on the salt, but the roasted sesame seeds on the table immediately cheer me up and I sprinkle another spoonful over the salad while the Maitre is not looking.

Works of art follow one another onto my plate. Strewn with little blossoms and grass stems, rice and vegetable dishes are served separately. The head chef, says the Maitre, fetches the herbs that adorn my meals from the meadows each morning. My palate is tickled by a variety of tastes. Tart, fruity, strange. Masala spice mixes are blended with Jerusalem artichokes into small creamy droplets, while the aubergine puree is blue from the vegetable’s skin. I eat slowly: my whole system is oriented to pure nature as I eat.

Later I visit the terrace. A guest sits at the piano on which – what else - two angels rest on their elbows under a rose-pink bouquet. Outside, the mountain peaks catch the evening sun. Fabio the waiter nods his head and smiles. I drink a final hawthorn tea and go off to bed.
All is alive – all is flowing
… And I am woken at around half-past six with a lemon water.
Cleansing naturally means drinking large quantities, which is no problem at all in the Hotel Engel. You are never far from a small drinking fountain to quench your thirst. The spring is located a little way above the hotel; the drinks stations are a source of happiness.

The dialogue flows too. I chat with various people: Claudio, the Maitre, the waiter, the nice lady at the reception, with Mrs Kohler, with Mr Falser. It is all informal, relaxed, informative. Everyone knows the holistic concept and has their own thoughts about it: a sign that plenty is being done right here. Speaking freely means that people feel at ease: they are then in harmony with their deeds.

… My thoughts are cast to the wind
For breakfast I enjoy muesli served with homemade almond milk and I recognise the cook from his radiant smile. He woke me in the early morning with the hot lemon and now he presses a grapefruit juice for me. I try another spoonful of millet mash and a spoonful of porridge with cinnamon, which is as much as I can manage. So I chew longer, as slowly as possible. Breakfast is concluded with golden-yellow turmeric milk.

The pool welcomes me with water that feels like warm oil: I then stretch out under a light canopy. A gentle breeze blows through my hair and makes the white curtain billow as it caresses my back, while the leaves on the cherry trees rustle.

Breathing – from earth up to heaven
The next treatments begin with yoga in the gymnasium. Claudio, my personal coach, accompanies me with the basics, breathing, from the tips of my toes to the crowning chakra. I am at first quite dizzy from the rapid contortions, my pelvis twisted, my shoulders sagging. But I try again - I have time. I am allowed to be slow. My body seeks its centre and delights as the light cord of breath invigorates it. In. Out. All becomes distant.

The art of the mindful hand
The second and third treatments resemble more of a dance than a therapy. A dialogue that is dynamic, gentle and strong, stretching, rubbing with oil. I delight in the mindfulness that surrounds me. The little signs of time disappear from the face as it relaxes. The massaging hands react to every little twitch, each pain, each joy as I let go.
We get together afterwards in order to speak. Claudio refers to certain of my symptoms and their effects. I have also experienced and understood a great deal through my sensations. I feel as if I am being observed: even the things about which I do not speak and that only my body shows.

The snacks between meals are again little works of art. No animal proteins, low in salt, no sugar, with vegetable dishes and carbohydrates consumed separately. Priority is given to beauty. In the harmony of the body, the senses, understanding and soul can resound. Days later I am still swaying to this melody.

Thank you for this gift. Thanks to my personal angel and to the many angels in the hotel. Thank you for the mindfulness. And thank you for the timeliness.
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