Whether you're a Russian oligarch's wife wanting to lose weight for your wedding or the leader of the world's Catholics looking for a little pick-me-up, there's a little place in Montreux that could be just what you need.

"/> Whether you're a Russian oligarch's wife wanting to lose weight for your wedding or the leader of the world's Catholics looking for a little pick-me-up, there's a little place in Montreux that could be just what you need.

" />
SHARE
COPY LINK

HEALTH

Cell your soul: staying young at a Swiss jetset clinic

Whether you're a Russian oligarch's wife wanting to lose weight for your wedding or the leader of the world's Catholics looking for a little pick-me-up, there's a little place in Montreux that could be just what you need.

Cell your soul: staying young at a Swiss jetset clinic

Yes, it’s expensive. Heart-stoppingly expensive. Clinique La Prairie, located in Montreux’s lakeside Clarens district, is billed as the world’s leading wellness facility and anti-aging institute, and it charges accordingly.

Given the clinic’s price list, it should come as no surprise that it attracts a jetset clientele. It made its name treating Pope Pius XII in 1953 and since then has been a firm favorite with Russian oligarchs, the Argentine polo set and the Hong Kong billionaires club. They all come for the same reason: to feel and look better than when they arrived. 

A Swiss health farm for the jet set might not at first sound likely to contribute much to the sum of human knowledge, but in fact the research and development carried out at this exclusive retreat filters down to the rest of us in the form of more advanced medical procedures, not to mention creams, gels, and lotions to make us feel better about getting older and maybe even keep a wrinkle or two at bay. 

Clinique La Prairie’s leadership in medical recovery and anti-aging treatment comes through its innovative research using the embryonic cells of sheep. These are used to strengthen the human immune system and speed recuperation after surgery or illness. Only black sheep will do, thank you, as they are the most resistant to illness; to control totally the entire medical process from start to finish, Clinique La Prairie maintains its own flock in a remote area of Switzerland. 

Clients often return for follow-ups to previous treatment. Some stay for extended periods; one woman reportedly stayed a whole year in order to lose weight before her wedding (and she did). Husbands, wives, or friends often come to the clinic together for simultaneous treatment; the celebrated Revitalization therapy begins at just over CHF 20,000 for a six-day programme… and goes up from there, depending on choice of accommodation and full length of stay. On staff are more than sixty doctors, ranging from physiotherapists and dieticians to neurologists and cardiologists.

Two areas where the feel is definitely not clinical are the living quarters—five-star rooms and suites worthy of any luxury hotel—and the cuisine. The rooms also facilitate the presence of friends or relatives keeping the Clinique’s clients company during treatment. Clinique La Prairie’s stylish restaurant meets even the most complicated dietary requirements, with meals prepared by a kitchen staff who understand that taste and flavour need not be sacrificed for good nutrition.

In order to make the health experience less alien from daily life, Clinique La Prairie introduced a new shopping avenue in which to pursue another kind of treatment known to chronic shoppers as retail therapy. Clients can now go shopping without leaving the grounds, facilitating the maintenance of their diets and treatments while keeping a low profile. This is not traditional retail, however; there are no shops here, only displays. The shops come to you with an array of items for your consideration in the privacy of your five-star suite. Another successful formula devised by La Clinique? It would seem so; a US$40,000 handbag was sold the day after its vitrine debut. 

If all the digits in the prices seem excessive, it must be remembered that Switzerland is home to one of the world’s densest concentrations of high net-worth individuals, with that term defined as having assets above $100 million. The fact that the country happens to be beautiful attracts all the other ones for visits, if not for residency. A more impressive figure than the cost is the number of people who can afford a stay there. How many hospitals have patients clamouring to get in?

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

HEALTH INSURANCE

What isn’t covered by Switzerland’s compulsory health insurance?

Switzerland’s basic health insurance is among the most expensive in the world, but there are certain services it doesn’t pay for. Here are some of the benefits the scheme won’t cover in full.

What isn't covered by Switzerland’s compulsory health insurance?

Basic insurance — KVG in German and LaMal in French and Italian —  is compulsory in Switzerland. It doesn’t come cheap, but it is quite comprehensive and includes coverage for illness, medications, tests, maternity, physical therapy, preventive care, and many other treatments.

It also covers accidents for those who do not have accident insurance through their workplace.

Basically, whatever the doctor orders is covered by KVG / LaMal, at least partially.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about health insurance in Switzerland

However, there are some treatments the basic insurance won’t pay for.

Experimental treatments

Any experimental treatments or drugs — that is, those not approved by the Swissmedic regulatory agency or the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) will not be covered.

This exclusion is not specifically Swiss; insurance schemes is most countries won’t cover unauthorised medical treatment either.

Dental care

In most cases, services such as teeth cleaning, dental fillings, root canals, tooth extractions, and orthodontic braces, are not included under basic insurance.

The only exceptions, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), are dental interventions “necessitated by a serious disorder of the masticatory system, or if such treatment is required to support and ensure the success of medical treatment for a severe general disorder (e.g. leukaemia, heart-valve replacement)”.

Most dental treatments are not covered. Photo by Pixabay

Eyeglasses and contact lenses

Compulsory health insurance will contribute up to 180 francs per year towards glasses and contact lenses prescribed by an ophthalmologist for children up to the age of 18.

No such benefit exist for adults. However, “in the case of serious visual impairment or certain illnesses (e.g. disease-related refraction abnormalities, postoperative alterations or corneal disease), compulsory health insurance will, regardless of age, make higher contributions towards medically prescribed spectacle and contact lenses”, FOPH says.

READ MORE: Reader question: Can Swiss health insurance exclude me if I have pre-existing conditions?

Ambulance

Emergency vehicles that transport you to a hospital can be quite expensive — depending on the canton, the costs can range from 900 to 2,000 francs per trip. 

Basic health insurance will contribute a certain amount  to the cost of emergency transportation, but only if it is a medical necessity — a serious accident, an illness, or a life-threatening situation. But if the patient could have travelled by private car or public transport, basic health insurance policies will pay nothing.

Insurance will cover some of the cost of ambulance transport only in emergency. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Private hospital room

While the cost of your hospitalisation will be fully covered, the basic insurance does not pay for a private room.

You will be accommodated in a room with other patients.

Depending on a medical facility — whether it’s a small hospital or a large, university medical centre, you could end up with just one other person or possibly four or five, the latter being common in teaching hospitals.

If you insist on a private accommodation, you will have to pay for it out of your own pocket.

Reader question: Can Swiss health insurance exclude me if I have pre-existing conditions?

Vaccines

Immunisations outlined by FOPH  will be paid for by insurance, as will the Covid vaccine.

Not covered, however, are travel-related vaccinations or preventive measures, such as against yellow fever or malaria.

Treatment abroad

Outside Switzerland, only emergency care is covered  — double the amount that the same treatment would cost in Switzerland.

Usually, basic health insurance will not cover transportation costs back to Switzerland, except in case of emergency, when it will cover 50 percent of the total cost of transportation to the nearest hospital abroad — but no more than 500 francs per year. 

If you only have a basic insurance policy and travel abroad often, especially to the United States, you should take out a travel insurance that will cover you for illness and accidents in foreign countries above and beyond what your Swiss carrier will pay.

And if you want to upgrade your treatment options, consider taking out a supplemental insurance or, if you can afford it, private one.

READ MORE: Should you buy supplemental health insurance in Switzerland?

You can find out more about what KVG / LaMal will and will not cover here.

SHOW COMMENTS