Spoil yourself, big time

Justine Tyerman takes a risk in the mountains of Switzerland

Justine Tyerman takes a risk in the mountains of Switzerland

The entrance to the Grand Hotel Hof Ragaz.
The La Prairie Skin Caviar range.
French champagne with gold leaf floating among the bubbles.
La Prairie uses gold, platinum and caviar in its Exclusive Cellular Complex.
A gift to take home from La Prairie.
After La Prairie, the selfie-in-the-mirror trick.
Miriam, my delightful beauty therapist at La Prairie in the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, Switzerland.
La Prairie is exquisitely packaged.

I can count the number of facials I’ve had on one hand, on one finger in fact.

I’ve always been dubious about how my sensitive skin and eyes will react to the ingredients in some products, but when offered a complimentary treatment from Switzerland’s premier skincare range, I decide valour is the better part of discretion. In a foreign country far from home, a degree of reckless abandon tends to overcome my normal caution.

I also reason that if one trusts the Swiss with precision surgical instruments, watches and pharmaceuticals, I could find a way to trust them with my skin.

Besides La Prairie has been around since 1931 and is up there with the world’s best so I agree to place myself in the hands of beauty therapist Miriam at La Prairie boutique in the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz.

As I wait in the sumptuous reception lounge, a glass of French champagne with gold leaf floating among the bubbles appears in my hand along with caviar canapés.

And I’m aware that the glamorous women around me all have a radiant glow . . . and that’s before I drink the champers.

By the time I’m on the couch in a luxurious treatment room, I’m über-relaxed. Miriam explains the procedure as she expertly cleanses, applies a grapefruit peel, toner, moisturiser and then the tour de force . . . caviar serum.

At the thought of fish eggs on my face, I have a strong urge to leap off the couch and exit stage right . . . but Miriam gently massages my hands, part of the therapy, and explains the highly concentrated caviar oils and proteins fill, firm, lift, plump and help restore skin’s density.

“They work on the skin’s extracellular matrix, helping to strengthen the skin barrier and encourage cells to better interact with each other, all of which contribute to younger-looking skin,” she says.

Then she dazzles me with the technical stuff.

Through pressing and centrifugation, caviar’s lipids and proteins are isolated and then re-combined. Designed to increase skin volume and firmness, they deliver rich nutrients and moisture to the skin and stimulate collagen formation. Blended with brown algae and peony root extracts, the formula helps smooth the skin’s texture and increase elasticity.

And they are not just ordinary fish eggs — La Prairie’s caviar is extracted from the roe of Baerii sturgeon grown on aquaculture farms in France.

Miriam can’t tell me too much more other than to say, La Prairie uses three rare ingredients in its Exclusive Cellular Complex — gold, platinum and caviar — and they take extreme measures to protect their formula. La Prairie has three separate labs to ensure the complex remains a secret — one lab for the yeast fermentation process, one for the micro-organism fermentation process, and a third in which the various components are blended together. No single technician or chemist knows the exact recipe.

I also learn that Dr Paul Niehans, head doctor at the Clinique La Prairie in Montreux when it opened 86 years ago was summoned to Rome in 1953 to the bedside of the dying Pope Pius XII. After receiving a course of the doctor’s ground-breaking cellular therapy, the Pope evidently recovered. In gratitude, he granted Dr Niehans a membership to the Papal Academy of Sciences.

Among other notables who have entrusted themselves to La Prairie are Charles de Gaulle, Emperor Hirohito, members of the British Royal Family, Sir Winston Churchill, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe and Pablo Picasso.

It’s all part of the mystique, the allure, the legend of the brand which is exquisitely packaged using the Matterhorn as a symbol.

“OK, I’ll stay then, as long as I don’t leave smelling like a fish market.”

Miriam laughs.

I depart an hour later walking on clouds in my white robe and matching slippers. My skin has a distinctive glow that lasts several days, and no hint of a fishy smell. There’s a catch of course . . . I would need to keep visiting Miriam to maintain the radiant look or buy the product and apply it myself, which costs about the same amount as an airfare to Switzerland.

But if you want to spoil yourself big time, or impress someone with a gift, there’s nothing quite like La Prairie.

I can count the number of facials I’ve had on one hand, on one finger in fact.

I’ve always been dubious about how my sensitive skin and eyes will react to the ingredients in some products, but when offered a complimentary treatment from Switzerland’s premier skincare range, I decide valour is the better part of discretion. In a foreign country far from home, a degree of reckless abandon tends to overcome my normal caution.

I also reason that if one trusts the Swiss with precision surgical instruments, watches and pharmaceuticals, I could find a way to trust them with my skin.

Besides La Prairie has been around since 1931 and is up there with the world’s best so I agree to place myself in the hands of beauty therapist Miriam at La Prairie boutique in the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz.

As I wait in the sumptuous reception lounge, a glass of French champagne with gold leaf floating among the bubbles appears in my hand along with caviar canapés.

And I’m aware that the glamorous women around me all have a radiant glow . . . and that’s before I drink the champers.

By the time I’m on the couch in a luxurious treatment room, I’m über-relaxed. Miriam explains the procedure as she expertly cleanses, applies a grapefruit peel, toner, moisturiser and then the tour de force . . . caviar serum.

At the thought of fish eggs on my face, I have a strong urge to leap off the couch and exit stage right . . . but Miriam gently massages my hands, part of the therapy, and explains the highly concentrated caviar oils and proteins fill, firm, lift, plump and help restore skin’s density.

“They work on the skin’s extracellular matrix, helping to strengthen the skin barrier and encourage cells to better interact with each other, all of which contribute to younger-looking skin,” she says.

Then she dazzles me with the technical stuff.

Through pressing and centrifugation, caviar’s lipids and proteins are isolated and then re-combined. Designed to increase skin volume and firmness, they deliver rich nutrients and moisture to the skin and stimulate collagen formation. Blended with brown algae and peony root extracts, the formula helps smooth the skin’s texture and increase elasticity.

And they are not just ordinary fish eggs — La Prairie’s caviar is extracted from the roe of Baerii sturgeon grown on aquaculture farms in France.

Miriam can’t tell me too much more other than to say, La Prairie uses three rare ingredients in its Exclusive Cellular Complex — gold, platinum and caviar — and they take extreme measures to protect their formula. La Prairie has three separate labs to ensure the complex remains a secret — one lab for the yeast fermentation process, one for the micro-organism fermentation process, and a third in which the various components are blended together. No single technician or chemist knows the exact recipe.

I also learn that Dr Paul Niehans, head doctor at the Clinique La Prairie in Montreux when it opened 86 years ago was summoned to Rome in 1953 to the bedside of the dying Pope Pius XII. After receiving a course of the doctor’s ground-breaking cellular therapy, the Pope evidently recovered. In gratitude, he granted Dr Niehans a membership to the Papal Academy of Sciences.

Among other notables who have entrusted themselves to La Prairie are Charles de Gaulle, Emperor Hirohito, members of the British Royal Family, Sir Winston Churchill, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe and Pablo Picasso.

It’s all part of the mystique, the allure, the legend of the brand which is exquisitely packaged using the Matterhorn as a symbol.

“OK, I’ll stay then, as long as I don’t leave smelling like a fish market.”

Miriam laughs.

I depart an hour later walking on clouds in my white robe and matching slippers. My skin has a distinctive glow that lasts several days, and no hint of a fishy smell. There’s a catch of course . . . I would need to keep visiting Miriam to maintain the radiant look or buy the product and apply it myself, which costs about the same amount as an airfare to Switzerland.

But if you want to spoil yourself big time, or impress someone with a gift, there’s nothing quite like La Prairie.

Facts

• Justine Tyerman travelled courtesy of Switzerland Tourism and stayed at the Grand Resort, Bad Ragaz.

• The Grand Resort, Bad Ragaz: www.resortragaz.ch/en.html

• La Prairie: www.laprairieswitzerland.com

• Switzerland Tourism: www.MySwitzerland.com

• Swiss Travel Pass: www.MySwitzerland.com/rail

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