Original FX Mayr resort review: the ultimate gut reset

Tim Samuels visits the pioneering Original FX Mayr resort – to finally beat the bloat.

Pregnancy isn’t a good look on a bloke. But for the last three or so years, triggered by random foodstuffs, my belly would pop out and bloat – taking on an unnerving resemblance to someone about four and a half months into gestation.

I’d picked something up when filming somewhere dodgy abroad. Despite seeing multiple specialists, I’d not been able to get to the bottom of what was causing the bloating – beyond a vague notion of gut bacteria being thrown out of sync.

Rather than resigning myself to wearing baggier T-shirts (maternity clothing being a stretch too far), I decided to head off to Austria to spend a week with the pioneers in gut health.

Arriving at Original FX Mayr

I’m not a religious type, but to enter the Original FX Mayr – on a stunning lake in Carinthia near the Slovakian border – is to ascend to health-conscious heaven. Legions of attentive staff – who out-number the guests by 80 to 60 – celestially float around, clad in stylish, white uniforms. Cutting-edge medical treatments are offered alongside complementary approaches. A deep-rooted serenity permeates the Mayr – where other guests ask if you’ve had ‘the cure’ before.

That cure, and the ethos running through the Mayr, dates back to the turn of the 20th century and a pioneering physician, Dr Franz Xaver Mayr. More than a century before the gut became everyone’s favourite organ, Dr Mayr presciently recognised how fundamental bowel health was. He developed the ‘Mayr cure’, which a medical acolyte of his, Dr Rauch, refined and modernised, before opening the health centre in the mid-1970s by Lake Wörthersee. Other, shall we say, copycat centres have opened across Austria and Germany since, but the FX remains the original. And it’s where I entrusted my dodgy gut for a week.

‘The approach has always been holistic here. If the digestive system is in order, the whole body is in order,’ says Gabriella Schnitzler, MD at the FX Mayr.

Learning the protocol

To get that digestion to behave itself, my hairy, bloated belly was placed in the hands of multiple medical staff – all overseen by a wise, smart German GP, Georg Kettenhuber (who’d previously done stints in the NHS and around Europe). Diagnostic tests were repeatedly run – comprehensive blood, urine and fitness analyses, alongside the more leftfield practice of kinesiology. Bespoke treatments were then prescribed by Dr Georg during our daily sessions.

The week (many guests stay for two or more) was spent bouncing between back-to-back treatments: lymphatic drainage massage, nasal infusion, minus 110°C cryotherapy, hayflower detox wraps, IHHT altitude-simulation, VR core training. And each day at breakfast, bottles of specific herbs, powders and tinctures were laid out, alongside my personal timetable for the day. It had the collegiate air of freshers’ week – ‘I’ve got lymphatic at 11am followed by colonic at noon’ – where everyone was doing their versions of the same module: reset and regenerate your health.

Going cold turkey

So are the dietary changes (including going cold turkey on dark chocolate) worth it? Dr Georg says he sees ‘significant lasting change’ that lasts for up to 12 months. ‘Fasting and bowel cleansing are the key – resulting in a reset of the intestines.’

Speaking of cleansing, I lost my colonic irrigation virginity in Austria. Without wanting to over-divulge, the seasoned practitioner at one point shouted a Germanic-tinged ‘wow’, and encouraged me to look at the sight of what she said were deceased parasites being flushed away.

I’ve now been de-wormed. Maybe parasites had been giving my gut grief after all, despite showing up negative several times in tests in the UK.

But the proof of the pudding is in the pregnancy. Since leaving, most days I’m barely showing. There’s the odd, less pronounced bloat, but it’s far more fleeting; the gut can take months and months to fully heal. It truly does feel like there’s been a reset, in ways that nothing else had achieved. And I’m committed to trying to keep up with the Mayr principles where practical – to give my gut the love that has been so lacking in my non-stop-snacking days.

Final thoughts of Original FX Mayr

I should also mention that the Mayr wasn’t a week-long chew-fest. There were forests to explore, speed boat and cycling excursions around the lake, luxurious rooms to lounge in, and some great friendships forged over the buckwheat breakfasts. My sleep and stress levels have been way better. But to no longer be asked when my baby’s due – that’s worth every slow, mindful, alkaline, intermittent chew.

Try it at home: calm your bloat

Tim shares how we can tackle bloating at home with simple Mayr principles.

Eat mindfully

Practise slow eating, chewing multiple times until you can ‘drink’ your food. Really let your meals break down before they venture further down the gut, and don’t do anything distracting while eating. Having found this onerous at first, I now – weeks later – find the idea of wolfing down food off-putting.

Goodbye snacking

In essence, leave four hours between meals – and don’t drink anything half an hour either side of eating, to not overload the system or dilute digestive juices. As someone who was in a perpetual state of head-in-the fridge grazing, this was tough at first. Especially not having a snack at 11am or a second dinner before bed. But slowly your mind realises that your body doesn’t need that food – it’s just a habit.


Dinner across the week was a mere bowl of broth or soup to encourage the body to go into ketogenesis and flush out metabolic (and ageing) waste. I struggled with this a bit – and eventually cracked by having a contraband corn cracker (hardly class A) in my room at 2am one night. The Mayr encourages trying to skip dinner once a week.

Go alkaline

We aimed to have acidic foods making up no more than a third of our diet. This means going light on sugar, coffee and processed foods. Mayr also encourage you to eat foods rich in natural probiotics – and ‘no raw after 4pm’. The innovatively-delicious meals there went heavy
on buckwheat (now virtually a daily staple for me – in bread, pasta or cracker form), polenta, soup, sheep’s milk yoghurt, cooked veg and lean protein.

Tim Samuels is an award-winning documentary-maker and author. He stayed at the Original FX Mayr. Prices from €2,100 for a seven-day retreat, excluding accommodation.

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