Continuing our series of undercover reports from the world’s best health spas, our reviewer hopped on a plane to stay at the exclusive Dolder Grand, in Zurich. While Zurich might be known as a boring banking town, Switzerland has a long tradition of medi-spas and Zurich happens to be home to one of the most exclusive and highly regarded. It’s the discreet place where those in the know go for all sorts from cosmetic treatments through to full check-ups, or just a break from the rigours of daily life. At only 90 minutes from London, it also makes the perfect weekend getaway.
Set high up in woods with breathtaking views overlooking Zurich, this hotel and spa has been a famous retreat since its opening in 1899. It has recently been refurbished and extended by Norman Foster and now boasts a state-of-the art spa and medical centre as well a Michelin-starred restaurant.
A serious bout of unsightly red, painful acne, particularly on the chin and forehead, which appeared after a bout of food-poisoning and refused to go nine months later. While the undercover sleuth relishes the idea of younger-looking skin, she would rather avoid adolescent spots, especially given she’s not been a teenager for quite a few decades. In desperation she sought help from her GP who prescribed oral antibiotics but the inflammation and blackheads remained.
Spa Spectator was advised to use several cleansing products on the skin, all designed to avoid stripping the skin of oils but preventing their build-up, thus making the spots worse. It was also explained that while the facial would help, she should keep on taking the antibiotics. It was suggested that if her skin did not begin to clear up within six weeks, she could return to be assessed further by a dermatologist based in the medical wing of the spa. Spy felt reassured by the combination of pampering and sound medical support.
A careful examination of the skin, followed by extraction of so many blackheads Spa Spectator lost count. This was followed by a bespoke Kerstin Florian facial aimed at reducing the inflammation, redressing the imbalance of oils on the skin and gently exfoliation to remove dead skin cells which would lead to more spots.
After the treatment Spa Spectator’s skin was very red and blotchy. However, as promised, over several hours the redness subsided leaving a noticeably improved complexion. Over the next few weeks using the skin products recommended and prescription antibiotics, the skin continued to improve. No blackheads and no more unsightly cysts under the skin. She has never been happier!
The medical view
Dr Max Pemberton: Adult acne can be triggered by numerous things including changes in hormone levels, infections, stress and diet. Once it has taken hold, it can prove difficult to eradicate. Antibiotics are the mainstay of treatment as they reduce the amount of bacteria present on the skin which contribute to the spots. However, they will have little impact on blackheads which are caused by blockage of the pores by the skin’s natural oil, sebum and dead skin cells. These need to be extracted and steps taken to reduce the overall amount of sebum present on the skin – something which this treatment appears to address.
The feelgood factor
Spa Spectator defies anyone not to feel pampered and relaxed at The Dolder. The staff were attentive and kind, the food magnificent and the views breathtaking.
Dolder Grand in Zurich (0041 44 456 6000, thedoldergrand.com) offers double bedrooms from 700 Swiss francs (£461) on a room-only basis. Swiss International Air Lines (0845 601 0956, swiss.com/uk) flies to Zurich up to 13 daily from London, and three times daily from Manchester and Birmingham with flights starting from £99 per person return.