Medical spa

Lanserhof - The missing link

With three medical spas, a site acquired for a fourth, and plans in place to expand to the UK, Lanserhof aims to become the world’s leading medical spa brand. CMO Nils Behrens talks to Kath Hudson

What we offer is the future of medicine,” says Nils Behrens, chief marketing officer of European medical spa Lanserhof, on the company’s approach to health. “At the moment, there’s a link missing in the medical chain. People can get a diagnosis, but then they have to piece the treatment together themselves, with different therapists who often give different advice. No one looks at the whole picture. Here we have everything under one roof, with all of the medical professionals working together. We can make the diagnosis and we can also offer the treatment.”

The process is known as the LANS Med Concept – based on the Mayr method – a holistic health concept that combines traditional naturopathy methods with modern medical know-how through a combination of detox treatments, mental training, movement therapy, and programmes for beauty and aesthetics, as well as traditional massage treatments. Vital Aging – developed at Lanserhof and part of the LANS Med Concept – is a detoxification and deacidification process designed to cleanse the body, and looks at everything from nutrition to psychosocial factors to environmental pollution.

Lanserhof currently operates three medical spas: the original, Lans, in the Tyrol region of Austria; Lanserhof Hamburg; and Lanserhof Tegernsee, in the Bavarian district of Miesbach – but there are plans for several more locations.

The original Lans opened as a hotel in 1974 and became a medical spa, specialising in the Mayr method, in 1984. It was acquired by the Lanserhof team in 1998, who invested heavily in the infrastructure to take it to its current success. The 97,000sq ft (9,000 sq m) site has 67 bedrooms. In January, Lanserhof Lans unveiled the results of a major six-month renovation and expansion – the work of architect Christoph Ingenhoven, who also designed Lanserhof Tegernsee and is a regular Lanserhof guest. Ingenhoven’s aim was to integrate the architecture with the Alpine landscape, and the results include a striking new oval building with a wooden façade and a grass roof. Sixteen new suites with rooftop terraces and views stretching across the Nordkette mountains have been added, as well as a new sauna complex; indoor-outdoor saltwater swimming pool; a medical cold chamber; and advanced medical facilities for yoga, shiatsu, therapies, LANS Derma (the company’s own skincare treatments) and exercise.

The Hamburg location features an outpatient centre in addition to the medical spa, and is situated in the splendidly restored former regional post office headquarters in the heart of the city at Stephansplatz. Launched in October 2012, it specialises in sports medicine, orthopaedics and cardiology.

The third site, the 70-bedroom Lanserhof Tegernsee, sits on Lake Tegern in Germany, and opened its doors in 2014. Wellness architecture – spearheaded by Ingenhoven – has been central to the offering at Tegernsee, with a minimalist three-colour palette, which give guests the opportunity for clutter-free surroundings that are conducive to mental healing.

“When you are detoxing, you must have a visual detox as well,” explains Behrens. “There are no pictures on the wall, there are just big glass windows looking out to the mountains. Nature is the best artwork. It is a very soothing environment, because when you are receiving treatment as an inpatient, it is also very important that you are in beautiful surroundings.”

Life-changing experience
“Guests are usually surprised that we don’t offer alcohol or coffee, but they go away feeling so much better. For almost everyone it’s a life changer,” says Behrens. “It takes a few months for them to return to their old habits, which is why they come every year to refresh what they’ve learned. We are improving all the time, so regularly have something new to offer them.”

Tegernsee attracts a slightly younger demographic than Lans – the average age is 47, as opposed to 53 – and a more sporty clientele. The location also lends itself to physical activity: hiking or running in the mountains, cycling, cross country skiing or playing golf. Most of the people who choose to come to Lanserhof are suffering from stress-related issues, such as sleeping problems, headaches, sexual dysfunction, or inability to lose weight. “Most guests run their own businesses or are self-employed – entrepreneurs, actors or (people who) work in the media,” says Behrens. “They’ve often made a good career, but at the expense of their health: they have exhausted themselves. Once they’ve made the decision to come here, they want to book in straight away.”

Lanserhof has achieved an impressive occupancy rate of more than 90 per cent, with a minimum recommended stay of seven days – and ideally two weeks – and an average of 10 days. The split between men and women is almost even: 55 per cent women to 45 per cent men. Seventy per cent of guests come on their own – and frequently make long-standing friendships – and 68 per cent return every year.

But it’s not only the guests at Lanserhof who are loyal to the concept; staff at Lans have been there an average of 11 years, which makes for an enviable continuity. “People can usually guarantee they’ll be treated by the same people each visit, and might even see the same guests, so there is a sense of homecoming,” says Behrens.

Continued investment
To get the business to where it is today, there has been ongoing investment in research and development. For example, in place of an unpleasant and invasive colonoscopy, Lanserhof offers a pill cam – a pill with a camera on each side that can perform the same function. The newly refurbished Lans Lanserhof now has a cryochamber, which helps with pain relief, weight loss and skin appearance.

Behrens says much of Lanserhof’s success comes from the expertise of the 100-year-old Mayr method, combined with pushing ahead with new treatments and diagnostics, and continual investment and refurbishment. Five years ago, he says, all of the doctors were general physicians; today, there has been a widening of the medical services offering, with an increase in the number of specialists on the team.

The team is now looking ahead to the next location, a €100m (US$105m, £85m) project on the German island of Sylt, located near Denmark in the North Sea. Ingenhoven will also be the architect for the site, which will be comparable to Tegernsee with 70 bedrooms, and an anticipated opening at the end of 2019.

“The future of Lanserhof is to have more sites around the world, so we are always looking ahead,” explains Behrens.

The UK is also on Lanserhof’s expansion list, and the team is already looking for sites within 90 minutes of London, with an aim to launch by 2021. “Our primary goal is to have a spa in the UK, which is the fastest-growing market in Europe,” says Behrens. “It makes sense to open here, especially because of Brexit. If we want to be the leading medical spa brand in the world, we need to be in the UK.”

With robust bookings, a loyal clientele and a development pipeline that will take it into several new markets, Behrens is feeling confident about the company achieving the vision of becoming the world’s premier medical spa brand.

Kath Hudson is a former editor at Leisure Media and a freelance health, travel and design writer
Email: [email protected]

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Medical spa: Lanserhof
With three locations and plans for a fourth, Lanserhof hopes to become the world's leading medical spa