Simone Gibertoni

Swiss medical resort Clinique La Prairie is on the cusp of a major global rollout which will see it open up to 50 properties. Megan Whitby talks to its CEO about what the future holds

Founded in 1931 by professor Paul Niehans, Clinique La Prairie (CLP) has carved out a name for itself as one of the leading medical wellness brands.

CLP’s flagship resort is based in Montreux, a picturesque Swiss town on the shores of Lake Geneva. It focuses on four pillars – medical insight, wellness, nutrition and movement and its method stands out, thanks to its use of DNA testing to customise programmes, as well as the use of its famous Clinique La Prairie Extract, Cellular Genomic supplements and Holistic Health supplements.

Now approaching its centenary, CLP is entering a new chapter focused on global expansion and innovation. It’s revealed city-based satellite sites – known as Longevity Hubs – in Madrid, Bangkok, Doha and Taipei. Health Resorts are also on the cards, with China and Saudi Arabia being the first destinations in the next few years. In total, the goal is to open an ambitious 50 new properties.

It’s safe to say CLP is building up some serious momentum. But how will the brand stay true to its roots and enhance its existing offering while expanding? Spa Business speaks to CEO Simone Gibertoni to learn more.

How did you get into wellness?
I started out as a strategy and organisational consultant, overseeing projects for luxury businesses in Italy and internationally, before moving into GM and CEO roles in the cosmetics industry. I worked for companies such as Valmont and created several businesses in Asia.

I’ve been the CEO of CLP since 2016 and have the pleasure of driving the international development and diversification strategy of this iconic Swiss brand. Our mission is to become a global player with the ability to help people live a longer, healthier and better life.

What’s been the key to CLP’s success?
Guests know they can trust our CLP Longevity Method which draws on the pillars of medical insight, wellness, nutrition and movement to target inflammation, slow ageing and boost immunity. Our approach brings together advanced lab and genetic testing, longevity science, experts from multiple disciplines and more than 50 doctors under one roof in Montreux. We provide each guest with a comprehensive overview of their health and a bespoke plan to change their cellular environment to optimise wellbeing. We also target and lower the inflammatory responses that are linked to genetic predisposition or lifestyle habits that can lead to a wide range of complications and diseases.

Who are your guests?
CLP’s clientele is part of an affluent international community and is drawn from more than 80 countries in Europe, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East. The average age of our guests is 46 and our programmes are booked largely by couples.

What demands are you seeing from clients?
In the past, a lot of guests were looking for a quick fix, hoping to follow a programme for a week and then continue as usual throughout the year.

Today, they’re coming to us with very clear objectives and seeking serious results. They know what type of experience they’re looking for and are not willing to compromise.

We’ve noticed that they’re also beginning to understand the importance of taking a long-term holistic approach, which is precisely what we offer. Following their stay, clients are encouraged to keep in contact with our team to help them maintain an optimal routine at home and thus prolong the benefits of their programme.

Is the CLP Extract still administered to patients?
Yes, it remains at the core of our signature seven-day Revitalisation programme to stimulate cell regeneration, fight the signs and causes of ageing and enhance overall mental and physical health.

The extract has been honed to perfection by our on-site scientists over the past few decades, in keeping with advances in longevity research and is administered in an oral formula.

Since 2021, the extract has been offered in conjunction with two bio-stimulants to improve cell function further.

What markets are in your sights?
We already have Longevity Hubs open and operating in Qatar, Madrid, Taipei and Bangkok, with Dubai opening in January 2024. More locations will follow in Asia and Europe.

Our debut Health Resort will launch in Anji, China, in 2024, followed by another in Amaala, the wellness-focused Saudi giga project, in 2025.

The US is the next territory on our roadmap because it’s an important market for expansion.

The long-term plan is to reach about 40 Longevity Hubs and 10 Health Resorts, while always maintaining exclusivity and reinforcing that the flagship property in Montreux is the pinnacle of our portfolio.

Why China for CLP’s Asian debut?
Health Resorts are big projects, as you can imagine. In Anji, for example, it’s a 1.3-hectare site which offers 29 rooms and suites spread over seven villas. On top of this, there’s a core building that houses the medical, wellness, movement and nutrition departments.

It takes years to grow such properties from the first exchange to being able to announce and open them and we’re very selective in the destinations and their exclusivity. Over the past five years, we’ve engaged in active discussions with several partners across several countries about creating Health Resorts with us. The Anji project was the first to emerge as the perfect location to meet all our criteria but it also reflects the demand from our Asian clients.

Why is now the right time to expand?
Chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s are on the rise and our Longevity Hubs help people prioritise preventative medicine and early detection.
They offer a first-access approach to CLP services such as health assessments, cryotherapy, far-infrared light, nutraceuticals, IV drips and brain stimulation. Importantly, they allow our international clients to continue their journey closer to home, enabling them to regularly engage with our experts and build healthy routines.

The Health Resorts will bridge the gap between the Longevity Hubs and our flagship site. Set in stunning locations, these highly exclusive destinations will be very similar to our flagship – in-house medical and wellbeing experts will deliver week-long longevity and detox programmes combining preventative medicine and genetic/epigenetic testing, with wellbeing, lifestyle and nutrition plans – but on a smaller scale, with around 50 bedrooms.

Also, and this is core to our 90-year pioneer approach, the advancements in longevity research are on an accelerating curve and this means there will be more and more new technologies and know-how to serve the purpose of helping guests lead a longer, richer life.

Will you adapt the concept globally?
Preserving CLP’s DNA while also expanding on a global scale is paramount. I look at it in terms of preserving our core competencies as a company – our unique longevity philosophy, top-class culture and expectation-exceeding service.

We have a team of 15 people dedicated to our international development and experts in Montreux – specialising in disciplines from medicine to science to nutrition to wellness to hospitality and more – who make sure our global outposts encapsulate the expertise and experience of CLP in every detail.

Adaptation to the market may come depending on the environment. In Amaala for example, we’re in an incredible location that made us push the boundaries from an architectural perspective. This is how we came up with the idea of having a central Longevity Plaza at the heart of the architecture, with every one of the four pillars stemming from that.

How has the Holistic Health supplement line been received?
Longevity lies at the heart of all that we do. This is what drove us to develop our Holistic Health nutraceuticals range in 2021 following five years of scientific research. It includes four lines – Age-Defy, Balance, Energy and Purity – each of which has a core complex made up of three layers of nutrients, to tackle the root causes of ageing and promote cellular longevity.

Since the launch of Holistic Health, we’ve built strategic partnerships with Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park and Harrods – both in London – for bespoke programming, as well as opening our first Holistic Health boutique at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.

What else is in the pipeline?
CLP is proud to be the first partner to provide AudioVitality’s innovative sound therapy technology.

Conducted in a soundproofed treatment studio, the experience consists of a 40-minute session where guests lie and listen to an AudioVitality soundtrack blending low-frequency sounds with optional harmonic distortions and binaural components.

Known as RubesaSounds, these blends can create physical, biological, neural and mental systemic stimulation that positively affect health, wellbeing, performance and longevity. They can also stimulate the body’s natural capacity to heal and regulate body vitality.

AudioVitality sessions are now integrated into our Master Detox programme and are available as an add-on to any programme.

We’re now also offerring a new combined Revitalisation and Beauty Stem Cell Programme.

This is a blend of our longevity-focused Revitalisation journey with stem cell treatments to rejuvenate the face. Created by the clinic’s medical specialists, the seven-day stay is designed to regenerate both body and mind, activate the immune system and add cutting-edge aesthetics intervention to help guests regain a more youthful appearance.

What’s the next big thing in wellness?
Brain health has emerged as a growing trend due to increased awareness that the brain is so interconnected with multiple factors of our physical health. This is also linked with mental health concerns and growing cases of age-related cognitive disorders.

To this end, we’re developing a brain health programme in collaboration with the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Lausanne. Our scientific committee has already edited a white paper about it and our experts are now developing the content so it can launch imminently. The objective is to comprehensively work on the lifetime factors governing guests’ brain health, including nutrition, lifestyle behaviours, sleep habits, cardiovascular risk factors and chronic inflammation.

Another movement not to be overlooked is personalised medicine using AI. By considering an individual’s genetic makeup, medical history, lifestyle and environmental factors, AI can add a highly interesting layer for our physicians to tailor prevention strategies to a guest’s specific needs.

At CLP, we’re working on an assessment powered by AI. There’s not much I can reveal right now, but it will be very interesting for the future of epigenetics.

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Having designed and managed some of the most renowned spas in the world, Tracy has carved out a reputation of steady leadership and innovation recognised throughout the industry.
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