At Lanserhof’s New Location in Sylt, the Couple That Detoxes Together Stays Together
A few weeks and 12 hours of transit later, we disembark at Westerland train station, on the northernmost tip of Germany, inches from the Danish border. “At least you are close to your beloved Vikings,” I tell the grump beside me, as our taxi glides along a thin, windswept road flanked on both sides by the moonlit Wadden Sea, edged in undulating sand dunes. It is nearly midnight when we pull up to the property’s main building, but the low, three-pronged structure with satellite-like curves and an impressive thatched roof—the largest in Europe, apparently—is just visible. Designed by award-winning German architect Christoph Ingenhoven, the entire property features sustainable materials, including stone, concrete, and unfinished and untreated wood, that do not release significant pollutants into indoor environments. We are greeted by the night manager who, with minimal fanfare, leads us up to our pared-back two-story suite, its sloping architectural contours comfortingly enveloping. Three tiny pots of colorful vegetable dips with paper-thin spelt crackers are delivered in lieu of dinner, and we are told to report to the medical department at 7 a.m. I haven’t gotten up that early since breastfeeding our daughter in 2001.
But I am long overdue for a wake-up call. Following a squamous cell carcinoma cancer diagnosis 11 years ago and multiple surgeries, I underwent two years of chemotherapy and radiation that resulted in facial palsy as well as anaphylaxis during my last infusion. Getting the all-clear in 2021 was a relief; but a perforated intestine resulted in yet another surgery and endless rounds of intravenous antibiotics. Recent bouts of hypothyroidism, followed by Epstein-Barr, chronic fatigue syndrome, as well as IBS, have left me more than a little due for some regeneration. Losing a couple of pounds wouldn’t go amiss either. But more than anything, I just wanted to feel “better” again, and the opportunity to do so—alongside my recalcitrant but uxorious husband—after the loneliness of time spent in hospitals is a bonus.
So at 7 a.m. I stagger down to the medical area in my dressing gown and complimentary teal-colored Birkenstocks, where I undergo a “biometrical impedance analysis” designed to measure my weight, body fat, and muscle and water percentages; kidney, liver, and heart functions; as well as my glucose levels and blood pressure. The nurse asks me if I have adhered to the two-week pre-arrival recommendations of abstaining from caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and cigarettes, as well as reducing meal sizes. “Sort of,” I say, stretching the truth. She smiles knowingly; it’s clearly not the first time she has heard this.
Afterward, I join my husband in the vast airy dining room for breakfast where we have been assigned a table for the duration of our stay (anyone flying solo can join a round “sharing table”). Old-school politeness prevails, and fellow patients—a Franco-American couple to our left (the husband is a dead ringer for French football legend David Ginola), and a handsome Italian influencer who resembles a young Joaquin Phoenix to our right—nod quiet “good mornings” as they pass. The overall tableau, with its curved floor-to-ceiling windows through which tall pale-green reeds sway prettily in the breeze, brings to mind an early-20th-century Alpine institution.
A small bowl of yogurt and two Lego-size pieces of toast are placed in front of us, as well as a wheatgrass shot and one of Lans Med Bitter Drops (a natural mixture of plant extracts that supports the detoxification of the liver, bile, and stomach). We are told to chew each mouthful 40 times and not to drink anything while eating, other than the shots to aid digestion. I can almost hear my husband’s stomach growling like an angry bear. “Be patient,” I tell him. There are typically three menu stages, but my program had seven: 0, 1, 2, 2.1, 2.2, 3, and lastly—the holy grail—Active. We stare enviously at the wildly exciting addition of fruit compotes and carbs, such as quinoa and spelt, on the plates of our neighbors, who are evidently days ahead of us.