How to Detox Like a Hollywood Power Player

Irena Medavoy reveals her best-kept secret.

Tucked far away in an idyllic Alpine village named Merano, there is a majestic hotel not unlike the 5-star grande dames you might find dotting the shores of Lake Como. Except Palace Merano isn’t just a hotel. It’s also the home of Espace Chenot, a health and wellness spa emporium created by Dr. Henri Chenot.

Merano, Italy

In more than 30 years of doing business, he has amassed quite a legion of diehard fans, while also managing to keep his enterprise a closely-guarded secret among the elite few—those with the time, the money, the connections, and, preferably, a jet to get into the private airport in Bolzano (there are no major airports nearby).

A treatment room

After an indulgent holiday in the south of France and Monaco, I arrived in Merano and could immediately feel my systems start to reset. This was my second time at Espace Chenot—after my first detox, brought on by a bout of empty nest syndrome after my son when off to college, friends wondered if I had gotten liposuction and a facelift. (Disclaimer: these are two procedures I haven’t done—yet.)

After my first stay at Espace Chenot, friends wondered if I had gotten liposuction and a face lift. These are two procedures I haven’t done—yet.

Ask anyone who has been here for a weeklong alcohol-, sugar-, dairy-, meat-, and caffeine-free program and they’ll talk “life-changing shifts” and “body, mind, and soul detoxes” with nary a hint of sarcasm.

Dr. Henri Chenot

During my stay, there were socialites, a fashion designer, couples from the UK, models, a documentary filmmaker, and a princess getting ready for her wedding. But I was the only American—proof that the secret was still holding. Dr. Chenot’s method is one of the most rigorous detox programs in the world, a personalized blend of Western and Eastern practices (all with doctor supervision) with a strict diet to match.


But the torturous aspects are easy to forget against the backdrop of Palace Merano’s beautiful setting in the hills of northern Italy. Imagine the juxtaposition: a lovely harpist accompanies an elegant alfresco dinner, where you’re downing a laxative and being served herbal bouillon. It’s sheer genius—or lunacy, depending on who you ask.

Daily laxatives—with a view.

Apart from the gluttony of my French jaunt, the other reason for my return was an unfortunate incident at a Bruno Mars concert: I was stampeded by a group of overzealous fans and broke my wrist and back. Four months of bedrest had left me with atrophied muscles and a body overloaded with ice cream, antibiotics, and painkillers—this would be great test of Espace Chenot’s efficacy.

After meeting with my scheduler, Olga, we decided on the Detox Diet. Now, I’ll warn you. By days two and three, you’ll feel weak. You’ll have the strangest dreams of your life. It will all start to seem futile. But just surrender yourself to the staff—they’re the real stars of Chenot. Think Austrian efficiency blended with Italian charm, grace, and warmth.

The scalp massage—an absolute must.

Take hydrotherapy, sign up for the seaweed wraps. Enjoy the massage with suction cups that leave no trace. Get the acupuncture treatment with its non-invasive ultrasound needles. Have your blood work and bone density scans done. I also treated myself to incredible facials and scalp massages. Plus, it’s amazing what some downtime spent strolling around the foot of the Dolomites can do for the psyche.

Our group at the end, 30 pounds lighter.

By day four, I was glowing. By day five, my eyes, skin, hair, and body hadn’t felt that way since I was in my twenties. I lost 8 pounds, tightened my skin, got my circulation flowing again. And these results lasted for months. So what’s the moral of this story? That it’s really never too late for a fresh start, and there is nowhere in the states that can do what Dr. Chenot does in this tiny village. The proof is in my size 27 jeans.


This story originally appeared on
* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

View More Articles About:
About The Author
Irena Medavoy
View Other Articles From Irena Medavoy
Latest Stories
The musical reminds us to take some time off and indulge in something good for a change.
From vaccinations to visas-and choosing where to stay-here's a primer for safari newbies.
The 19-carat gem that once belonged to the Oppenheimer family sold for over $50 million.
The CEO of Evident Communications, an integrated marketing and public relations agency, talks about philanthropy and the bright future of digital technology and social media.
A new book details Hughes' tendency to manipulate and deceive the women in his life.
If it weren't for these revolutionary entrepreneurs, the world as we know it, would've been very different.
Plus, the former First Lady reveals the story behind that hug that broke royal protocol.
Say goodbye to your flakes and irritation.
Load More Articles