After spending five days at Switzerland’s Clinique La Prairie, A&E’s Editor In Chief sits down with the CEO to chat through the future of the destination, its unique approach to wellness and its expansion into the rest of the world.
Simone Gibertoni, CEO of luxury wellness clinic Clinique La Prairie, sits down with A&E's Editor In Chief
In a fast-paced, non-stop world, sometimes it seems like time is the ultimate luxury; time to step back, relax, unwind and invest in our overall wellbeing. Things that should be a part of our everyday wellness – nourishing our bodies with a healthy diet, releasing endorphins with physical exercise and taking part in activities that promote mental calm and clarity – are put at the bottom of our to-do list, if they feature at all.
Something that the Clinique La Prairie wellness institute in Switzerland wants to create space for. The only one of its kind, the uber-luxurious resort removes clients from their busy lives and hectic schedules to immerse them in intense programmes designed to soothe, rest and recharge mind, body and spirit.
And after five days experiencing the incredible technologies and hospitality the clinic had to offer, A&E’s Editor In Chief Lara Mansour Sawaya sat down with Clinique La Prairie’s CEO to discover more.
Speaking with Simone Gibertoni, he opened up about his task of growing the luxury clinic and its philosophy by continuing to maintain its exclusivity and unique approach to wellness.
A&E Interviews Simone Gibertoni
Do you think you will grow the concept of Clinique La Prairie around the world?
That’s a very important question and in fact, something we are working on. You told me you found this a very exclusive place and you tried treatments that you haven’t found anywhere else in the world and this is true. We have only 35 rooms but 350 staff, so on average six or seven staff for each guest – you don’t find this anywhere else in the world.
So whatever we are going to do in the future, we have to keep this idea of exclusivity and a customized, tailored service. As you can imagine we always have customers asking “why don’t you create somewhere for two hundred women in the United States?” for example. We are not interested in this.
What we envision in terms of development is basically explained in three different steps. The first is what we call City Hub – once they are back in their own city, we would like our guests to be able to find a place where they can continue to follow the programs from Clinique La Prairie under the guidance of our doctors, coaches, nutritionists etc. We know that despite us trying to do our best in the week while you’re here, in order to sustain it you need to be following a program throughout the year until you come again.
So we are building City Hubs all around the world – this is the first step and we are hoping it will help people live a longer and more healthy life. The second step is that there are technologies that we have developed at La Prairie that you can take with you. So we have created a holistic health campaign, which makes some of the technology that you experience here, available after your stay. The third step is that there are programs that you might want to do more regularly.
So we are thinking about opening three more clinics – one in the United States, one in South East Asia and one in the Middle East. Hopefully, this will allow some of the programs to be available locally to our clients who don’t want to come all the way to Switzerland so regularly.
That’s it – we don’t want to open 200 clinics and the ones we do open will have the same setup – very exclusive and around 40 rooms. This is the only thing we are good in doing and we don’t want to change that. What you receive here cannot be commercialised because the cost is so high and we cannot be anything but exclusive.
What do you think are the main challenges that you face?
In terms of challenges, the first one we have is how can we make potential clients understand what we are. If you look at communication it may seem that we are more or less the same as others, but we know that we are different so we would like to improve the way we tell our clients, or potential clients, that what we do is very different.
The second challenge we have is that with our system you have to care about the medical aspects. Whatever we do, even if you want the most spiritual treatment it has been chosen because of the science behind it and it has to be proven to work. That is how we challenge ourselves with any treatment we provide. It’s about research, development and investment.
The other challenge for us is to promote to people that we are very serious and everything is scientifically proven and our doctors are always behind the work we do. The majority of our clients will have a house bigger than the clinic with a private chef and a private doctor, so when they come here they need to find something unique otherwise they can stay at home. Our challenge is to make these people understand our value and come back to us.
You have customers coming from all around the world – how do you offer something that will cater to everyone?
I always use a matrix of countries and age when I talk about wellness, so the wellness request of someone from China in his thirties is very different from the request of an American of the same age. So we have three big chunks of wellness philosophy – Asian, American and European – they are very different. So the question is how can we ensure these people buy our philosophy and trust us? Skincare is all about credibility our business is even more about how good we are at building this credibility and the fact that we have been here for 90 years shows this.
The bespoke approach is very important to you. What can you tell us about that?
There are a few trends in wellness as you know, but for me, the most important is the bespoke approach, which is more and more linked to genetics. I always say that the future of wellness is going to be a deeper, customized program because we know very well that in genetics there are people that can drink ten coffees for example, but there are people who cannot drink even one because their system is not built for it.
So you can’t tell everyone that to detoxify they shouldn’t drink coffee because that is not true. I believe the future of wellness is going to be more about the customization of the program, starting from genetics. That’s why we are acquiring a genetic company and why all of our programs include a genetic test. The human touch is super important for us so that’s something that will be very difficult for us to balance in the future because many people want to experience technology and artificial intelligence within wellness.
Do you think the fast-paced lifestyle of today is meaning people are missing connecting back to the human touch?
What we often see here is actually people wanting to get away from all this technology and social media that will ruin their lives. So it is true that the human touch should be more and more important. The market would like us to create clinics of 200 or 300 rooms but we do the contrary, we are creating clinics with fewer rooms. This is also why we created the Private Retreat. This Private Retreat is the concept of having a private doctor, chef and nutritionist only for you. This can be for one week or two weeks but it means that all Clinique La Prairie services are available only for you. It is the ultimate in bespoke service and wellness.
How would you describe Clinique La Prairie in one sentence?
This best way to describe the uniqueness is that it is a perfect fusion between medical, wellness and luxury experience. You won’t find this kind of experience anywhere else.
What is the message you want to spread?
The message for us is really our vision and mission. We would like to help our clients live a longer, healthier and better life. We are seeing a lot of people who have everything they want but they are not happy and healthy and so not living the life they want to lead. So when they come here we encourage them to step into a different life. That’s our dream.
Discover more here: cliniquelaprairie.com/en.