The Famous Clinique La Prairie Medical Spa – Memory Lane
by Susie Ellis, SpaFinder Insider
It was 1974 when I first heard about Clinique la Prairie. I had just begun working at the famous Golden Door spa in southern California and would occasionally hear guests whisper about the sheep cell injection therapy at this expensive place in Switzerland. Our Golden Door guests, who at that time included mostly wives of corporate executives, celebrities, and an occasional royal, were fond of comparing notes on other spas they had heard about. In those days, however, most did not spa-hop, they stayed true to the one they had chosen. Names I remember included the Greenhouse in Dallas, Elizabeth Arden’s Maine Chance in Phoenix (no longer in existence), the Lancaster Beauty Farm at Brenner’s Park in Germany, Champney’s in England and Clinique La Prairie in Switzerland. None of them used the term spa at the time.
In later years I ran across photos from the famous Clinique La Prairie – medical setting, doctors in white lab coats, guests dining or lounging in chaises, and a lake and the Alps in the background. I would learn that well known “patients” included Marlene Dietrich, Charlie Chaplin, and Winston Churchill.
There are those who are ardent proponents of Clinique La Prairie’s “revitalization therapy” as it came to be called. There are those who call it quackery.
I am not qualified to pass judgement since I don’t have the scientific or medical background. However from a purely common sense point of view, I find it hard to imagine a place that has been open for more than 75 years, where people from all over the world return time after time and pay $18,000 a week to stay there, not to have something pretty compelling.
The La Prairie skin care products seem to have taken a slightly different path. They had (and still do, I believe) a very good reputation. Clearly they carry the prestige, cachet, and high price of the Clinique La Prairie establishment where the products were created. I remember wondering if there were sheep cells in the products. Apparently not.
In the past few years, however, I have come across many people who told me that La Prairie skin care products have nothing to do with Clinique La Prairie in Switzerland. I have often wondered, how did that happened?
Spas also began appearing with the name La Prairie in them. Are they associated with Clinique La Prairie? My list of questions keeps getting longer and I looked forward to visiting this famous place in Switzerland to finally unscramble the mystery.
- Why do the department stores sell La Prairie products but say they don’t have anything to do with the Swiss Clinique?
- Why does the La Prairie logo say Switzerland when it doesn’t have anything to do with the facility in Switzerland?
- Why is there a La Prairie Spa at the Ritz in New York that insists they also don’t have any affiliation with Clinique La Prairie in Switzerland, however they sell La Prairie products.
- There is a La Prairie Spa at the Ritz in Berlin and a new one opening at the Ritz in Rancho Mirage. I assume they will be selling La Prairie skin care products but also deny involvement with the Swiss Clinic.
- Why is there a La Prairie Spa at the Beverly Hilton, when all the other ones are at Ritz Carlton’s?
- Why a spa with yet another name….the stunning new spa in Grand Cayman with the name, The Rain La Prairie Spa, at the Ritz Carlton.
- There is a project on the drawing board in Miami called Ten Museum Park. It is a beautiful high rise residential building that will have according to their website, “the first Clinique La Prairie Spa.” This spa will not carry La Prairie products – they will be using a line called Swiss Perfection.
- Later I read that Clinique La Prairie is suing Ritz Carlton over the use of the name La Prairie for their spa in New York.
Is all of this clear as mud?
Well…finally I can say it is pretty clear in my mind although it took a visit to Switzerland, and countless hours of Internet research to solve most of the puzzle. I have put together the answers and a timeline which I will share with you in the next post.
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