VIENNA (AP) — One sleepy little side street in Vienna just got sleepier.
Tucked behind a Gothic church and surrounded by Renaissance-era houses, a new studio is offering deal-makers, movers and shakers and foot-sore tourists respite at a price: a half-hour power nap for 11 euros ($15).
But Reflexia is more than just a place for shut-eye. The establishment's massive arches and thick walls built centuries ago act as if they were made specifically to protect from the outside world, and visitors who cross its threshold are offered soft mood music; a heaping plate of prosciutto with chunky bread; coffee, tea and soft drinks, and a wake-up that is personal — and gentle.
"People know sleep as a need but not as a product," owner Peter Schurin says. "Our task is to change that in some ways."
Schurin describes his establishment as "a fitness center for the spirit," and his business model might be well-timed, even if the Austrian capital is anything but an edgy city that never sleeps.
Most stores here are closed on Sundays. On Fridays, the work day ends at 3 p.m., or earlier, judging from the traffic jams clogging the main arteries out of the city of 1.8 million. In fact, Vienna regularly tops Mercier surveys as the world's most livable city in part because of its outsized calm factor.
At the same time, Austria's status in Europe as an "Island of the Blessed" is being eroded by the kind of work-related stress common to other Western societies.
A study last year involving doctors, unions and employers estimated that stress-related illnesses are costing Austria's economy 7 billion euros — almost $9.5 billion a year — in treatment and absences of its 3.7-million strong work force. Michael Musalek, head of Vienna's Anton Proksch medical institute, says the number of burn-out victims "is steadily growing."