SHA Wellness Clinic Spain spa review

Set the scene

A stroll away from the shores of the Mediterranean, near Alicante, in southern Spain and surrounded by the Sierra Helada Natural Park, SHA Spain guarantees visitors a dollop of clean air and healing sunshine alongside the many holistic and medical treatments. The first SHA Wellness Clinic (Mexico and the Emirates are coming in 2023 and 2024 respectively), it offers a totally integrated wellness package from food to fitness, dentistry to detox, preventative medicine to cognitive healthy ageing, natural therapies to cognitive and emotional wellbeing. SHA’s high percentage of repeat guests bodes well for the efficacy of its treatments: guests come for their annual MOT or to lose those folds of fat that have built up over the year. This is a much-loved spot for time-poor business folk for whom the strictest 900-calorie menu gives immediate results with minimal suffering. It is also a place where the rich and famous feel safe to come and go unnoticed, cloaked in white dressing gowns like the rest of the guests. It is almost like a parallel world, with those surrounding you on the inside bound together by the intent to achieve a better self.

What’s the backstory?

The concept for SHA Wellness Clinics was born from the ill health of founder Alfredo Battaller Perietti, who noticed that eating specific foods cured certain ailments, and was keen to share his discovery. He went on to develop this integrative medical clinic which combines scientific and natural medicine with healthy and healing nutrition. Perietti remains very hands on, and has now been joined by his sons as they work on expanding the brand to Mexico, the Emirates and elsewhere in Europe in due course. The excellent doctors and therapists include Dr Mera, who consults in healthy ageing, Dr Gonzalez-Bonilla, a brilliant Guatemalan dentist; Dr Dalbos, an elegant French aesthetic doctor; and Dr Ribeiro, who specialises in neurocognitive assessments.

What’s the wellness concept?

This is a destination spa, a whole wellness world or a one-stop shop, allowing you to fix your smile whilst losing some weight or detoxing. That, more than anything, is its strength. SHA Spain doesn’t have one USP but many, offering visitors a chance to really fix anything that comes up through treatments and assessments while here. The food, also, is amazingly good and it will be a surprise to some that macrobiotic food can be so delicious and never leave you hungry.

What are the signature treatments?

You must commit to one of the five programmes (Rebalance; Healthy ageing; Optimal weight and advanced detox combined; Optimal weight and, lastly, Advanced detox) when booking your stay. But, once here, you can go à la carte and add things on to your programme. Obviously, in the case of pregnancy or illness, treatments need to be tailor-made for you. There are no specific cancer doctors but the advanced detox or cleansing the body of harmful chemotherapy chemicals would be highly beneficial for those who have just been through cancer treatments.

Which therapist should I book?

Start with a general doctor who can point you in the direction of the right people to help you after hearing your problems and listening to your wishes. Speaking to Dr Bruno Ribeiro is fascinating as he looks at the health of your brain, from testing its tiredness to, more seriously, even seeing if you may have a predisposition to Alzheimer’s. He also practises transcranial stimulation (a non-invasive, magnetic form of brain stimulation). It is, though, worth advance booking a few treatments you already know you want, to ensure availability. Ozone therapy is particularly popular, due to its energising properties. Colonic irrigation is a general treatment that benefits many (ask for Gemma).

What makes it different?

So many of the destination spas in Europe focus on one thing or another rather than the whole overarching view, which is what makes SHA Spain different. It also has the latest equipment, gadgets and expertise, with doctors from all over the world knocking at its door. Until recently, its biggest minus was not doing blood testing on site, but that is now being changed and results are through in a matter of hours. 

What else do they offer?

Try cooking classes here to learn something about the life-changing macrobiotic cuisine you’ve tried, with some really good tips on how to bring home what you learn about food at the clinic. For example, to drink apple cider vinegar before each meal, and to start the day with miso soup which lines your stomach with nutrients. Class topics vary, from superfoods to healthy pastries. There are talks on subjects from how to strengthen your immune system to mindful eating. There are films, nightly, in the on-site cinema. Or head out and try hiking in the surrounding mountains, walks to the beach, jogging on the beach or Nordic walking. Fitness fanatics have a well-equipped gym, personal trainers and endless possibilities from kickboxing to paddle tennis. To help complete your feeling of transformation, there is a hair salon, and beauty treatments are available.

Where do you stay?

Rooms are functional rather than fancy, but are perfectly comfortable and the housekeeping team is excellent. Some have terraces with a jacuzzi, but there is a main pool for all on the rooftop of the building. Bedrooms come with private bathrooms, with showers rather than baths. All come equipped with weighing scales.

Anything else to mention?

Spas are much harder than hotels to get a feel for before arriving, but this one is truly groundbreaking, with its enormous range of facilities and treatments and superb food. There is little wonder that there are so many repeat guests. Many are women here on their own, who feel looked after and cared for.

Final word

Add a day to how long you might think you want to spend here on your first visit: it can take that long to find out who you want to see and get an appointment fixed during your stay. Nothing is more frustrating than being told you need a treatment, but they can’t fit you in whilst you are there. For this reason, the second visit is always much more time-efficient than the first.

Healing Holidays (healingholidays.com/condenast; 020 7843 3592) can arrange a 4-night Rebalance & Energise programme from £2,849 per person sharing, including transfers, full board accommodation and inclusions of the programme.

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