SHA Wellness Clinic Review: The pursuit of wellness
- SHA Wellness Clinic is widely regarded as one of the most luxurious wellness retreats in the world
- Located just outside Alicante in Spain, previous guests include Naomi Campbell and Kylie Minogue
- SHA aims to give guests the ultimate wellness experience, including food, fitness and a variety of holistic treatments ranging from Chinese medicine to cryotherapy
For you I will recommend the colonic,” says the doctor, writing down her thoughts on the serious-looking medical document in front of her. “It’s very good for increasing your energy and makes the digestive system more effective.”
I have a few mantras in life, and one is to try absolutely everything at least once. But then again, another is not to let a doctor go rooting around the part of the body which the invitation to kiss is often made rhetorically.
“I will also recommend some vitamin injections,” she says, smiling. I smile back, but there is no joy in my eyes. Only the cold, dead stare of a man who has a worrying decision to make.
I am sat in a consultation room at SHA Wellness Clinic, near the coastal city of Alicante, Spain. Widely regarded as one of the world’s premiere spa hotels (although don’t let the staff hear you call it that, they only ever refer to it as a ‘clinic’), it attracts the likes of Naomi Campbell, Kylie Minogue and other A-listers who all too often need to get away from the busy life of being a celebrity.
Regular people come here too, mainly to soak up the Spanish sun, eat healthily and engage in a variety of holistic treatments ranging from Chinese medicine to cryotherapy. It’s basically the poshest detox in the world, where green shakes are replaced with nutrient-rich foods plated in a fine-dining style, and instead of a gym you get an army of personal trainers.
The first day at SHA is the busiest, as I’m ushered around the property for a barrage of consultations with doctors, nutritionists, health counselors and experts in holistic healing. After that, I receive a custom-made Wellness Agenda. Mealtimes are set—with individual menus prepared according to the nutritionist’s recommendations—and there are lots of massages, health lectures, cooking courses, mindfulness classes, yoga and, ahem, ‘specialist treatments’ (yes, I’m talking about colonic irrigation).
The strangest of these treatments involved a bath, a high-pressure hose, and a small pair of disposable pants. Another involved strapping electrodes to my belly before a specialist rolled an incredibly hot metal gun-like device across my face. I’m sure each had a specific benefit, indeed SHA did attempt to educate me on exactly why they were engaging in what some might deem torturous activities, but I was more concerned with ensuring my bathrobe was tied correctly (it was).
Indeed, the humble bathrobe is very much en vogue at SHA. Most people you see on your steady trips from room to treatment clinic to restaurant will be wrapped in one. You’ll spot the odd pair of yoga pants and t-shirts (those coming from the gym) but outside of the evening (when the restaurant insists guests at least put on a pair of trousers) it’s all I wore for a good five days.
I am here for a crash course in wellness, but most people visit SHA for two weeks or more. During that time there’s no caffeine, sugary drinks or snacks of any kind. The food is delicious, a modified Mediterranean diet with emphasis on grains, vegetables and legumes, but meat and dairy is strictly prohibited. As a card-carrying carnivore, I thought giving up all meat and dairy might have been a challenge. Fortunately for my stomach, the food is great (and more importantly filling).
Speaking of my troublesome tum, one of the benefits of being in a place where every piece of food that goes in down your gullet has been weighed and approved by a nutritionist is you lose weight. Quite quickly, to be honest. It’s seems the secret recipe for weight loss is to eat quite a lot of things that are good for you, don’t have any of the stuff that is bad for you, exercise, get enough sleep and, of course, belly electrodes. Who knew?
Elsewhere, the resort boasts some truly spectacular rooms and suites (most notably, an entire new wing of residences). My room had a large-sized living room and a gargantuan balcony that provided ample picture opportunities of the sun going down behind the mountains beyond.
Children—like caffeine —are strictly forbidden at SHA, which is where the residences come in. Each is roomy enough for two bedrooms, a large outdoor area (some with barbecues) and private pool. It lets the grown-ups head into SHA for treatments, while the kids enjoy themselves at home.
But back to the matter at hand. “Ah, well, you see Doc,” I splutter, “the thing is, I’m a little late for my acupuncture session...” and with a swish of a bathrobe, I was gone.