SHA Wellness Clinic review
A chic macrobiotic spa in Spain
The Quick Read: SHA is a destination spa on the Mediterranean just north of Alicante, with a strong focus on macrobiotic cooking and a dedicated medical wing offering treatments for anti-aging, insomnia and stopping smoking, aesthetic procedures such as liposuction without surgery, skin laser treatments and cosmetic dentistry. The place is beautiful, perched above the lacklustre town of El Albir, so all you see from the rooftop relaxation area is the Mediterranean coast beyond. It’s a relaxing place to detox, lose weight, learn about macrobiotics and soak up sunshine – even at times of the year when the UK has nothing but frost.
More on the wellbeing programmes: Specific programmes include detox, weight loss, smoking withdrawal, anti-stress, rejuvenation and fertility, all of which involve clinic oversight, a personalised treatment plan and recommended length of stay, sometimes up to two weeks. For the less committed there are three general plans, for 2, 4 and 7 days respectively – read a word from the queen on her stay – all including taster beauty treatments such as massages, a general medical check up and recommended diet plan and unlimited use of the facilities. Then there are aesthetic programmes: you can focus entirely on rejuvenating your hands, if you wish…
More on the wellbeing activities: The hydrocircuit is open all day for guests and is one of the highlights of the spa: a different jet to pummel every possible aching muscle, a sauna with glass wall views onto an enclosed lawn, underwater loungers with massaging sprays – you could spend all day here. There’s also an indoor pool.
There is a rotating schedule of guest experts, from meditation experts to purveyors of all kinds of strange and wonderful therapies. The regular treatments are excellent too, ranging from seaweed wraps (€130 for 50 minutes) to a series of massages (mostly around €125 (£105) for 50 minutes) that are well worth it: try the shiatsu for a totally restorative experience.
The personal trainers are very good and can also accompany you on private activities, such as walking or cycling or guide you through a workout in the fitness room. You can go walking alone in the nearby national park or by the beach, or just join the group activities, which range from early morning Nordic walking or Pilates in the dedicated studio to mid-afternoon macrobiotic cookery lessons and early evening tai chi. (These change daily.) Some of these, inevitably, are better than others. If all this – or extracurricular possibilities such as diving or jet skiing – feels too energetic, head to the bar for herbal teas and a book from the substantial library. After dinner, there is often a pianist or a dance class in here, too.
More on the property: The spa is exceptionally beautiful – white marble, rising in tiers with greenery washing over the sides, it consists of five buildings linked on the fourth floor, where the restaurant offers views of the Mediterranean and the sun-worshippers on the terrace outside. The SHA Academy is a library containing a wealth of knowledge to absorb, and there’s an infinity pool that looks over the town and the mountains. The space is so large and unconventionally laid out that there is room for both conviviality and privacy.
More on the bedrooms: Bedrooms range from Deluxe, which actually is deluxe, with double bed and decent-sized living room – there seems little reason to go higher, except for a kitchen rather than a dressing room, which some Superior suites offer. If you have a bit of extra cash, spend it on a private Jacuzzi on the balcony, preferably with a sea view – the views are really superb.
Food & drink: There’s a three-tier menu with European-Japanese fusion food: Kushi, with small portions, lots of seaweed (but fish only once a week) and little in the way of carbs; Biolight, an intermediate menu which, for the less rigorous, mixes and matches nicely with the SHA menu – the full gourmet experience. All menus changed completely at every meal and all were dairy and meat free and reasonably macrobiotic – so, no tomatoes or potatoes, but fish and carbs for those who want them, supplemented by prescribed teas and juices. Much of the produce is grown on site in their own organic garden. There were some real winners – superb sushi, great soups, homemade bread and a wonderful mushroom risotto – but also times when the restriction on spice of any kind felt cruel, and a couple of pasta dishes that seemed to prioritise the carbs over any kind of accompaniment.
Fellow guests: Mostly middle-aged or older, presumably well-heeled, pretty quiet. This is a place to go inward. There are a lot of overheard conversations about food regimes!
What’s lowly: There are plans for a much bigger fitness complex and more classes, but until they appear, SHA’s focus is skewed a little too far towards what you put in your mouth.
Costs: From €230/290 (£190/240) (single/double) per room per night for a Deluxe Suite; Superior Suite €450/550 (£375/455); Grand Suite for up to 4 people €750 (£623); Presidential €2500 (£2100); Royal suite €6000 (£4980), which includes VIP airport transfer, personal butler suffer and chauffeured limousine. Sea view is €40 (£33)/day, private balcony Jacuzzi €50 (£42)/day. Breakfast is €25 (£21)/day, half board €75 (£62), full board €125 (£104). If you are doing a programme, meals will be included in that price.
Reviewed by Nina Caplan
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