A hospital with stylish hotel rooms and inspiring views Lisa Oxenham checks in and pushes the reset button…
WHY GO? If you’re wading through mud and desperate for some major headspace, this is the place to go for top-notch pampering. Opened eight years ago SHA Wellness Clinic was created by Alfredo Bataller Parietti, who believed that adopting a macrobiotic diet helped him to overcome health problems that had affected his quality of life for years. He looked into the origin and magnitude of natural therapies leading him to macrobiotic’s world expert Dr Michio Kushi, who then took part in the creation of the SHA method.
This place runs a four, seven or 10-day challenging (but incredibly invigorating) holistic retreat near Alicante in Spain. Although they have a four day programme called “SHA Discovery”, they recommend a minimum stay of seven to 14 days to fully live the SHA experience. The seven-day programmes include SHA Fitness, Anti-Tobacco, Anti-Stress and Rejuvenation. 14 days are highly recommended for packages for the Weight Loss, Detox and SHA Essence Programmes. There is also a 28 days programme called “Life Reset” for those lucky enough to be able to take a month out.
Expect a packed itinerary of macrobiotic meals – the cleansing and healing eating system, enemas and health talks. Perhaps a step too far for many spa-goers, but one that gets spa junkies Gwyneth, Madonna, Minogue and Sting excited – probably because you’ll come skipping out feeling younger, brighter, calmer and happier with a colossal feeling of clear-headedness. SHA is known for its Western science meets ancient Eastern wisdom. This and near-guaranteed sunshine comes together nicely in the rejuvenation programmes.
I’ve come to SHA for all the usual over-cocktailed London reasons: to relax, clear my head, detox and tune into my body. After a consultation of stomach-prodding, tongue-checking and a weigh-in, Dr. Sanders concludes that I’m in good health but recommended theSHA Wellness Rejuvenation Programme over my four day stay, centered on a strict therapeutic meal plan, zen natural therapies like shiatsu, reflexology, deep tissue massage and cranial head massage (all intended to stimulate the self-healing which is often blocked). I was also encouraged to take part in the complementary exercise classes like yoga, meditation and stretching and the macrobiotic cooking workshops that covered energy breakfasts, experimenting with vegetable proteins and how to make healthy pastry (oh yes!). The walk to the lighthouse is also a must. There’s a well-stocked library, a lecture theatre, cinema and a tea lounge with an oxygen bar and if you want to take things further, they also offer cutting-edge cosmetic surgery.
Spa holidays promise big. They pledge to transform not just your surroundings but your very being. The trick is how to make this last past the flight home and that’s what SHA does so well. What you learn while you’re there is so powerfully informative you’ll leave with the tools to make lasting lifestyle changes, and there’s even a follow-up support option via email.
A precious few days that will change your life – just the kind of place that you get addicted to.
WHEN? SHA Wellness Clinic is located in El Albir, Alicante. The area’s pleasantly mild microclimate guarantees a fantastic temperature right through the year, and it has been declared to be one of the places with the best weather in the world by the World Health Organization. Any time of the year is good to come to SHA but I’d recommend the period between March and November.
YOU REALLY MUST…SHA has opened a Cognitive Development Unit run under the supervision of Professor Bruno Ribeiro in which the most up-to-date corroborated scientific knowledge is used and combined with the potential of the latest technology, to evaluate the individual’s mental status and also carry out a series of exercises and activities aimed at developing all the potential stored in their mind. It’s aimed at those suffering from mild memory loss, and executives who want to stay focussed and enhance their brain function. This clinic also specialises in cutting-edge techniques, including the analysis of telomeres (the buffers at the end of chromosomes that protect them from deterioration) to predict life expectancy. Telomeric Length Measurement costs 800€. I wasn’t sure this is something I really wanted to know, but all inspiring stuff. Whether you are healthy or not it’s about making the necessary changes to keep you healthier for longer.
STAY AT…Contemporary and cutting-edge, this space-age hotel is nestled away in Spain’s Sierra Helada mountains. It’s a chic body enclosing a medicinal heart. The Deluxe Suites form harmonious modern architecture, with meandering waterfalls that spills into a huge infinity pool. The rooms are spacious and cool with floors of stone and glass doors that open onto a private terrace with sun loungers. The views are inspiring – looking out to the mountains, SHA is no mean feat but the energy surge is meteoric.
DINE AT…SHA is all about modern macrobiotics, a regime that excludes dairy products, refined foods and red meat in favour of a daily intake of mainly whole cereal grains (such as brown rice, oats and millet), as well as beans, vegetables, some sea vegetables (with the occasional bit of white fish and lobster). In the literature provided I was advised to chew each mouthful until it became liquid. I didn’t find mealtimes hard going at all (apart from my daily breakfast serving of miso soup). I did however find it hard to believe that the desserts were made without sugar or dairy products!
BRING HOME: SHA Wellness Candles, 38Euros smell fresh and Clearspring have a great range of healthy organic snacks, seaweed and Wasabi. They also have an amazing library of health books you can buy – although they’ll be cheaper bought back at home.
BOOK NOW: Alicante is just over two hours flight from the UK and the transfer is just a 40 minute drive to SHA. SHA Wellness Clinic (00 34 966 811199, shawellnessclinic.com) and Monarch Airlines (0871 940 5040, monarch.co.uk), which flies to Alicante from Gatwick, Birmingham, Luton and Manchester. Other airlines flying there include EasyJet (0843 104 5000, easyjet.com) or Jet2 (0871 226 1737, jet2.com). SHA Wellness Clinic (T. 0034 966 811 199 ) offers a 7-day Health Programme from £2,393 (2,980€), including all meals, consultations and treatments. Deluxe room suites start from £273 (340€) per night based on two adults sharing and £221 (275€) per night for individual use. (1 GBP = 1.24€)
INFO: The China Study, Colin Campbell BenBella Books: £9.09, is the biggest study into food in mankind, while Mostly Macro by Lisa Turner Healing Arts Press: £15.99 Amazon Books, The Macrobiotic Way by Michio Kushi Avery Publishing: Amazon Books, £13.99, Modern Day Macrobiotics by Simon G Brown and Dragama G Brown Carroll & Brown Publishers: Amazon Books, £12.99, Macrobiotics for Dummies John Wiley and Sons Ltd £14.99, are all great at explaining macrobiotics and Colon Health by Dr Norman W Walker Norwalk Press, £9.50, and Great Life Diet A Practical Guide to Health, Happiness and Personal Fulfilment by Denny Waxman Pegasus Books, £9.99, are fascinating reading.