There’s no denying that medical tourism and in particular, medical wellness, is a booming business. Seekers are now tempted more than ever to skip the basic getaway weekend or a five-star holiday to a remote place when offered a retreat that allows the vacation bit, but also a focus on self-improvement.
SHA Wellness (an hour drive from Alicante Airport in Spain, along the Costa Blanca coast in Playa Del Albir) has been at the forefront of this revolution for over a decade now, thanks to the vision and passion exuded by President and Founder Alfredo Bataller and the SHA team he’s put together. It’s no surprise then to hear that the celebrity renowned Spanish clinic will be expanding to two new locations — the first being in Cancun, Mexico, in 2021 — which will be followed by the Middle East in 2023. So what makes the SHA formula work so well? In my opinion, SHA Wellness is an aspiration.
Many aspire to become better version of themselves here, while others simply aspire to just be able to spend a few days in such a beautiful environment. The latter is a no-brainer as the clinic is perched on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea near the Balearic Islands in coastal Spain. The beautiful five-star feel medical resort seems to marry two elements that I preach and follow on a daily basis — holistic therapy and a disciplined lifestyle. Beautifully wrapped with a luxury bow, SHA is probably the best example I’ve seen for providing pampering alongside real, life-changing treatment.
Their 360-degree SHA Method approach is a great first step for new wellness seekers and also a great pitstop along the longer road towards sustained well-being for regulars. SHA is the brainchild of founder President Alfredo Bataller Parietti, an Argentina-born Spanish businessman, and has its origins in his own experience battling chronic diseases all his life, including an early stage colon cancer. After conventional therapies failed to help, he met a naturopathic doctor who used a combination of macrobiotic lifestyle and other natural therapies to cure him, apparently in weeks.
Macrobiotics is a diet lifestyle that draws from Japanese Zen Buddhism’s concept of Yin and Yang, and emphasises the consumption of natural, organic and locally-grown food with very little animal products. Parietti set up SHA in 2008 on the advice of Michio Kushi, a Japanese scholar and a disciple of Macrobiotics founder, George Ohsawa. Kushi, who popularised the concept around the world, advised Parietti to set up a clinic that would treat people and their ailments using a combination of western medicine and Eastern healing methods. As a result, central to all the therapies offered at SHA is the idea that all illness, big and small, are the result of the imbalance between mind and soul, and hence there’s an overt stress on ‘rebalancing’ in many of the treatment programmes. While mine was a short trip (I recommend at least a seven or ten-day stay to genuinely experience the property and every aspect of the clinic), my journey was filled with unique treatments that, for me, cleansed my mind, healed my body and inspired my soul. As a seasoned pro to this world, my focus is always first on the doctors/healers who offer to challenge my knowledge base and then trying therapies that I’ve never heard/ done before anywhere.
SHA offered ample on both ends. It goes without saying that the treatments offered were first-rate, but no single treatment would have had the same impact if not recommended and explained to me by an expert team of doctors who, knowing my history and taking the time to get to know me, could recommend the appropriate course. One of the standout features at SHA experience the property and every aspect of the clinic), my journey was filled with unique treatments that, for me, cleansed my mind, healed my body and inspired my soul. is just this: seasoned doctors and therapists are more than just talking heads for pre-set, pre-packaged programmes.
The medical team took their time to understand me and my needs. From an initial consult with a nurse and general M.D. physician who discussed with me my short and long-term goals, I was then suggested a course of integrative therapies that would focus on delivering what I was most seeking. While for many the clinic is the ideal detox center or weight-loss clinic, what I most valued about SHA was seeing that the focus was far more holistic than a simple need, and the 360 SHA method made sure to work on all of me.
Unlike many other medical resorts I’ve visited, SHA Wellness is a bit more clinical in feel and in their structure, so you do feel a bit more patient-like. But the level of customisation they encourage helps to combat this feeling. Treatment programs can often seem homogenised elsewhere and I was most impressed that SHA took that extra step to make the experience feel personal. The time you spend with the programme coordinator to schedule all the sessions is time well spent as you gain exposure to areas of treatments, types of therapy and a lot that you’d not really know about. If there’s anything I’ve learned about health in the many years as a medical health consumer, it is that individuals are far more likely to improve and stay on their own correct path when they are a part of the decisionmaking process every step of the way. One lovely example is the dining hall. SHA Wellness serves an all-vegan menu filled with organic ingredients and utilising many macrobiotic principles.
What I loved was that despite the fact that the menus were prepared and the portions were preset, we were given menus. And even if we knew what our meal was going to be — to know and understand what we are eating, how it is prepared and alongside what — are small points that helped create a feeling of involvement in the cooking process, as opposed to just feeling obliged to eat whatever is presented. For many, they can pick and choose a bit and if there are specific requests, guests can speak to the nutritionist about what works and what doesn’t. Having this freedom gives guests a winning combination of finding what is healing but also learning how to continue such a lifestyle at home. This holistic approach also worked incredibly well with the physical fitness programs that SHA presents. The “gym” part isn’t a scary, isolated proposition. It was such a pleasure to work with trainers who are aware of your health conditions, your treatment plans and your overall lifestyle goals. As a result, they work to improve your routine both during your stay and beyond. This in itself was probably one of the most impressive aspects of SHA Wellness for me. The integration of wellness and alternative treatments alongside practical information for diet and fitness is so paramount for long-term wellness, I truly applaud the team for focusing so intently on every aspect of the individual. Having said that, I’d like to highlight just a few treatments that range in style, effect and healing to specifically emphasise how a personally curated trip to SHA can be exactly what you want it to be and so much more.
WATSU WATER THERAPY
Originally developed in the US in the 80’s, the Watsu treatment was something I had only heard about, but never experienced myself. Combining gentle stretch movements with Eastern acupuncture and Shiatsu massage, this sounds amazing enough. But imagine you are floating in 34-degree Celsius water as this is happening. Under the guidance of a trained water therapist, the 50-minute treatment is like no other, helping to decompress the spine, stimulate the joints and help to stretch muscles without much impact. It’s truly a therapy like no other.
HYDEROENERGETIC CURE DETOX
This is a powerful 1-2-3 punch hydrotherapy treatment. The detox treatment begins with a 15-minute soak in the hydromassage tub with essential oils meant to soak into the body through the heat of the water, aimed to soothe and purify. This is followed by their fito-mud therapy session, which is a seaweed wrap that helps to drain and detox the body the many toxins caught between the interior and exterior layers of the skin. The treatment concludes with Hidrojet treatment which helps to restore energy and tone the body. An overall exhaustive treatment all in the span of an hour, you leave feeling refreshed and truly lighter.
SHA PSAMMO THERAPY
The Psammo treatment (hot sand treatment) is a healing technique traditionally used in ancient Egypt to reduce inflammation, muscle pains and help to calm anxiety. This therapy works effectively today, relaxing the body, but also creating tranquility between the body and the mind. This is aided additionally as the masseur uses quartz compresses and sound healing techniques. At 75 minutes long, this is a signature treatment not to be missed. While these are just a sampling from an otherwise expansive catalogue of sessions, SHA Wellness has developed a reputation for state-of-the-art treatments that have helped for it to become one of the most beloved wellness clinics in the world. With international celebrities and numerous global leaders visiting the clinic regularly in search of new therapies, the clinic has been branching out into areas that include cognitive development, with treatments such as brain photobiomodulation and transcranial direct current stimulation, garnering much attention by researchers and institutes alike to help patients fight depression and anxiety to migraines and brain damage. Additionally, they are becoming pioneers of genomic and preventive medicine, offering seekers an opportunity to understands their genetic predispositions and having immediate prevention paths. All in all, SHA Wellness has set itself apart because of its 360-degree holistic approach. Rather than shy away from embracing new treatments and medicinal approaches, they’ve welcomed it, thus offering educated guests more options as they find their own individual paths to wellness. There’s no doubt in my mind that their winning formula will reach out to many seekers as they expand to Mexico, the Middle East and beyond.