Spanish therapy: Inside the SHA-mazing wellness clinic celebs love in Spain
The exclusive SHA Wellness Clinic offers cures for ailments you don't even know you have.
Set the mood
For the past decade, celebs have been flocking to the Costa Blanca's pioneering SHA Wellness Clinic. Staff at the mountaintop retreat are tight-lipped about the stars availing of services that integrate nutrition, medical innovation and natural therapies, but a quick online search suggests names like Kylie Minogue, Naomi Campbell and Gwyneth Paltrow.
If reports are to be believed, even a certain Vladimir Putin has checked in to detox.
Fusing ancient Eastern philosophy and cutting-edge Western techniques, guests at SHA - including yours truly - are required to follow a strict macrobiotic diet. Say goodbye to alcohol, sugar, caffeine and meat, but more positively, to the pounds you've been battling to shed since Christmas.
There are few treatments you'll regret doing at SHA, but there's one you'll regret not doing - a Watsu massage. With origins in Japanese Shiatsu, this magical, 50-minute underwater experience (offered for individuals or couples) is a therapy like no other. In addition to its meditative qualities, Watsu is so disarming that it promotes a strong, emotional reaction - be prepared to shed a tear or two!
It's no surprise that a clinic of this standing boasts a programme teeming with choice - from the weight-shifting Indiba Body to the rejuvenating BDR facial. However, a tip of the hat goes to its 'revitalising medicine services' - notably, Ozone Therapy.
Simply put, a nurse drew blood from my arm, mixed it with oxygen in a drip, and injected it back into me. Lasting just under 20 minutes and costing €150 a pop (or prick, in this case) this not-as-scary-as-it-sounds procedure provided me with an immune boost and a glorious new lease of life!
Lots of free group activities are organised, including yoga, Nordic walks, aqua-gym, film screenings and chi kung - a holistic practice incorporating movement, breathing and meditation. SHA's practitioners also provide individual sessions across these and other disciplines, such as mindfulness and pranayama breathing, that equip guests with simple yet invaluable life tools - like paying attention to the here and now, or remembering to inhale, particularly during moments of panic or chaos.
Try climbing the steep 166 metres to Alicante's magnificent Castell de Santa Bárbara and enjoy the sweeping views of the city and Mediterranean sea. Elsewhere in the city, Soho Parc (sohoalicante.com), a central bar underneath an ancient tree, is the perfect place to undo all your good work!
A strict diet is effortless when meals are being rustled up by some of Spain's finest chefs. However, attempting this cuisine back home mightn't produce similar results. Take one of SHA's informative cookery classes or pick up its brilliant recipe book in the boutique.
Get me there
Located close to the town of L'Albir on Spain's Costa Blanca, SHA provides transfers to and from Alicante and Valencia airports, which are 62 and 150 kilometres away respectively (fly with Ryanair or Aer Lingus).
The four-day, full-board SHA Discovery Programme gives an excellent overview of the clinic's approach and costs €1,250 per person, excluding accommodation, which starts from €310 per night. See shawellnessclinic.com for more.