Aindrila Mitra signs up for her first wellness retreat at SHA Wellness Clinic in Alicante and experiences an intensive but rewarding journey. By Aindrila Mitra
I’ll push out the disclaimer up front. I’m no health junkie and the thought of checking into a wellness clinic had never even occurred to me. But when I was invited for an experience at SHA Wellness Clinic in the beautiful port town of Alicante in Spain this summer, I decided it was time to take the dreaded plunge. I was stressed out and losing the rhythm of daily exercise. I could do with a nutritious diet for a few days, considering the trap of binge eating I fall into every time my cortisol levels swing up. I was assigned the Discovery Programme (a four-day schedule) by SHA’s experts, although they recommend the seven- or 14-day programmes to most of their guests to achieve the desired results.
Edijs, the Latvian chauffeur at SHA, welcomes me with a smile at the Valencia airport on a pleasant March evening. SHA Wellness Clinic is situated 150 kilometres away from Valencia. Driving past gorgeous landscapes, crossing the village town of Albir, I finally reach SHA, famished, exhausted and hoping that my decision of checking into a wellness clinic wouldn’t lead to regrets. The clinic has already shared the agenda for my stay, which I can access on the SHA app. It seems intensive, but I have signed up for a short wellness journey, after all.
SHA turns out to be a trip of many firsts for me. I start my day with breakfast at the healthy gastronomy restaurant SHAMADI. Located on Level 4, overlooking the coastal nook of Albir, the eatery is any wellness enthusiast’s dream come true. The menu is inspired by Michio Kushi’s macrobiotic diet (popular in the US), which has a background in Chinese medicine, I am informed by Mario Lopez Pomares, the nutrition and health counsellor at SHA. The food served is based on a traditional Mediterranean diet, but carries a strong Eastern influence. The diet, Lopez claims, “follows the theory of yin and yang”—something that has been used for centuries in Tibet, China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. The ingredients used at SHAMADI are mostly local, seasonal, and organic and the menu is divided into three categories. These include Kushi, which enables weight loss and intensive cleaning of the body. Think small portions and seaweed soups in almost every meal. The Biolight diet, which is what I am prescribed, includes fish and a ‘health dessert’. The last leg of the menu is called SHA; it’s for those who opt for healthy eating with a gourmet focus. A little over a day at the retreat and I begin to feel lighter. The dullness of my skin—caused by frequent long-haul flights and a hectic lifestyle—is fading away.
Another first, and a rather fun one at that, is my cooking session at the chef’s studio. While Mercedes, the natural nutrition coach at SHA, is curious about Indian cereals, I’m amazed at how she makes a kitchen disaster like me prepare a three-course meal with the healthiest ingredients possible—hijiki salad with fake roquefort, leek and watercress soup and colourful lettuce wraps.
The days that follow see a series of therapies roll out—for the mind, body and gut. It starts with the Hydroenergetic Detox Cure. The 50-minute session involves three steps. First, Hydroaromatherapy puts you in a technical tub with essential oils and controlled temperature and pressure, where the body soaks up the oils thanks to the heat; next, the Fitomudtherapy wraps you in seaweed (not recommended if you don’t like the taste of it!), which makes the skin supple; and finally, the Hidrojet cleanses the body of any mud and restores energy with high-pressure water targeting fat-prone zones. By the end of it, I’m awake, aware and scrambling to the next session called Vela Shape—a non-invasive fat-burning procedure. I strip to get into a bodysuit that feels like second skin. Anything that is mildly similar to spandex makes me nervous, so I’m initially uncomfortable, but the treatment relaxes me. After all, who doesn’t like some fat loss without having to sweat it out. The procedure involves the use of radio frequency, infrared light and vacuum technologies that reduce fatty deposits in areas like the thighs, buttocks, waist and abdomen. I’m told that the recommended prescription is three to five sessions at least. Goodbye, love handles!
After a delightful Biolight lunch (try the miso soup!), Ksenia, from St Petersburg, takes me on a short tour. “Our personalised approach is what sets this wellness clinic apart,” she tells me. The clinic has some of the best facilities and trained professionals, including specialist doctors, to ensure that you go back home with the desired results. There are 93 rooms and 11 residences to choose from and the best time to visit is from September to November, Ksenia informs me. SHA is a well-oiled machine, with the guests’ medical consultation given the highest priority. “We have one clear objective: to improve the life and well-being of our guests. We offer health programmes, which are personalised based on every single guest’s objectives and health. These are carefully created to improve health through the fusion of natural and Oriental therapies, and the latest advances in Western medicine, in addition to healthy nutrition,” explains Alejandro Bataller, vice president, SHA Wellness Clinic.
Already feeling lighter, healthier and more balanced, I head for a session of Relaxing Massage in the able hands of Juan Antonio from Alicante. Easing the pressure off every knotted part of my body, untangling the mess that my mind has become thanks to the chaos of city life, the massage helps the stress disappear.
My last day at SHA starts with a private yoga session with Joanna from the US. There’s no better way to start your day than with a dose of hatha yoga. As I end the session gently with a relaxing shavasana, time comes to a standstill and I can feel my chakras in sync. The detox sessions have done wonders for my body and mind. My treatment wraps up with the BDR (Beauty Defect Repair) facial. It’s a shock-impact facial that has a lifting and rejuvenating effect by penetrating the deepest layers of the skin with active agents. I slip into the best outfit in my suitcase to savour the SHA gourmet menu for dinner—the icing on the cake!
As I head back to work after my first wellness retreat, rejuvenated and relaxed, I realise that while it’s okay to be ‘unstoppable’, sometimes, it’s important to know where to stop—for yourself.
Multiple international carriers, including Air France (airfrance.com), fly from Mumbai and Delhi to Paris, from where you can take a connecting flight to Valencia. SHA Wellness Clinic is located in Alicante, a two-hour drive from Valencia airport.
SHA Wellness Clinic has curated a range of treatment plans, and you can choose from the following programmes based on your wellness requirements. All prices exclude accommodation.
Discovery: From INR 1,17,000 for four days
Detox: From INR 2,73,000 for seven days, INR 4,05,000 for 14 days
Weight loss: From INR 2,73,000 for seven days, INR 4, 05,000 for 14 days
Stress management: From INR 2,73,000 for seven days
Sleep recovery: From INR 2,88,000 for seven days
Healthy Ageing for him and her: From INR 5,85,000 for seven days
Essence: From INR 2, 29,000 for seven days
Life Reset: From INR 14,04,000 for 28 days