Lose your strain in Spain

Our Spa Inspector checks out the SHA Wellness Clinic in Altea, Alicante

These days more and more spas are marketing themselves as ‘clinics’. They go beyond pampering services like massage and personal grooming to offer treatments such as in-depth detoxing, weight loss and sleep management. One such is the SHA Wellness Clinic in Spain. It claims to offer true rejuvenation via a combination of natural methods fully backed by medical science. Our anonymous Spa Inspector checked it out…

The place

SHA Wellness is a modern complex on a mountainside in Altea, north of Alicante, a region with one of the world’s best climates. There are lovely Mediterranean vistas from the terraces of each guest suite. In total, the clinic, spa, pools, suites and surrounding greenery take up more than 17,000 sq ft, and with an ambience of quiet discretion, you can lose yourself here in the best possible sense. It is a place to recover and rejuvenate, with five-star surroundings and service.

The symptoms

Basically, burnout. Growing personal and business commitments had left me drained and run-down, anxious and stressed. A change in lifestyle was needed to help me regain control and find a sense of direction.

The treatments

These can be general, such as the SHA Discovery programme (four days of general wellness) or more specific, such as the anti-tobacco and anti-stress programmes. You are assessed on arrival by medical consultants with blood tests and health checks to find out if there are any underlying issues or areas to focus upon. I chose the seven-day anti-stress programme. It gave me an opportunity to pause and reflect and addressed my anxiety and stress issues. Treatments can be added or removed to suit your inclination; I added cryotherapy and hydrotherapy sessions. A morning agenda meeting helps you to feel in control and there are off-site activities such as Nordic walking, which I highly recommend.

The process

The programme aims to relax the mind and body and teach the habits of a healthy lifestyle. It begins with medical and psychiatric consultations, and is tailored to keep you busy all day. First I met a nutritionist and went on a macrobiotic diet, then I began a planned exercise routine. Then came sessions of psychotherapy, mindfulness and acupuncture, and therapeutic treatments such as a deep-tissue massage. On leaving I was given a personalised health plan to help me keep up the good work at home.

The Verdict

I welcomed this opportunity for a full detox and to unplug from modern life. My regime included ‘clean eating’ and it was daunting to give up alcohol and sugar — people under stress often use them as a crutch. But the luxury environment and calm atmosphere made it easier than I had anticipated. Frequent consultations gave me a reassuring sense of the expertise behind my programme and I did not feel boxed in or controlled. It was so varied and personalised that it felt exciting rather than repetitive. It would be hard not to enjoy these world-class treatments in such a beautiful setting.

The medical view

The mental health charity Mind says stress is responsible for 20 per cent of UK sick leave. Tackling your own problems is viewed as a positive step, while psychotherapy and mindfulness have a good evidence base for successful treatment of stress and anxiety.

The Feelgood Factor

The routine at first seemed daunting but I soon felt at ease. I came away with a clear idea of how to adapt my lifestyle once I had to resume my hectic schedule. I felt refreshed and free in my mind. It is equally a wonderful place to simply enjoy a good rest.

The Details

Seven-day anti-stress programme from £2,203 full-board. Mountain-view Deluxe Suites from £256 per night based on two sharing and £201 for individual use. www.shawellnessclinic.com