Smile, but don’t say cheese: my first experience at a luxury spa

Rooftop waterfall - SHA Wellness Clinic

Rooftop waterfall - SHA Wellness Clinic

It was almost 9 years ago that I stopped frequenting fast food joints. Yet after my first night at the plush SHA Wellness Clinic in southern Spain the thought of a McBreakfast did briefly enter my head. How could this make any sense? We had just spent a night at one of the most luxurious places I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit. The setting could not have been further from that of a greasy fast food joint if it had been on the other side of the moon. Let me explain…

SHA Wellness Clinic - On the rooftop

On the rooftop

SHA is located above the town of Albir, around 60 km from Alicante and only a short drive from Benidorm. In fact you can see the skyscrapers of the popular holiday resort rise from the morning mist as you lounge on the rooftop. SHA has the obligatory infinity pool which comes complete with a waterfall, and also on the roof you’ll find a putting green, another pool and a view down to an adjacent tennis court. And the next to these, the highly prestigious restaurant.

The view from the SHA roof toward Benidorm

The view from the SHA roof toward Benidorm

Ok, we’re getting back to food again. One of SHA’s unique features is the importance it puts on healthy eating. Alfredo Bataller, the founder of the resort, was converted to the school of macrobiotic diets when he was seriously ill and found no respite from traditional western medicine. In a short time, a change in his diet following macrobiotic principles produced a rapid recovery. He decided to build SHA to offer these benefits to others.

So there we were, on the first leg of a press trip to the Valencia, in care of Alfredo’s son Alejandro who recalled this story as we sat down to our first meal. The evening meal was superb. Various combinations of vegatables, root-based soups and a delicious tuna steak. For dessert the ginger ice-cream was so delicious that I could have sneaked into the kitchen, tied up the chef and devoured the entire stock of this home-made marvel. And as for the chocolate cake? One spoon into its heart and a dark molten chocolate oozed from its centre. The sublime taste is not something that I will forget in a hurry.

It was the breakfast was a shock to my system. There were steamed vegatables, miso soup and even small cakes on offer. There was however a lack of any trace of dairy produce. No cheese, and more importantly, no milk. Well, that’s not quite true. Have you ever tried your cornflakes soaked in almond milk or rice milk? Perhaps it takes some getting used to. I decided that this healthy living could be hard going.

SHA Wellness Clinic in bloom

SHA Wellness Clinic in bloom

It was set in this context that when 30 minutes later we drove past those ubiquitous golden arches in the town, for a fleeting moment I had a pang. I did not succumb and it soon passed, but the episode confirmed to me that I have some way to go before I can embrace a macrobiotic diet and the lack of meat and diary products that it entails.

As for the resort itself, if you’re after a total escape from everyday life the SHA is hard to beat. Spacious bedrooms, walkways with soothing music and tinkling waterfalls and a room that had surely been treated to a generous helping of feng shui. I felt utterly at peace during the 20 minutes we had between our arrival back at the hotel and our departure for dinner.

The attention to detail of the designers is evident in every feature of the guest rooms and of the public areas. They have succeeded in creating an environment of peace, calm and relaxation. In fact, it could be a setting in one of those weird sci-fi movies, set in the future and representing a utopia where each of the life’s causes of misery and discomfort has been eliminated. But then again, I wasn’t paying the bill.

The infinity pool and beyond

The infinity pool and beyond

It is one of those places that was a real shame to leave behind after only two nights. It might not be the type of place I would choose for a personal holiday (it is, after all, more used to hosting the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Naomi Campbell). But if you are looking for a few days of healthy indulgence and total relaxation and are prepared to shell out a few euros to be pampered in the most tranquil surroundings, the SHA Wellness Clinic is hard to beat.

For my stay at SHA Wellness Clinic I was a guest of Land of Valencia, the Valencia Region Tourist Board as part of their #blogtripf1 event, with flights organised by the Spanish Tourist Office.

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2 Responses to “Smile, but don’t say cheese: my first experience at a luxury spa”

  1. Arantxa #

    it’s true Sha is ,itself,an experience different, maybe a bit shocking, but recommended for those that would like to try a different way of life, a particular lifestyle concept based mainly in healthy habits.
    Loved sharing this tríp with you as part of #blogtripf1.

    August 13, 2010 at 2:28 pm Reply
  2. Thanks Arantxa, it was great to spend the time with you and all the #blogtripf1 folks. I loved our stay at the SHA and agree it is great for those who want a complete change of environment and lifestyle. And that dinner was so good.
    I did realise how much I rely on dairy and/or meat for my perfect breakfast though.

    August 13, 2010 at 3:03 pm Reply

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