If you were to land at the Spanish airport of Alicante and go northeast on the black band on the highway bounded on both sides by brown, barren landscapes, you would eventually come across L & # 39; Albir, a small, non-descript beach town that could exist anywhere else in Europe, dotted with souvenir shops and some eateries with plastic cloths over thin fabrics. It is an unlikely place for Europe's jet-set to unwind, except for the fact Sha Wellness Clinic, an elite holistic health center and spa, is on its outskirts. My taxi driver makes a sharp turn away from the beach and spins through plaster walls with steady incline until we stop abruptly. Directly ahead: a waterfall that tastes delicious over three silver letters: SHA.
A striking series of white buildings rise up on cliff-like stairs. To the left: the portal to the complex. The silent glass doors open as I walk in and feel like a buzzing strawberry who has stumbled into some untouched world order where pedestrians like tennis shoes and undereye bags are not there. Inside, between the glass walls, glossy floors and dark, silent corridors, facials, massages and wellness tune-ups take place (the menu reveals alternatives such as underwater massage, electro-lymphatic drainage and shiatsu). But this is not a "treat yourself" spa. Doctors in fortified white robes walk in the corridors at a clip, which goes to and from consultations and assignments with clients.
My breakfast costume is a big piece of fabric and a little bit else – most of Sha & # 39; s clientele walk around the spa's (of course white) bathrobe and slippers, only dressed in real clothes at dinner, where required. I am served fresh vegetable juice, miso soup with a lemon slice, turmeric-and-cardamom oatmeal, a (gluten-free, sugar-free) chocolate-and-almond roll and a slice of tempeh. It's far from my usual very processed, very gluten-free breakfast, but it is delicious, and panoramic views of the ocean from Sha's dining area can make everything seem tasty.
The next few days are a cornucopia of hourly meetings: a private yoga session, a general health examination, a nutrition consultation, a neurocognitive evaluation consultation, an acupuncture, a deep tissue massage, a "therapeutic prescription" cooking course. It is Utopia for the health set. Every single aspect of your holistic health is measured and considered both quantitatively and qualitatively by medical experts, and you are prescribed a proper measure to optimize that aspect of your well-being. Although they offer anti-tobacco, weight control and stress management programs, I am here for the Discovery program, which allows neophytes to indulge in a sampling of Sha's offerings for a few days. As one of the few millennials at the spa (probably due to an affordable value of € 1,500 to € 7,500 a week at Sha) and a frequent flyer at both my acupuncture office and my local barre studio, I expected to wind my entire life medical duties. I did not.
Every doctor got serious when they asked me a battery of questions. I'm too young, they said, to report the symptoms of fatigue they saw. My massage therapist, a man from the Balkan Peninsula with a bodybuilder's bodybuilding, struggled to fight with my jerky shoulders and back. Another doctor warned that if I don't sleep more and stress less, I can expect serious health complications along the way. "You have to be very strong," she said, "but you can't keep doing it for yourself."
There are, of course, more spa-like moments: a microcurrent on the face, a clay-mask body treatment administered in a specially heated bed. But I was still on the clock writing and editing and waking up early to take advantage of Sha & # 39; s sunrise tours, one of the few opportunities to leave campus. At the end of my stay, I came home feeling a little better, and a better thing than that: knowing better.
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