SHA: A wellness clinic like no other
Luxurymena sits down with Alejandro Bataller, vice-president of the Spanish wellness clinic SHA.
Facing the Mediterranean and the beautiful Sierra Helada Natural Park, SHA occupies a prime location on the beach of Albir in Alicante, Spain. The area’s pleasantly mild microclimate guarantees a fantastic temperature throughout the year and it has been declared to be one of the places with the best weather in the world by the World Health Organization.
Tell us about yourself, your career and how you ended up in the wellness business.
I have a degree in market research and techniques from the Pontifical University of Comillas (ICADE) and in business studies from the University of Alicante (UA). I was born in Argentina with Hispanic-Italian roots. I felt a clear calling to the world of marketing and strategy from an early age. Before joining the family business, I spent time working in banking (Bank of London, Royal Bank of Scotland), mass consumption (Colgate Palmolive) and luxury (LVMH), always connected to the field of marketing and strategy in order to gain experience in these fields in different sectors.
In 2007, I joined the family business. My family and I launched what today is the indisputable leader in health and wellbeing sector – the SHA Wellness Clinic. In an attempt to promote this innovative concept, I have travelled much of the world. Eight years after opening, the wellness clinic has been hailed with unprecedented international media coverage and more than 35 international awards, among them Best Medical Spa International from Condé Nast Traveller and Spa Finder, Best Destination Spa in Europe from Condé Nast Johansens and Best Spa in Spain 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. While it is not easy to replicate this unique concept, SHA is currently evaluating various proposals to expand the brand to new locations such as the USA and the Middle East.
Could you present SHA and what is different about it?
SHA Wellness Clinic is probably the only clinic everyone would love to be admitted to and leaves with remorse. It is a place where the guests find new energy, where the horizons are really widened, the spirit grows, the mind relaxes and appearance and health improve. Here, we understand health in a wider sense; not simply as the absence of illness, but as an optimal state of complete physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing, in harmony with the environment, keeping the ideal weight and great vitality. Once these principles are present in everyday life, peace and happiness are finally achieved.
What do you think brings the Middle Eastern clientele to SHA?
SHA Wellness guarantees guests a very pleasant stay, where they will feel right at home. We adapt the programmes and services to each guest. Before arrival at SHA Wellness Clinic, the guest fills in a detailed questionnaire in order to tell us about your health and expectations. During the stay, the medical team and the experts in nutrition and natural therapies adjust the health plan to the needs of each person, creating a customised programme to reach the stated goals, such as purifying the organism, attaining one’s ideal weight, slowing-down the ageing process and preventing premature ageing, stress control and prevention, anti-tobacco treatments, the treatment of sleep disorders or recuperation of vitality, among others.
As for our Arab guests, we care for them while paying respect to their traditions and upbringing. This is why we have developed the Ramadan Programme. This programme, which is followed under the strict supervision of our medical staff, is based on combining techniques that purify the body and monitor the diet, along with advice from our specialists. The objective of this programme is to restore the ideal body weight and re-establish values that might have been unbalanced as a result of the fasting period. Furthermore, we reserve the hydrotherapy circuit one hour per day for female use only and offer female therapists on demand. Of course, SHA offers a luxury service that fits perfectly to the needs of our Arab guests. The comfort of our guests has become one of the cornerstones of the SHA method. Regarding accommodation, the 93 suites, the sizes of which range from 70 to 320 square metres, are designed to create peaceful and relaxing atmospheres. There, everything, right down to the tiniest detail, has been thought of to make guests as comfortable as possible. Open spaces, exclusive designs, textures, aromas, convenience and refinement in every feature.
Do you think that wellness clinics here are missing something since a lot of customers tend to travel for treatments?
Nowadays, more and more hotels and resorts in the Middle East have made wellness a priority by introducing facilities and services focusing on pampering and relaxation, but there is a lack of properties focusing on health purposes and a real life-changing experience. It is difficult to offer a pathway to an optimum state of physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing as it requires highly skilled staff, years of experience, innovative treatments and the knowledge that enables guests to continue on with a healthier life after their stay.
Are there any expansion plans? Maybe in the region?
Since we launched SHA in 2008, we’ve received more than 40 formal proposals to replicate the concept in different locations. I would say nearly half of those come from the Middle East. So far, we didn’t want to accept any of those offers as we are very aware that this is not an easy concept to replicate. We are not only offering exclusive accommodation and a nice spa, this is about improving people’s lives. That’s our value proposition and to be achieved properly, it needs a level of personalisation that simply doesn’t exist on the market. We will only replicate it when we can guarantee the same level of professionalism and quality standards we have at SHA. The Middle East is definitely a market where we feel we can be of great help to society.
What do you think is SHA’s unique selling proposition (USP)?
Offering a real fusion between the most proven and efficient natural therapies, mainly from ancient Oriental knowledge, with the latest Western techniques under the same roof is our USP. Also, being able to reach the core of every patient’s needs and approaching the solution from the ground up, as each guest has individual requirements and we work towards customising our offerings to make a unique life-changing experience. Finally, the big educational approach, providing our guests with the tools and knowledge to continue with this healthy lifestyle that will allow them to enjoy their full potential.
What is your flagship treatment?
I cannot choose just one specific programme. We look at SHA as an integral experience, from the food to treatments and, from the lessons to the practice, we see it as an undivided experience.