Platinum List 2019: Best Wellness Resorts

Sha Wellness Clinic, The Ranch, 7132 Hotel

September/ October 2019
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From venerable establishments in Malibu and Switzerland to luxe enclaves in Spain, these health and fitness resorts represent the state of the art. 

Sha Wellness Clinic

Alacant, Spain

Stepping into the cool, elegant lobby of Sha Wellness Clinic, I am instantly filled with an overwhelming feeling of calm. And then it strikes me hard. I have signed up for several days with no access to alcohol or caffeine, and it has been years (and by years I mean a couple of decades) since I went without my morning coffee. My tranquility is quickly replaced by a rising sense of panic.

Caffeine and alcohol are not the only prohibited substances at Sha, one of the world’s leading wellness destinations, located on Spain’s Costa Blanca. A highly sought-after stay here will also not include any sugar, meat, eggs or dairy. The diet, which focuses on healthy nutrition and is largely vegan and gluten-free, with some added fish, is one of the central features of the Sha method devised by founder Alfredo Bataller Parietti, who says his East-meets-West formula enables guests to become the best versions of themselves.

“We are not seeking short-term results, but rather to create a truly transformational experience,” explains Bataller, whose ethos was inspired by the work of George Ohsawa, the father of modern macrobiotics. “The Sha concept is a mix of the most effective natural therapies and the latest innovations in medical science.” 

Apart from the emphasis on nutrition—think delicious organic, seasonal greens, as well as lentils, seeds, nuts and lots of miso soup—other key elements of the Sha method include exercise, relaxation and more than 300 different treatments, ranging from cognitive stimulation to genetic antiaging and regenerative medicine. Perhaps most importantly, each of Sha’s 12 health programs seeks to instill new habits for guests to maintain once they return home. 

Although the majority of people who come here are trying to lose weight, Sha is so much more than a rigid health regime. The hotel itself is an oasis of calm in a blissful setting overlooking the deep-blue waters of the Mediterranean and the Sierra Helada natural park. It enjoys an incredibly favorable microclimate, with some 330 days of sunshine a year and an average temperature between 60 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. The immaculate all-white, modernist complex features 93 suites and 11 private villas, a series of infinity pools and waterfalls, lush gardens, and state-of-the-art facilities, including fitness rooms, Pilates and yoga studios and an interactive kitchen for cooking classes. 

Celebrity subscribers to the method include Rossy de Palma and Debi Mazar, and Spanish model Elsa Pataky spent months at Sha before her wedding to Chris Hemsworth. “The goal is to empower guests to become the CEOs of their own health,” says Bataller. “This isn’t only about helping them achieve the goals they set for their stay, be it weight loss, detoxing, stress management, healthy aging, fitness or general well-being. It’s also giving them the tools and knowledge they need for the future.”

As my stay comes to an end, any initial skepticism I may have had has vanished. Somewhere between a man playing Tibetan singing bowls on my back, seeing my brain waves appear like a psychedelic, multicolored heart reading on a giant screen, and the toughest personal-training session of my life, I have developed a genuine desire to rethink some of my lifestyle choices. Now, where’s my cappuccino? —Isabelle Kliger

7132 Hotel

Vals, Switzerland

At this five-star resort, spring-fed thermal baths set the stage for spa treatments including deep-cleaning poultices and acupuncture.

The Ranch

Malibu, California, United States

This 200-acre property incorporates equal parts Zen, intense daily rigor and plant-centric sustenance.

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