An interview with Mr. Alejandro Bataller, Vice-President at the SHA Wellness Clinic
Today many hoteliers and wellness operators are talking about holistic health. But very few have offered an integrative approach as perfectly as does SHA Wellness Clinic, which combines scientific medicine and natural therapies like no other establishment so far. A deep understanding of nutrition inspired the birth of the brand. A profound mastery of advanced regenerative medicine including gene therapy, cell therapy, tissue engineering lays a solid technologic foundation. A series of innovative programs covering cognitive stimulation, revitalising medicine, inner balance and more have expanded people’s horizon on what health means.
SHA Spain is perched on one of the finest locations in the Mediterranean, enjoying a privileged climate with 330 sunny days a year. Facing the charming village of Altea, it is integrated into a land and maritime natural park home to one of the main ornithological reserves in Europe. After over a decade transforming the lives of thousands of people around the world, SHA is now crossing the seas to new continents. Two new properties will unfold in the near future at picturesque sites in Mexico and Emirates, drawing more people into the embrace of the SHA wellness method.
SpaChina interviewed Mr. Alejandro Bataller, the Vice President at SHA Wellness Clinic to learn more about its renowned holistic approach to health and well-being. Mr. Bataller graduated from the Pontifical University of Comillas in Spain (ICADE) before completing his degree in Business Management at Harvard Business School. He started his career in London, working in the finance industry, before joining the family business in 2007 to launch SHA Wellness Clinic. In addition, Alejandro is an Associate Professor at ISEM Fashion Business School, Pontifical University of Comillas (ICADE), Madrid School of Marketing, University of Alicante, and a guest professor at the Condé Nast Traveller Masters Program in Spain. He is also a frequent lecturer at leading forums on luxury, tourism and wellness.
What are the factors that drove the foundation of SHA? What is your vision and what services do you offer related to this vision, and what are the highlights of SHA Spain in terms of its location and design?
We opened in 2008, seeking to create a global reference in health and wellness. The inspiration behind SHA Wellness Clinic came when my father, the Founder of SHA, Alfredo Bataller Parietti, was dealing with his own critical health issues. He was lucky enough to see a doctor who had a great understanding of nutrition and natural therapies, who enabled him to regain his health. Since then, the need and commitment to share this with as many people as possible arose, creating an establishment that combined the most effective and proven natural therapies with highly therapeutic nutrition, without neglecting the latest advances in Western medicine, especially with respect to preventive medicine, genetics, and anti-aging.
In order that not only those who visit SHA can benefit from this valuable knowledge but also to generate an impact on society, we created the SHA Foundation. The objective of the SHA Foundation is to investigate, promote and teach how nutrition and health are closely related. In response to the existing nutrition issues prevalent in society, whether it’s due to scarcity, excesses or the consumption of inadequate products or ones causing unwanted secondary effects and the effect it’s having on the population’s health, SHA Foundation aims to have a positive impact on people’s health, by studying and investigating the importance of nutrition for optimal health.
In terms of design and location, SHA is characterized by a relaxed atmosphere, surrounded by vegetation, waterfalls, all with natural materials. We like our guests to enjoy their stay from the moment they wake up in the morning overlooking Altea Bay or the Natural Park, We want them to feel at home in a luxury environment.
Could you briefly tell us how a typical journey proceeds at SHA Spain?
The main goal of any guest who comes to SHA is clear: to achieve optimal health and wellbeing and to take with them the tools and the knowledge to keep it. Of course, to reach this goal there are different processes: achieve optimal weight, purify the body, prevent or reverse premature aging processes, manage stress … Usually guests have their priorities clear and select the program that suits them best. Once they arrive at SHA, they have various consultations and diagnostic tests during the first hours from which the nutrition, treatments and activities included in the program are personalized, depending on various factors: the state of health, the needs of the body or daily habits, for example.
Please share in detail how SHA deals with aging-related issues.
As we age, so do our cells. Genetics, as well as nutrition and lifestyle, determine our health, and well-being can greatly influence the progression of cellular aging. So since its opening in 2008, preventive medicine and anti-aging medicine are a part of the SHA philosophy and the SHA Method. At SHA we have a Preventive Medicine Unit that helps our guests to enjoy life with health and vitality, regardless of life’s stages, through several treatments. Preventative medicine is based on “predicting to prevent”, that is to say, the ability to determine the risk of suffering from certain illnesses using information about genetic changes in people. SHA has an advanced laboratory to carry out genetic and genomic studies of all kinds, from telomere analysis to biomarker studies.
Once you have the results of your genetic tests, you can implement personalised techniques using the latest technology from preventative medicine, such as Bioidentical Hormone Replacement. This technique can restore depleted levels of hormones to their optimal level, helping to prevent age-related illnesses and improve symptoms of aging, such as menopause for women or andropause for men. Revitalising medicine can give you increased vitality, energy, and a strong feeling of well-being as the immune system improves thanks to ozonotherapy and suerotherapy. You can also try regenerative medicine techniques, which focus on regenerating tissues and improving organic structures using the most advanced stem cell treatments and embryonic-derived biological elements that are highly effective for anti-aging treatments, orthopedic repair, and erectile dysfunction therapies, among others.
What is the composition of your expert team?
We have about 40 different nationalities among our professionals (including about 30 doctors). We have had to go around a lot to get the best in certain areas! We offer the most outstanding, internationally renowned experts in nutrition, preventive medicine, anti-ageing, genetics, holistic medicine, dermoaesthetic medicine, regenerative medicine, revitalising medicine, fitness, and cognitive stimulation, among others. They all work together to create our SHA Method, based on integrative medicine combining effective holistic therapies and the latest medical treatments. We have created a scientific committee that constantly researches each of the fields our comprehensive method covers looking for the latest to help our guest live longer and better.
Who are the guests at SHA Spain, including their origin, age range, and major health concerns?
Our regular guests are men or women between the ages of 30 and 50, from different parts of the world: The Middle East, Spain, England, USA, Russia… The common factor of all of them is that they live a frenetic life and seek to occupy their limited free time to reach an optimal state of physical, mental and spiritual well-being and to learn new habits and maintain them.
What is the percentage of Chinese guests at SHA Spain? What are the top programs among them? How long do they stay at SHA on average?
Although we have not yet carried out any promotional action in China, we are receiving some Chinese citizens interested in improving their health and well-being. The program of greatest interest for them is our healthy ageing program, which has a minimum duration of 7 days to achieve significant results.
Do most Chinese guests visit on their own or through medical tour agencies?
So far, the majority of Chinese citizens visiting SHA have booked directly. No doubt health and wellness specialized travel partners can always be of great help when it comes to discerning between an increasingly wide and varied offer of health and well-being, which best fits the needs of each guest.
How do you promote yourself to potential overseas guests?
The great support that we have always received from the media, from the specialized collaborators and the nearly one hundred awards received by international institutions have been fundamental to get where we are, but all that is of no use if you do not give excellent service. Getting the results that guests expect is what generates the wod of mouth that allow us to be fully booked most part of the year.
What’s your development plan and goal for SHA in the next five years? Will you build more properties in other areas of the world?
By the end the year 2019, after traveling to dozens of locations in search of the perfect environment, we announced the opening of two new properties, SHA Mexico and SHA Emirates. Both will be developed based on our philosophy that has characterized us since our beginning: healthy nutrition as a cornerstone, a 360º integrative method that combines holistic therapies and preventive medicine, and the re-education of habits in the short and medium term that have a significant impact on long-term health.
SHA Mexico, which is to open in 2021, will be located in the state of Quintana Roo, in a quiet and paradisiacal setting in front of Isla Mujeres, a strategic location to serve both the North American and Latin American markets. It will have 7 hectares of native nature, where it will be integrated with the exuberant flora and fauna of the area, and with about half a kilometer of white sand beach. It will have 100 suites and Private Residences, all with seafront views. Mostly natural materials and renewable energy sources including marble, Mexican ceramics, wicker and native fabrics will be used in the construction and decor of the wellness centre.
SHA Emirates, our third location, will be built by IMKAN Properties, one of the best-known developers in the region. The wellness clinic will be located in a unique coastal ecosystem known as AlJurf. The opening of SHA Emirates is scheduled for early 2023. SHA and IMKAN’s objective is not just to open a leading wellness clinic for the Middle East but to creating a community around the healthy lifestyle. The opening of SHA Emirates seeks to mark a turning point to positively influence the lifestyle of the entire region towards healthier habits. SHA Emirates will occupy 125,000 square meters along the coast and will feature 120 suites.
What trends do you see in the global wellness industry? Now more and more wellness resorts are opening around the world. What are your suggestions to them?
It may sound pretentious, but current market trends are very much aligned with issues that we have been working on at SHA for years and that have become popular today. Among them I would highlight:
- A deeper approach to aging prevention away from cosmetics and superficiality and demanded every time by younger generations for a preventive purpose.
- Mental Wellness / Cognitive Stimulation, not only worrying that our body ages in optimal conditions but also our mind, enjoying brain agility at any stage of life.
- Energy medicine as a way to prevent health problems thanks to detecting imbalances in our energy and correct them in time.
- Sabbatical Wellness. Facilitate senior executives who can improve their health and well-being while continuing to fulfill their professional obligations.
Indeed, the popularity of this industry (and the growing necessity in the population) has motivated the number of wellness properties to grow exponentially. Many traditional hoteliers felt attracted to discover this industry as a way to increase their demand. My recommendation would be “Never over-process. People are trusting us with the most important thing they have, their health”.