SHA is a wellness hotel dedicated to improving people's health and well-being through a fusion of ancient oriental disciplines and revolutionary western techniques.
Just 30 miles from Alicante and 100 from one of our all-time favourite hangouts - Valencia - SHA is, in our humble opinion, the best health retreat in Europe. The location isn't too bad, either, near the beach of El Albir and surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery. Accommodation is in 93 luxury suites with balconies and terraces on which most have Jacuzzis. There are also superb views and all the services you'd expect of a 5 star hotel.
The focus, however, is on the health area, where different therapies and treatments are personalised to suit each guest. All SHA's programmes and treatments are created and supervised by world renowned experts including the eminent Michio Kushi. Among the therapies available are acupuncture, ozone therapy, hydrotherapy, yoga, Pilates, reflexology, hydrocolonotherapy, and anti-ageing treatments.
Gentlemen, you may want to turn away at this point because here comes the science bit. The SHA method is based on an intensely purifying, well-balanced diet, tailored to individual needs and combined with natural therapies. The aesthetics medicine unit works alongside the anti-ageing unit with the shared aim of preventing the signs of ageing and treating its visible signs.
So there you have it. Guests at SHA come for health reasons, but this is not some miserable 'one lettuce leaf a day' sort of place. The food is excellent, and while it's healthy, there's also plenty of it. SHA is also a wonderful place to go and relax, pamper yourself, bask in the 300 days a year of sunshine and explore the outdoors on walks, cycling trips, the tennis courts and golf course. There's also an enormous spa.
Why We Love It
How's this for an ambitious mission statement: SHA aims 'to ensure that all guests enjoy a pleasant stay and leave looking and feeling younger and healthier, revitalised and renewed both inside and out.... experience a fundamental change in their bodies, an improvement in their quality of life, and a slowing down of the aging process.'
Mas de La Serra
Mas de La Serra is an exclusive country house wilderness retreat in Matarranya, perhaps the last truly authentic region of Spain.
Mas De la Serra is ideal for large groups of up to 20 friends or family to get together for the ultimate break, including five suppers per week, daily breakfast, maid service, your own concierge to plan activities, linen change and heated swimming pool in season. Guests have complete access to the kitchen to prepare any other meal.
The 'Masia' is also a boutique hotel and a member of the most exclusive country hotel group in Spain. They welome guests who just want to stay a couple of nights coming as individuals or couples particularly outside the peak season.
Mas de La Serra is a 'masia' which is the name for a stone farmhouse in Eastern Spain. Many like this one have dominated this wilderness for hundreds of years. Since being abandoned in the 1970's it has finally been restored to its former glory. No expense has been spared to fuse traditional and chic design with all the trimmings creating the perfect retreat for those wishing to recharge in total comfort. From individual Moroccan style tadelakt bathrooms and steam room, to three different panoramic roof decks or the infinity pool spilling out over one of the best vistas in Spain, this is a place to get away from it all and discover a new level of relaxation.
The masia has eight bedrooms and can sleep 16-20 guests (a children's dormitory is available in the summer). All of the rooms have en suite bathrooms and are split into five doubles and three twins though this ratio can be changed with notice. There are two superior suites, one with sitting room, open fire and private terrace and one split level with Victorian stand alone bath in the upstairs bedroom so you can lie back and soak up the view of the mountains. Cots are also available on request.
All of the eight bedrooms have stunning views of the mountains, almond groves and the limestone butresses which dominate one side of the masia. Here the endangered Spanish ibex can be seen playing in the evening light. By night the stars make an incredible display as there is a total absence of light pollution. And by day you can relax on one of the terraces and enjoy a drink and gaze out over miles of wilderness without a single house in sight.
The masia's Peruvian cook Jenny provides daily breakfast and three course fixed dinner menu five days a week. Jenny's cuisine is a combination of traditional Peruvian dishes from the culinary capital of Latin America and local mountain gastronomy. Luis, your concierge, can arrange your visit to a nearby winery and reserve you a table at one of the wonderful Michelin recommended local restaurants specialising in lamb, rabbit, wildboar, partridge and quail dishes. In the autumn it is also possible to help with the almond harvest and go truffle hunting in the surrounding hills. Gastronomy is very much an important part of the Mas de La Serra experience. Most importantly Luis and Jenny offer a level of hospitality and service that larger hotels do not have the time or the budget to afford.
Why We Love It
The region of Matarranya is where the three great kingdoms of Aragon, Catalunya and Valencia converge in a Mediterranean mountain paradise described as the 'Tuscany of 50 years ago'.
Palau de la Mar
In the heart of Valencia's fashionable Carmen district, Palau de la Mar is a chic refuge created out of two 19th century stately homes which have been completely remodelled to form the city's first luxury five star hotel.
Standing on an attractive street, the hotel's classic facade hides the luxurious modern interior which lies within.
The 76 rooms have all been stylishly decorated with neutral white fabrics and dark wood floorings and sliding doors separate them from the spacious bathrooms.
The hotel's excellent Senzone restaurant serves fine Mediterranean cuisine and there is a more informal lounge and cocktail bar facing the inner courtyard gardens.
The Bodyna Spa features an indoor swimming pool, steam room, sauna and fitness room and offers a good range of treatment.
Many of the city's top attractions including the Palace of Music, Oceanic Museum, Plaza del Toros and the Mediterranean beach are within easy walking distance, as are the lively restaurants and bars of the Carmen district.
Why We Love It
The Romans created Valencia as a place of rest, so you really ought to indulge in the Spa here - it's tradition after all.