WELLNESS MASTERS
SHA, The Wellness Revolution
An interview by Yvan Vermeesch

The XO Private Founder, Yvan Vermeesch, sits down for the exclusive interview series with, Alejandro Bataller, Vicepresident of SHA Wellness Clinic. Just over a decade after its launch, Sha Wellness Clinic is a benchmark brand in wellness tourism in Europe and is now expanding to the world. Its center in Alicante attracts guests from all over the world who are looking for the secret of eternal youth and the promise of reaching one's full potential. Now SHA Wellness will be opening brand new locations in Mexico and Emirates. Alejandro lets us in on SHA's origins, future plans and philosophy in this interesting interview.

Sometimes the most successful concepts originate within the most challenging times and circumstances. SHA Wellness Clinic originated from a hopeless diagnosis on your father´s health? What inspired your family to kick off the incredible SHA Wellness Clinic adventure?

SHA is an example of how something very positive can emerge from a negative situation. After years of suffering health problems visiting doctors without obtaining a solution, in 2002, my father received a very hopeless diagnosis. This encouraged him to visit a doctor with expertise in integrative medicine and after changing his nutrition and his life habits, he managed to recover his health, opening our eyes to the importance of knowing how to take proper care of our body to enjoy optimal health and well-being.

We then felt the need to share this treasure with others so that many would benefit by creating a method, the SHA Method, that would merge the most effective and proven techniques of both scientific and holistic medicine to achieve and maintain health and wellbeing.
SHA Mexico - Opening 2022
Sha Residences, Mexico
Alejandro Bataller, Vicepresident of SHA Wellness Clinic
Starting such a bold undertaking in dire financial times requires both courage and vision. It must have been a steep learning curve. Which were the major challenges to overcome?

We began to create the project in 2004 and we had to open our doors in 2008 at the beginning of one of the worst global crises. I would say it was like learning to swim in the middle of a tsunami! Today everyone talks about Wellness, Medical Wellness, but then it was not like that. People were used to a more traditional Spa Concept. When you launch such an innovative product, an educational effort is necessary to make sure the concept is correctly interpreted, being persistent and faithful to the initial concept has been key to that process.


What was the breakthrough moment from which point onwards you knew that SHA Wellness Clinic would be the success you had in mind?

From the beginning, we were clear that the concept would be a success because it responds not to a trend but to a crucial need of society. Our vision was never to create a beautiful spa on the Mediterranean coast, but to create the world's leading wellness brand.

Logically Rome was not built in two days, and from our opening, it took us approximately 3 years to have the popularity, prestige, and demand that we expected. Word of mouth was key, and that is only achieved by exceeding the expectations of our guests. 

How would describe the DNA of your concept? What sets it apart?

SHA is a life-transforming experience, focused on helping individuals to achieve and maintain their optimal health with the goal of enjoying their full physical, mental, and spiritual performance. This is achieved through our SHA Method which explores important disciplines in a coordinated way that allows us to improve our guest’s health from an integrative perspective:

It is unique at SHA:

- The most integrative method to achieve optimal health and wellbeing with a global health vision, benefiting from the latest advancements in modern/scientific research together with the most effective wellness therapies and healthy organic balanced cuisine

- Highly focused on delivering the most effective results during the guests stay and allowing individuals to learn the lifestyle, preparing guests to maintain their optimal health state

- Combination of an effective method with the highest hospitality standards, comfort, and facilities with the clear vision of delivering a unique experience but also a transformative one.
Sha Wellness Residences
Alejandro Bataller, Vicepresident of SHA Wellness Clinic
Where do the majority of your guests originate from? How long do they stay on average? Have you seen a shift in your main geographical target markets over the years? Which markets enjoy your focus into the future?

Our guests are adults of all ages, well balanced in gender, and from all over the world. They have one key goal which is to achieve and maintain a better version of themselves while unlocking their full potential.

Since SHA opened, we crafted an experience that was able to attract a younger clientele when compared to other wellness properties. The method, concept, and design were key to achieve this.
Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East are our key regions. We are starting to design a strategy to develop the Asian market – we do not discard a potential SHA in Asia.

SHA Wellness Clinic has meanwhile developed into a well-known name within the global hospitality industry. How have you achieved this?

The excellence spirit, innovation, and evolution were key for the brand to achieve it but that will never become a reality if you do not deliver the service and meet the guest’s expectations in a constant way and with the highest service levels.

After your first successful property near Alicante, Spain you have exciting expansion plans. What can you share about them?

SHA is a complex project to replicate in any other part of the world. This is because of the level of experts you need to deliver the results and the high level of personalization we deliver for each guest.
Nevertheless, we set the goal of having one property per continent this decade.

Our second property, already under construction, will be in Costas Mujeres, Mexico, a unique setting, only 25m from Cancun airport. The next opening will be in Abu Dhabi, in Aljurf which is a natural reserve on the coast, located midway between Dubai and Abu Dhabi
"The excellence spirit, innovation, and evolution were key for the brand"
SHA Residences, Mexico
SHA Mexico - Opening 2022
The industry has changed significantly over the years since you started your adventure. Which element, trend or similar has impacted your business most? How did you manage this shift?

A decade ago, wellness properties were still perceived for a more senior clientele, mostly ladies which were looking for pampering and weight loss purposed. Nowadays, the wellness clientele is mostly mid-age active individuals which are used to achieve great things at many levels of their life. One thing they all have in common is the constant evolution, self-demanding, and the constant pursuit of excellence in all disciplines to meet their goals and expectations.

Since SHA opened, we noticed this change in the industry and we focused on this guest profile, designing each aspect of the product to allow individuals to achieve their results and meet their expectations.

There's no doubt that you have some most inspiring or hilarious anecdote to share that you've experienced at SHA Wellness Clinic?

Many transformative experiences and testimonials come to my mind. One of them from a Chairman of a Latin American Bank. He didn’t take any holidays in the last 5 years. He was in poor health and feeling he was at the end of his life at 65. He came for a week and stayed for 3 months, postponing his departure every week amazed with the transformation he was experiencing and realizing how important it was to finally take care of himself. He left being a totally different person, feeling he was at the beginning of the best stage of his life.

Which piece of advice do you have for entrepreneurs who wish to embark on a similar adventure of building a successful wellness clinic?

Make sure every single person on your team cares authentically about every guest's health and wellbeing. Do not overpromise. Focus on delivering the best experience, and guests will come!

Yvan Vermeesch
                          
A Belgian by birth, Yvan Vermeesch grew up across Africa before heading to the Caribbean followed by the stunning city of Prague before calling the Mediterranean island of Mallorca home. Always looking to innovate across the board and with a clear penchant for everything experiential in travel, Yvan Vermeesch takes great pride in connecting the finest players in bespoke travel around the globe.
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