This New Luxury, All-inclusive Wellness Retreat Just Opened in Costa Mujeres, Mexico — and I Was One of the First to Visit

The new Sha Wellness Clinic Mexico, just an hour north of Cancun, has intensive, four- to 21-day wellness programs, healthy restaurants, and snorkeling along the world's second-largest reef.

<p>MAUREEN M.EVANS/Courtesy of SHA Mexico </p>

MAUREEN M.EVANS/Courtesy of SHA Mexico

“I like people going back with self-knowledge, but also with the fact their health is in their own hands,” Philippa Harvey, a traditional Chinese medicine specialist, told me during my final energy health assessment. I came to the new, 35-residence, 100-room Sha Wellness Clinic, in Costa Mujeres, Mexico, for a four-day Rebalance & Energize program. Harvey’s words to me, on my last day, resonated the most.

During my stint at Sha Wellness Clinic Mexico, I had my body mass index, weight, vascular health, blood pressure, intravascular fat, and cognitive functions analyzed; adhered (mostly) to a diet lacking sugar, salt, gluten, meat, dairy, eggs, alcohol, or caffeine; was pumped intravenously with oxygen and supplemental vitamins; lay in a half compression suit for Pressotherapy (i.e. lymphathic drainage); had acupuncture twice; enjoyed the benefits of hydroenergetic detox, which saw me slathered with seaweed, wrapped, and tucked into a hot water bed that jiggled me like a fussy, wet baby; enjoyed a Shiatsu session; fell asleep to Tibetan sound bowls at sunset; discussed my diet and my brain with various specialists; was manipulated by an osteopath; napped while a machine regenerated my cells with electrical currents; and met with a yoga instructor. In my free time, I slipped in a shellac manicure and pedicure, snorkeled with a school of juvenile barracuda, and sat by the clinic’s pool.

“It’s a harmonious blend of nature, science, and luxury,” said Alejandro Bataller, vice president and chief marketing officer of AB Living, the owning and operating group behind Sha. He describes the experience as “inviting individuals to embark on a journey of self-discovery and optimal health,” and that comports with my experience, mostly, snorkeling included.

Sha Wellness Clinic Mexico

  • Perched on a crescent of unusually Sargasso-clear sandy beach, Sha offers more than just wellness, like trips out on a Hobie cat, paddleboarding, swimming in any of the property’s three pools, a hot and cold hydro circuit, and pre-arranged boat trips to the stunning nearby coral reef.

  • Guests can choose from multiple wellness programs, which are either four or seven days in length and are all-inclusive in pricing. The clinic also offers longer programs — up to 21 days in length – for those seeking a full reset.

  • A comprehensive beauty salon is also available for guests’ use, with added amenities like manicures, pedicures, and other treatments.

  • For those traveling with companions who have opted not to participate in the wellness program, in-room dining external to the three dining plans is available. Head chef Daniel Quesada can also prepare certain meals for guests who are not adhering to a nutrition plan.

Guests of Sha Wellness Clinic — the clinic is a follow-up to a successful Spanish property — immediately undergo a health analysis upon arrival and are then escorted in to see a nutritionist to discuss the trip’s plan of action. For me, a 43-year-old woman with “normal” readings on BMI and weight, “low-to-average” blood pressure, “optimal arterial elasticity,” and “excellent” muscle mass, a weight loss diet was neither recommended nor not recommended.

“Do you want to lose weight while you are here?” Joana André, head of nutrition, asked me during my Healthy Nutrition Consultation on my first day. My answer would determine whether I was put on the program’s Biolight Menu or Sha Menu. The third menu, Kushi, which focuses on weight loss, was not offered to me at all. (Sha did not confirm to me the number of calories available in each menu.)

I did not want to lose weight. The Sha Menu was recommended for my stay.

<p>MAUREEN M.EVANS/Courtesy of SHA Mexico</p>

MAUREEN M.EVANS/Courtesy of SHA Mexico

The Sha Menu, advertised as the clinic’s most gastronomic, still avoids gluten, meat, dairy, salt, sugar, alcohol, and much of the other foods I’m accustomed to eating. For breakfast: miso soup, fresh fruit over porridge, crudité, and various plant-based spreads. Lunch one day was a decadent stir-fry of mushrooms, snap peas, and other veggies, dinner an umami-forward “ramen.” The best dessert I ate was called the piña colada: a brunoise of pineapple beneath a cloud of coconut foam, a palate-cleanser so sweet and ethereal that I did not miss the poolside piña coladas.

Still, you probably don’t go to Sha to eat, if we’re being honest. I didn’t. I went to see if the treatments, many of which are medical in scope, are useful, interesting, or noteworthy. Having access to machines that could proffer information about my internal well-being was one of the most astonishing parts of being at Sha. I was less astonished by the cognitive exam that I took on three hours’ sleep (and ego-bruised when Dr. Alba Serrano told me that my memory was rated “poor” as a result, a conversation that, however ironically, I can recall with clarity).

Sha is at its most successful when it combines technologically astute machinery with compassionate team members who can guide guests on a path of their own choosing. The program is, at times, didactic, proselytizing the best way to achieve good health, when there are, in my view, many paths that can realize the same outcome, particularly in a world full of complicated lives. But I found that some of my consultations armed me with information that was new, useful, and unlike anything I’d been offered in my years traveling as a mother, athlete, woman, journalist, or plain old human being.

Which may be why my biggest revelation came in my meetings with Philippa Harvey. Did I go into my energy healing sessions with the open-mindedness that the sessions deserved? Probably not. I didn't necessarily check my cynicism at the door. But Harvey saw through me right from the start, determining that I was too much in my own head and establishing that what I really needed was to let the gas pedal up on my own life.

During our acupuncture sessions, I fell into a deep and unrelenting sleep, much better than the tortured and dissatisfied sleep I get at home. My health, as Harvey reminded me, both at Sha and back in my own life, was in my own hands. Maybe I just needed to come to Mexico to hear it.

Here, my review of the new Sha Wellness Clinic Mexico.

The Rooms

<p>Courtesy of SHA Mexico</p>

Courtesy of SHA Mexico

My 498-square-foot Oceanfront Grand Suite had one bedroom, a living area, a private office, a three-quarter bath, and a primary bathroom with a soaking tub and double vanity, as well as a wraparound deck with an outdoor hot tub that faced the ocean. Rooms are offered in multiple categories, from the Oceanfront Deluxe, the entry-level room featuring double-occupancy and a terrace facing the sea, all the way up to the Oceanfront Royal Suite, which features its own private plunge pool and three bedrooms across two floors.

Neutral design accents define these spaces, which also bring the outdoors inside. Couches and chairs are upholstered in light linen fabrics. Natural wood is used throughout the spaces, and decor is minimalist; rooms are meant to be a quiet place for guests to retreat to, without distraction.

<p>MAUREEN M.EVANS/Courtesy of SHA Mexico</p>

MAUREEN M.EVANS/Courtesy of SHA Mexico

The interior design, the property notes, aims to reduce guests’ exposure to toxic products and encourage environmentally safe alternatives. Floors are finished with porcelain tile that look like natural stone, while vanities are made from white concrete.

Food and Drink

Currently, all guests of the clinic dine at Shamadi, the fine-dining restaurant that is central to Sha Wellness. Dining is part of the all-inclusive price structure, and guests arrange a dining plan with their nutritionist during their consultation, although some may opt to switch back and forth between Sha and Biolight menus (I did this during my stay, though the nutritionists recommend that those assigned to Biolight remain on the Biolight menu). Breakfast each morning is often enjoyed outdoors, on a terrace that overlooks the sea. Other meals are more formal, and even the Biolite menu includes an appetizer and entrée at both lunch and at dinner.

The property is also expanding its food-and-beverage program and will soon open a second dining outpost, Earthy. This more casual, outdoor venue will also be open to guests who are not staying at the clinic, though it will still employ the culinary vision of Sha, which depends on plant-based food and sustainable fish for its dining model. It will also be focused on live-fire cooking.

Activities and Experiences

<p>MAUREEN M.EVANS/Courtesy of SHA Mexico</p>

MAUREEN M.EVANS/Courtesy of SHA Mexico

Guests of the clinic can relax at Sha's four pools, two of which are on the main level, overlooking the ocean. A third pool, designed for lap-swimmers, is on the fifth floor, and a fourth is included within the hydro circuit (the residences also have their own private pool). A hydro circuit, featuring hot tubs, cold-plunge pools, saunas, steam rooms, and cold rooms, is available for guest use daily. The clinic will soon open a 21-capacity movie theater, where they will screen films for guests; guests will also be able to request private usage of this space should they wish to watch a sports event or host a movie night.

<p>MAUREEN M.EVANS/Courtesy of SHA Mexico</p>

MAUREEN M.EVANS/Courtesy of SHA Mexico

The clinic has a Hobie Cat, paddleboards, and a private boat, for those wishing to get out on the water. Isla Mujeres, the low-key vacation destination, is just a short boat ride from the clinic, as is one section of the second-largest coral reef in the world. The clinic is also a short boat ride to the site of a small wreck, which is now a great snorkeling site on clear days.

<p>MAUREEN M.EVANS/Courtesy of SHA Mexico</p>

MAUREEN M.EVANS/Courtesy of SHA Mexico

On-site, guests will also find a small boutique, where they can purchase both sundries and higher-end items, like clothing, supplements, Sha Wellness Clinic’s cookbook, and jewelry; and a juice bar and library, which is an added space to spend time on cooler days or in inclement weather. A full fitness center is accessible on the top floor of the clinic.

Salon and Spa Treatments

The clinic’s beauty salon was where Sofía Hau, my forgiving manicurist, brought my tired hands and feet back to life. Guests can also opt for lash applications, waxing, hair cutting and coloring, microblading, hair extensions, and professional styling from the capable salon staff.

The clinic itself also offers a wide array of body treatments, including aloe vera body wraps, Abhyanga massage, and water-specific treatments, like the hydroenergetic detox, which I underwent via the help of a therapist named Kim Ochoa.

Accessibility and Sustainability

The clinic offers three handicapped-accessible Deluxe Suites, all outfitted with roll-in showers and toilet bars. Apart from the beach itself, all areas of the property, including all wellness areas, are accessible by wheelchair.

In order to minimize ecological impact, the property employs natural construction materials and uses renewable energy sources whenever possible. Sha Wellness Clinic has also pledged to get their Green Globe Certification within their first year of operation. They have collaborated with local NGOs that are dedicated to the conservation, research, and awareness of the marine environment and plan to institute a composting program, planting an organic garden. Herbs and plants grown will be used in the property’s restaurants. Approximately 80 percent of the property’s guests consume information through Sha Wellness Clinic’s apps, reducing the use of paper. The property also has plans to screen 198 documentaries of educational content, some of which will focus on sustainability.

The property has also instituted community impact practices, including dedicated environmental cleaning days to remove waste from local beaches, cenotes, and mangroves; the Sha Healthy Fest, a space where community members can learn sustainable lifestyle habits; and broader charitable initiatives, like donations to local volunteer associations.


Located about a half hour from Cancún International Airport, Sha Wellness Clinic provides included transport.

Finding the Best Value

Sha Wellness Clinic’s programs are all-inclusive, and the shortest program – the four-night, five-day Rebalance & Energize health program – is $5,600. Summer, the property notes, is the low season for travel, and travelers can potentially find deals at this time.

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