Today I visited the Shanti Som Spa and Wellbeing Retreat in the hills above Marbella and looked at how this business has gone from strength to strength, still surviving the pandemic.
Shanti Som offers bespoke packages for those who want to get away from the stresses of day to day living for a break. They also do retreat packages pairing up with physical and mental activities like yoga, pilates and healing.
I had the pleasure of being greeted by Christine who is the Manager of Shanti Som. Christine has been managing the retreat for 10 years. After getting pleasantries out the way we discussed how business has been. The fallout from Covid took its toll on Shanti Som as it did for many other businesses relying on tourism. They closed their doors when lock down commenced and then did not open again until July 2020 which subsequently, was a massive month for them. They almost did the same numbers in one month as they would have done for the previous months they were closed in total. Then as airlines started to cancel flights, so too did bookings.
As Christine fixed me a welcome drink of fruit juice and ginger, she told me of how she had seen a rise in Spanish customers which the Spa has not traditionally had in the past. Not surprisingly, local tourism is on the climb. There have also been visitors from countries who have imposed 14 day self-isolation rules on returning travellers from Spain, but those visitors have not necessarily had the pressure of returning to jobs and still came with a view that it was worth the trip.
In terms of the spa itself, the very location of Shanti Som (essentially in the middle of the forest) is one of the defining features of this Spa and Hotel. Having come from a busy A-7 motorway and general noise pollution of living in and around a golf course, apartments and a built up area, I felt like I’d left Spain and arrived somewhere else.
My first impressions when I walked through the door was that relaxation is compulsory here. The lying buddha water feature that greets you at the gate, the stairway up to the reception area and the impressive courtyard beyond with gentle water features, Thai style umbrellas and lounging areas with light chill out music…. And, relax!
I started my visit with a dip in the pool which was surprisingly cold but refreshing! Christine told me that the pool stays that temperature even in the height of the Summer heat however they do heat the pool in the Winter to give their clientele the option of swimming all year round. Next to the pool is their gym where you can arrange a fitness session with a personal trainer or just use the equipment provided.
I followed up my dip with a two course lunch from their menu and a glass of wine. There are vegetarian options and I am pretty sure they would be happy to create a vegan menu if you wished for one. You can choose a range of Spa treatments from their extensive list. After lunch, I had a full body massage and a facial using Guinot products, compliments of Yolanda. Fabulous!
Overall Shanti Som left me feeling peaceful and relaxed. I would recommend a visit whether you are local or visiting the area from elsewhere. You can find them just off the A-355 heading towards Monda. The turnoff from the A-7 is the 182 heading towards Ojen. Just be warned, the entry to the driveway / road that takes you up to the retreat is not terribly well sign posted so look out for a sign with a hotel and massage icon – this is your turn off.
But also, don’t take my word for it, have a look around here.