Overhaul your body in half an hour with these speedy therapies
The oxygen bar
Duration: 15 minutes.
Best for: A Zen lunch break.
The process: We arrived expecting to find a retro, space-age white room housing racks of oxygen masks. Instead, we were pleased to stumble upon our own private, darkened room with a reclining massage chair and spa-like music. We’d opted for a 15-minute treatment, which featured a surprisingly blissful bout of pure air administered through a Madonna-esque headset contraption. The massage chair pummelled and jiggled everything from our feet to our neck (well, except for our left thigh, where the chair appeared to be broken). Even the vaguely medical sound of the oxygen pumping soon became relaxing. The oxygen itself felt too cold at first on our delicate nostrils, but was quite soothing after a while.
Results: We walked out feeling rejuvenated, although we’d attribute that to lying in a darkened room in a massage chair – we can’t guarantee it had anything to do with the oxygen. The benefits of the treatment, such as curing hangovers, are still under debate, and are widely considered null and void in the science camp. Dhs85 for 15 minutes; Dhs165 for 30 minutes. Talise Spa, Jumeirah Emirates Towers (04 319 8181).
The energising detox anti-cellulite treatment
Duration: 20 minutes.
Best for: A cheap ‘express’ experience that claims to banish cellulite.
The process: Our therapist, Bochra surprises us by saying clients see a 70 to 80 per cent difference in unsightly orange-peel skin after just a few months of using Shiffa’s anti-cellulite kit – it’s a broad claim, but one she seems to stand by. The treatment starts off with her mixing a basil, mint and black pepper body wash that relieves and replenishes the skin, while a basil and mint body scrub helps to smooth and refine, sloughing away dead skin cells. Using this, she goes to work on our thighs and gives us a quick, deep massage – at times she doesn’t go easy on us, but the pressure is bearable, and the aroma is a great balance of soothing and invigorating. Finally, the key element – the body oil – is applied. It feels warm at first, but then becomes refreshingly cool, leaving a tingling sensation that lasts for hours after the treatment. ‘No one has time these days,’ Bochra says, ‘but it’s just common sense, like eating breakfast every morning. Taking care of your skin has to be part of your routine.’
Results: We didn’t notice any instant results, but Bochra assured us our skin would feel firmer after the third day if we bought the Shiffa anti-cellulite kit. That aside, we left the salon feeling buffed, smooth and fresh-smelling. Dhs100, which can be redeemed against purchases of Shiffa products at the store. Sephora, The Dubai Mall (04 339 9828)
The ‘Get off my back’ massage
Duration: 30 minutes.
Best for: Stress relief and healing achy muscles.
The process: A variety of massage techniques were used on the neck, back and shoulder areas, providing a deep-tissue massage that offered relief where it was needed most. We felt at ease, and were confident that the efficient staff knew exactly what they were doing. Although rather painful at times, the deep pressure of the massage reassured us that it was doing the trick.
Results: Our therapist explained that this massage should be performed regularly to keep the affected areas loose and supple. We particularly liked it because it gave instant relief to our dodgy shoulder. Dhs170, Body Talk Spa & Fitness Centre, Mövenpick Hotel, The Walk at JBR (04 449 8888)
The back, feet, head or face massage
Duration: 25 minutes.
Best for: Those with aches and pains everywhere.
The process: Although face, feet and head options were available, we chose the back massage to relieve the stress of a morning of meetings. First, our feet were washed and we were immediately put at ease by the spa’s sleek surroundings. The massage was very gentle, but there was still enough pressure to ease the tension of a busy working week.
Results: After a power shower in the Ritz-Carlton’s pristine facilities, which also offer complimentary shaving foam, razors and hair gel (but no deodorant), we were ready to face another afternoon in the office, although an afternoon snooze would have been more fitting. The massage left us feeling relaxed and supple and, while it was great for a quick pick-me-up, 25 minutes seemed too short – we didn’t want it to end. Dhs275. Ritz-Carlton Spa, The Walk at JBR (04 318 6132)
The exfoliating scrub and paraffin dip for hands and feet
Duration: 20 minutes.
Best for: A spot of downtime during a trip to the mall.
The process: First up was a speedy hand and foot scrub – the therapist rubbed some gunk on our hands and feet and massaged them for 30 seconds to slough off dry skin. While relaxing, the same thing could probably have been accomplished at home with a tub of body scrub. The main attraction here was the quick paraffin dip, which involved dunking our hands and feet, one by one, into a steaming vat of melted wax. It was scorchingly hot, causing us to wince on more than one occasion, and our skin emerged coated in a thin layer of wax. We were then given some heated booties and mitts to wear for five minutes or so, to allow the paraffin to soak into our skin. Once removed, a quick hand and foot massage rounded off the treatment.
Results: The exfoliation was too short to be truly effective, but the paraffin dip left our hands and feet gorgeously soft and sweet-smelling – so much so that our flip-flops nearly slid off our feet on the way home. Dhs50 for hand and foot exfoliation; Dhs140 for paraffin dip for hands and feet. N.Style, various locations including The Dubai Mall, Downtown Burj Khalifa (04 339 8414)