Fish reflexology, snake massage and leech treatments - welcome to the weird world of spas
There’s a whole raft of bizarre animal-related treatments working their way across the globe, so in anticipation of their arrival to the emirate (it’s only a matter of time), Anna Whitehouse dishes the dirt.
The skinny: Demi Moore was recently on The Late Show With David Letterman in the US, raving about a treatment she received in Austria that involved four ‘highly trained medical leeches’. Be prepared, though, because in this service, there will be blood. As the leeches bite the skin and suck away, their saliva is said to increase circulation and detoxify your system. To be fair, there’s a few marshes and wet spots around the globe that can offer as similar service for free, but we’re assuming the flumpy towels and mug of green tea at the end of it all are much needed.
Local reaction: ‘It sounds like something they would do in La-la Land,’ says Katrina Valente, facialist at Synergy Medical Centre. ‘I don’t know who would really want to do that, and I wouldn’t want to subject myself to dealing with leeches.’
Until it comes to Dubai, try the Sea Recovery Detoxifying Body Treatment, Dhs799 at Raffles Amrita Spa (04 324 8888), Raffles Hotel. The wrap is said to stimulate the lymphatic system to purge toxins, while sea salt crystals remove dead skin cells. Or the Oxygen Therapy Facial, Dhs1,200 at Synergy Medical Centre (050 565 7679) pummels atomised moisturisers into the skin, leaving you positively peachy.
Bull-semen hair treatment
The skinny: ‘Viagra for hair’ couldn’t be a more fitting description for Hari’s Aberdeen Organic treatment at London department store Harrods. Aberdeen-Angus bull semen is mixed with Iranian plant root katera to create a hair mask alleged to improve thickness, strength and sheen.
Local reaction: ‘What do they do to get that?’ says Maria Dowling, of mariadowling salon. ‘I doubt, considering how conservative Dubai is, we could sell that [treatment], but if it’s working for them…’
Until it comes to Dubai, try the Kerastase Mask Intense Treatment, Dhs120 at mariadowling Salon (04 345 4225), Satwa. It’s recommended for folks with chemically treated, damaged or frizzy hair. Composed almost entirely of keratin-rich proteins, the formaldehyde-free treatment aims to reduce frizz by 90 per cent.
Bird poo facial
The skinny: The Geisha Facial at New York’s Shizuka Day Spa incorporates an alleged trick-of-the-trade among Kabuki actors and geishas to brighten and soften the skin: aestheticians apply UV-light-sanitised and powdered nightingale droppings, mixed with rice bran to the face.
Local reaction: ‘I think Dubaians are open-minded and sophisticated, and if there was good science behind it, I think they would try it,’ says Mona Mirza, managing director at Biolite. ‘A lot of very effective ingredients come from nature; I certainly wouldn’t sniff at it.’ Until it comes to Dubai, try the Radio Frequency Treatment, Dhs650 at Biolite (04 375 2122). The high-wave radio frequency smoothes lines and softens skin, leaving you footloose and fancy free.
The skinny: Some spas around the world are adding some ‘slickness’ to a traditional massage to relax clients’ aching muscles: Six non-venomous snakes slip-slide down your spine, leaving you lulled into a reptile-induced slumber.
Local reaction: ‘We’re always looking for the latest treatment that’s going to give guests the element of relaxation while still being unique,’ says Tracy Lord, spa director at the InterContinetal Dubai. ‘[This service] will certainly get press, but I don’t think it’s what our guests are looking for. We find that back-to-basics [treatments are] always what prevail.’
Until it comes to Dubai, try the Lemongrass Back Treatment, Dhs380 at Spa InterContinental (04 701 1111), InterContinental Dubai. While there may not be any reptiles in the mix, the skin is steamed with lemongrass oil before a sage and mint pack is applied to the skin.
The skinny: In this treatment, popular in Singapore spas, such as the Sentosa Hotel, clients dip their feet in a warm pool for 20 minutes, where Turkish fish gently eat away dead skin. The treatment is said to leave tootsies smooth and exfoliated.
Local reaction: While we think this service has the most realistic chance of making an appearance in a Dubai spa, it might take a bit more convincing to sway Salina Handa of SensAsia Spa. ‘Well, I guess if there’s a restaurant in town where you can eat sushi overlooking a ski slope, there could be a spa where piranhas eat your dead skin off,’ she jokes. ‘Seriously, I cannot imagine this treatment ever being offered in Dubai. Way too creepy.’
Until it comes here, try the Rosewood & Lavendar Foot Scrub, Dhs45 at SensAsia Spa (04 349 8850), at The Village Mall. Instead of allowing little critters to nibble at your crusty feet, the treatment includes reflexology to leave you Zen-like and standing tall.