Mandara Spa's muscle ease massage
The spa
Entry to some of Dubai’s more extravagant spas can be overwhelming, with water pools, scented candles and hundreds of doors and tunnels leading to various treatment rooms. But the Mandara Spa is simplicity itself, from the minimal reception area to the relaxation room, pleasant changing area with water fountain and similarly simple treatment room.

The promise
I’m here for the deep-tissue sports massage, designed to help sportsmen relax their muscles. It promises to increase flexibility, relieve tight and tired muscles, improve circulation and reduce recovery time.

Step by step
After a genuinely pleasant greeting (the receptionist even prefixes my surname, rather than my first name, with Mr), it’s a short consultation and quick ginger tea before I’m led to the male changing area and into the treatment room. The initial foot ritual includes a thorough scrub with pumice – as a sportsman, my feet suffer repeated abuse so they’re not my most attractive feature, but the treatment leaves them soft, supple and free of the usual hard edges. It’s then on to the massage table for a full-body rub-down, which focuses on working the knots out of my calves and hamstrings, before switching to my back and shoulders. Each part of the procedure is painful at first, but gets more enjoyable as the muscles are relaxed by expert hands. In fact, by the time the masseuse moves on to my arms, so relaxed am I that I almost nod off. I’m revived by mist being sprayed on my face, before being told my treatment is finished.

The results
I suffer from stiffness in my back as a result of tight hamstrings, something I specified during my consultation, so it’s disappointing that more time wasn’t spent on these two areas. But my shoulders and back feel noticeably more relaxed and supple the following day, and my feet are softer than they have been in years.

• The massage is not as uncomfortable as some deep-tissue sports treatments, ensuring it’s relaxing, rather than wince-inducing.
• The foot ritual is an added bonus for athletes with long-suffering feet.

• The masseuse may have taken it a bit too easy on me after I flinched slightly during pressure to a sore spot in my back. The masseuse obviously didn’t want to cause me any more pain, but it meant I missed out on the therapeutic benefits of a really deep massage.

Also try
The Grand Spa’s deep tissue massage aims to relieve severe tension.
Dhs370 for 60 minutes. Grand Hyatt Dubai (04 317 1234)

Feet First does reasonably-priced massages, including a deep-tissue treatment.
Dhs185 for 60 minutes. The Dubai Mall (04 339 9369)

The Spa offers a Philippine Hilot massage, which uses pure coconut oil.
Dhs450 for 90 minutes. Shangri-La Dubai (04 343 8888)

Mandara Spa’s Muscle Ease Massage is Dhs470 for 65 minutes. Until November 30, quote ‘Time Out’ when booking to get your second Muscle Ease massage free, or use the voucher. The Monarch Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 501 8888)