We get healthy with some of the city’s most soothing procedures
Time Out Dubai staff
Ahasees Spa polish and massage The spa
Formerly the Grand Spa, Ahasees is truly a transformation. Where once the spa felt more like an extension of the hotel’s fitness facilities, it now feels like one of the city’s most secluded pampering spots.
Ahasees’ spa menu, influenced by Dubai’s journey as a city, revolves around the themes of ‘trade’, ‘flourish’ and ‘evolve’. I opt for the ‘trade’ pearl balm polish and full-body massage, which promises to gently exfoliate, detoxify and renew with the help of seaweed and geranium, as well as awaken the energy flow, invigorate circulation and soothe my muscles.
Step by step
I arrive an hour before my appointment and am offered the option of having a foot massage in the relaxation room. By the time my therapist comes to collect me, I’m so relaxed I’ve almost fallen asleep. Once we get to the treatment room, my therapist applies the pearl balm scrub liberally to my limbs, exfoliating thoroughly. It’s a little painful, but I focus on the end goal – baby-smooth skin. After a quick shower, it’s on to the flotation bed, where I’m cocooned in mud body wrap and, erm, submerged – it turns out to be one of the strangest experiences of any of my recent spa visits, but it’s oddly enjoyable. Another shower and it’s time for my massage, and though it’s certainly relaxing, the invigorating nature of the scrub has left me feeling a little too awake to drift off.
As promised, my skin is thoroughly exfoliated and the whole experience has left me feeling awake and invigorated rather than relaxed and dozy.
• This is a great treatment if you’re looking for something energising rather than relaxing.
• The scrub is particularly coarse, which is perfect for those with super-dry skin.
• The treatment rooms are a little on the cool side.
• The shower takes ages to heat up, leaving me colder still.
Also try... Thai Privilege Spa
Try the exotic, exfoliating raspberry scrub followed by an aromatherapy massage, on offer during February.
Dhs399. Al Wasl Road (04 348 9679).
Opt for the 20-minute anti-ageing rose scrub followed by an 80-minute aromatherapy rose massage to enhance hydration, also on offer this month. Dhs600.
The Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 332 5555).
Pearl balm polish Dhs420 for 60 minutes, pearl balm massage Dhs450 for 60 minutes. Ahasees Spa and Club, The Grand Hyatt Dubai, Oud Metha (04 317 2333).
Chinese acupuncture The clinic
Right next door to City Hospital, the small clinic is simple, clean and typically Chinese – lucky red knots and diagrams illustrating acupuncture points adorn the walls, and dark-wood furnishings pervade.
Founded in 1669, Beijing Tong Ren Tang claims to have supplied medicine to China’s Imperial families since the Qing Dynasty. Today, the clinic blends ‘traditional techniques’ with modern science and technology.
Step by step
After being greeted with a herbal tea, I’m shown the ancient ginseng roots on display, which are incorporated into TRT Beijing’s (hugely expensive) herbal remedies. However, I’m here with a bad ankle, not to mention a nasty knot in between my shoulders, so have been booked in for an acupuncture session followed by an acupressure massage (tui na).
First, though, I need to sit down for a check-up. The kindly Chinese female doctor takes my pulse, checks my tongue, and gently massages the parts of my body I’ve complained about. We then head to the treatment room, where I’m ordered to undress. I’m unsure whether I heard the order correctly, but it’s barked at me again and I strip down to my underpants. I lie face down on the bed, and the doctor gently insert needles into pressure points between my shoulders. The sensation is odd, best described as a dull form of cramp, which becomes sharp as soon as one of the needles pierces one of the problematic areas.
My pain is apparently a result of blockages in the flow of energy (qi) around the body (via meridians), and the purpose of acupuncture is to rid the body of such blockages. Certainly, the needles in my ankle cause the greatest amount of discomfort – after a mild bout of panic on my behalf, I’m assured this is normal.
The needles are removed to make way for the tui na session, administered by a Chinese lady whose petite frame belies her strength. With unspeakable force, she works over my shoulders and legs, forcing me to grit my teeth so as not to yelp with pain. Yet the massage feels far more thorough than the ‘relaxing’ oily rubdowns offered by most Dubai spas.
Afterwards, the knot in my shoulder has been comprehensively beaten out, and the muscle that was hindering movement in my ankle certainly feels looser.
• It’s strange that I should feel so relaxed after being stabbed in various parts of my body and being so vigorously pummelled, but I do.
• The needles mean acupuncture is not for the squeamish.
• Though I feel much better after my treatment, the acupuncture leaves a dull ache around my ankle. However, three to five sessions of acupuncture or tui na are recommended, so don’t expect quick-fix results after just one.
Also try Synergy Integrated Medical Centre
Offers cupping and acupuncture as well as dietary massage.
Initial consultation Dhs500; follow-up Dhs300. Al Wasl Road, Umm Suqeim (04 348 5452).
Dhs200 for initial consultation, Dhs350 for a one-hour tui na massage. Beijing Tong Ren Tang, Dubai Healthcare City (800 826).
Mango Tropical Oasis treatment The salon
Spa Zen at the Radisson Royal looks slick, designed in dark, earthy tones that are surprisingly calming. It offers a wide range of treatments using Anne Semonin products, as well as the Pevonia Botanica range that’s alcohol-free and paraben-free.
The treatment claims to provide a ‘revolutionary anti-ageing experience’, promising to leave me with a healthier body and softer skin.
Step by step
Once in the treatment room, my therapist quizzes me about my lifestyle – everything from how much water I drink in a day to how often I exercise – then talks me through the treatment, which focuses on anti-ageing and nourishment.
I’m asked to lie face down and relax, and the session kicks off with a mango body scrub that fortunately is quite soft and doesn’t feel too grainy against my skin. After the exfoliation, I’m asked to rinse it all off and lie down again, this time for a ‘nourishing and moisturising’ body mask. While the aroma isn’t as strong as you’d expect (all-natural, after all), it has a subtle, relaxing scent. This is followed by a wrap – being cocooned in crackly paper isn’t the most comfortable of sensations, but I can’t complain – the heated bed is treating me well.
As I lie in my warm, fruity cocoon, the therapist then gives me a mini-facial using Pevonia products. After a quick cleanse, she’s already analysed the areas on my face that are prone to dryness. The facial isn’t particularly intense (there’s no extraction), but it’s still thorough and last for about half an hour. Afterwards I’m gently unwrapped and asked to rinse off again.
The treatment is topped off with a hot stone massage: my therapist uses a mix of long, languid strokes and quick, effective movements to release muscle tension.
I’m so relaxed I feel rather spaced out: my skin feels fresh and soft and smells amazing, and there’s an obvious glow to my face.
• The relaxation area is particularly nice – sleek interiors and comfy lounge chairs. I take it all in with a cup of ginger tea in hand.
• After the treatment, the therapist makes recommendations based on my skin type, and shows me products that work best with my skin.
• I love the organic, natural products.
• The lockers contain a small
vanity kit, alongside the customary robes and slippers – a nice touch.
• Prices are very reasonable considering the setting and service.
• The changing rooms are located a little way from the treatment rooms, so you have to pass the lobby in your robe (although you can change in the treatment room to avoid this).
Also try... Thai Privilege Spa
The scrubs and wraps use ingredients such as chocolate, blueberry, mango and more.
Dhs250 for 90 minutes. Al Wasl Road (04 348 9679).
The Ahasees Polish will refresh your skin in true Arabian style using desert sand, black tea and cardamom scrub.
Dhs420 for 60 minutes. Grand Hyatt Dubai, Oud Metha (04 317 1234).
The Spa at The Ritz-Carlton Dubai
The refreshing fruit infusion hydrotherapy baths promise to soothe and relax.
Dhs250 for 20 minutes. The Ritz-Carlton Dubai, Dubai Marina (04 399 4000).
Dhs750 for two and half hours. Quote ‘Time Out’ when booking and get 20 per cent off all spa services, excluding Valentine’s offers and products. Until February 29. Radisson Royal Hotel Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 308 0531).
Mystic Tan HD spray tan The promise
Using paraben-free products, the Mystic Tan spray-tan formula is apparently tailored to each client’s complexion, from a hint of a glow to a dark bronze. The fragrance-free bronzer base (promising none of that gross self-tan scent) has high concentrations of antioxidants, and the tanner can be customised with fragrances, temporary bronzer in a selection of shades, and an enhancer to prolong the colour.
The tanning booth
New to the UAE, this is a spacious booth with semi-transparent walls so you won’t feel claustrophobic. The nifty machine has voice automation to guide you through the tanning process, warming heaters to keep you comfy and reduce drying times, and is even self-cleaning after every treatment.
Step by step
Unlike some spray tans, where the therapist sprays you down or mans the machine, this is completely controlled by the customer. After choosing a medium shade to flatter my pasty skin tone, I also opt for a coconut and lime scented aroma capsule, and an enhancer to make the most of the promised glow. The preparations for the Mystic Tan are spelled out on the wall next to the booth, and look surprisingly simple: a matter of stripping off, protecting my hair with a net, and slathering blending cream onto dry areas such as hands, feet and elbows.
After that, it’s just a matter of getting in the booth (surprisingly spacious, like a tanning Tardis), waving my hand in front of the no-touch starting sensor, then following the simple spoken instructions. Standing on numbered footprints on the floor and holding my arms away from my body with fingers splayed, the machine counts down before enveloping me in the tan mist from bottom to top. I’m then told to turn to the right and instructed where to place my feet, before resuming the process once more. After each spray, a blast of warm air ensures I’m touch-dry. After four minutes or so, with four sprays from different angles, the session ends with another blast of air, leaving my skin dry enough for me to get dressed (pretty good compared with many self-tan treatments, where you wait an eternity for sticky lotions and creams to dry).
A glance in the mirror confirms that the temporary bronzer has done its job perfectly, giving me a subtle, healthy glow and a soft-focus sheen. My skin also smells like I’ve just applied a layer of body lotion, rather than smelly fake tan.
The base tan started to develop after a couple of hours, and darkened overnight. While the colour was intense (it promised around four shades darker than my normal skin tone), it was even and natural, with no streaks or splotches. The colour on my body lasted about seven days before fading, although my face faded faster, after four or five days.
• It’s foolproof enough for even novice fake-tanners to achieve good, streak-free results.
• The enhancer means the colour lingers (without any patchiness) a week or so later.
• It’s super-fast, with no stickiness or strange smell afterwards.
• The colour built up around my ultra-dry hands, but it’s nothing a bit more blending cream wouldn’t prevent next time.
4/5 Dhs190 (normal session, light), Dhs200 (normal session, dark). Add-ons include aroma (Dhs5), single bronzer (Dhs10), triple bronzer (Dhs15), and accelerator (Dhs30). Majesty Beauty Center, Villa 170B, Jumeirah Beach Road (04 344 1141).
V-Peel face peel in Dubai The spa
This homely villa spa on Beach Road is far from the hospital-style venue implied by the ‘medi-spa’ name: think gentle candlelight, comfy furnishings and a genuinely warm, friendly welcome from staff.
Facial peels work by using strong chemicals to strip the top layer of skin, encouraging it to peel and promoting the growth of healthy new skin. Benefits include a smoother complexion, fewer lines and blemishes, and treatment of acne. Many peels are renowned for being harsh on the skin, yet the new Vi-Peel claims to be gentler, promising that skin will recover in four days, while the peeling can be hidden with moisturiser.
Step by step
My therapist, Zvezda, sits me down for a thorough skin consultation and explains how the peel works – she says I can expect tingling, redness and the eventual peeling of my skin over the next 48 hours. She then cleanses my skin and wipes it with alcohol (‘to make sure all traces of oil are removed’). Next up is the acid solution, aka ‘the peel’: she warns me to expect a strong smell – the scent is like rather potent antiseptic. Luckily a second therapist is on hand with a portable fan to waft away the aroma and help to keep my skin cool.
Zvezda first performs a gentle sweep of the solution onto my face to check for adverse reactions; when none appear, she continues with four more layers. It starts tingly, then begins to feel like gentle pinpricks, but it’s more unusual than uncomfortable.
Half an hour later, it’s all over: Zvezda advises me not to wash the solution from my face for four hours, and gives me small tubes of moisturiser and sunscreen to apply regularly, along with an instruction leaflet. I’m also advised to buy cortisone cream from the pharmacy in case of adverse itching.
The results Day one
My skin looks red and irritated, although nothing like the sunburnt appearance I’d expected. It prickles uncomfortably during the night, and I use a few dabs of cortisone cream to calm the tingle.
I wake with a slightly blotchy face, but my colleagues assure me it isn’t too noticeable. The tingling has mercifully subsided.
My skin starts to peel, which is more annoying than painful. I hide the peeling with generous dollops of moisturiser.
Day four onwards
The peeling subsides, leaving me with a slightly uneven complexion. It calms over a week or so, and I notice my skin is a lot smoother, minus blemishes.
• The treatment itself is super-quick: 30 minutes turnaround.
• The recovery time is a lot faster than most peels, and the redness and peeling isn’t severe enough to leave me housebound for days.
• A week later, my skin looks younger, fresher and smoother.
• The solution has a strong smell that lingers on my clothes.
• I have a rather uncomfortable night post-peel; my skin prickles, keeping me awake.
• It’s a lot pricier than a facial, but the results are more noticeable, especially for those trying to treat discoloured or pigmented skin.
Also try... Kaya Skin Clinic
The Pigmentation Reducer Peel is designed to reduce discolouring.
Dhs550. Dubai Marina Walk (04 450 8438)
Try a smoothing fruit acid peel with glycolic acid.
Dhs600. Al Wasl Road (04 394 1090)
The Diamond Peel promises younger, more radiant skin.
Dhs895. Beach Road (04 344 4047)
Wrap and massage package The spa
Thai Privilege Spa is one of our go-to pampering spots thanks to its friendly staff, Far Eastern influences and great-value treatments. It has bundles more personality than some of the rather bland hotel spas, and the staff are Thai, so you know you’re getting the real deal. It even offers a free limo pick-up and drop-off service, so there’s no danger of losing your post-treatment calm getting stuck in traffic on the way home.
The spa’s new packages aim to leave you buffed, smooth and relaxed for the festive season: guests receive a Thai massage combined with a scrub or a wrap of their choice. We plump for the hibiscus and calendula wrap, which promises to remove toxins, eliminate dead skin cells, calm acne and boost collagen.
Step by step
After a friendly welcome, an explanation of the treatment and some form-filling, I’m led through the softly lit corridors to the foot ritual area, where my feet are washed. Then it’s upstairs to the treatment room and onto the massage table, where I lie face-down: my therapist thoughtfully places a rolled towel against my forehead to avoid that uncomfortable chafing. First up is the massage. I’m surprised at the order of service: in most combo treatments the massage comes last, but it seems to work best this way round, with the wrap rounding off the experience (it means I can shower post-treatment rather than in the middle, which can disrupt the relaxing mood).
The Thai massage that follows feels beneficial but not too painful – I particularly like the arm stretches and the thorough back work. Next I’m slathered in fresh-smelling hibiscus and calendula gloop, then wrapped in cling film (I feel a bit like a festive turkey). I panic momentarily when I feel an itch on my forehead that I’m unable to scratch, but my therapist saves the day with a blissful head massage. I don’t want it to end, so I’m marginally disappointed when I’m unwrapped and led to the washroom for a post-treatment shower.
After the treatment my skin feels softer and my muscles looser, although in hindsight the real benefit was the time I spent at the spa. For 90 minutes I was able to give my mind and body a rest, with no worrying about Christmas shopping, festive cooking or what to wear to the office party.
• The spa is fantastic, with great service and bags of personality.
• At just Dhs250 for a massage and a wrap, we’ll definitely be heading back for more.
• The free limo service ensures you return home blissfully relaxed.
• The spa’s petite size means there’s no extensive relaxation areas or wet facilities that you’d find in big hotel spas – instead, post-treatment refreshments are served in the reception area.
Also try... Natural Healing Wellness Spa
The Body Beautifier package features a detoxifying scrub followed by an aromatic massage.
Dhs480 for two hours. Al Wasl Road (04 348 3896)
SensAsia Urban Spa
Try a Thai Yoga Stretch massage for Dhs350, then add a milk and honey wrap for an extra Dhs225. Dhs575 for two hours.
Village Mall, Jumeirah (04 349 8850)
Choose four treatments from a list of eight, including a body scrub, back massage, head and shoulder massage and reflexology.
Dhs395 for two hours. The Aviation Club, Garhoud (04 282 8578)
Dhs250 for 90 minutes. Thai Privilege Spa, Al Wasl Road (04 348 9679)
Eyelash extensions in Dubai The spa
Until the opening of the new branch of Tilia & Finn in Emirates Towers (for which a date is yet to be set), eyelash expert Laila is seeing clients at N.Bar in the same venue. I’m led through the adjoining JetSet salon to a small treatment room.
Using Novalash extensions, Laila promises to give me a wide-eyed look that will last ‘between two and three weeks, depending on how regularly your lashes shed’. I don’t want to look over-the-top, but Laila assures me she aims for natural glamour, rather than the spidery style I’ve spotted around town.
Step by step
Once I’m lying down on the table under some rather bright lights, Laila cleans away my make-up.
She expects little else from me but to stay as still as I can while she separates my lashes and glues extensions to them. Having overcome my trepidation thanks to Laila’s encouragement, I’ve opted for the thicker of the two extension types. My eyes are closed throughout the treatment, and my bottom lashes are kept out of the way using two plastic pads. It’s a lengthy process and I find myself drifting off, spasming awake with my eyes wide open and apologising profusely for ruining everything. Laila laughs and tells me to relax.
After a quick blast with a hairdryer, Laila invites me to check out my new look. I’m apprehensive, but
a quick examination reveals a subtle change to my face – the lashes are long, but you wouldn’t think they weren’t my own. It merely looks like I’m wearing a great new mascara. Better yet, I feel ‘made-up’ enough that I don’t wear any make up for the entire first week after their application.
• There’s no need to think about mascara for at least two weeks.
• The lashes look natural and chic (though not so natural that you’ll feel your money was wasted).
• They’re much lighter than many other brands, so better for your real lashes in the long run.
• You can’t wash your eyes for the first 48 hours – difficult for those of us who enjoy vigorously scrubbing our faces in the shower.
• The process takes up to two hours – it’s a long time to lie still.
Also try... Tips and Toes
Offers full lash extensions, plus an after-care kit.
Full set Dhs500, after-care kit Dhs200. Various locations, including Amwaj 4, JBR (04 429 3477).
Sisters Beauty Lounge
Not only can you get a full set, but the salon also offers a removal service.
Dhs600 for extensions, Dhs75 for removal. The Dubai Mall (04 339 8500).
Beauty Connection Spa
For a short-term alternative, try the plaster set, or opt for longer-lasting extensions.
Dhs180 plaster set, Dhs400 full set individual. Oasis Tower, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 321 3553).
Dhs900 for full upper and lower, Dhs800 upper extensions. N.Bar, Emirates Towers (04 330 1001)
Jacques La Coupe salon The salon
This new venue in Galeries Lafayette is La Coupe’s second Dubai salon (the original, at The Address Dubai Marina, opened three years ago). This outlet is more low-key than the first: we like the clean white lines, circular design and reclining, massaging chairs at the basins. Owner Jacques learned his trade at La Coupe in Paris, and now has seven branches, in Lebanon, Qatar, Egypt and Dubai. Hair experts take note: the salon also sells top-quality Redken products from NYC, which can be tricky to find in Dubai.
Step by step
On arrival, Jacques has a quick chat with me about the condition of my hair and what exactly I want done: I ask for a general tidy-up and trim of my long locks, and a slightly darker, warmer colour. Jacques is super-friendly, helpful and knowledgeable, giving professional advice and suggestions: he recommends having the colour applied in layers, rather than a block shade, allowing my natural colour to mingle with the new shade and making regrowth less noticeable. Once the colour is mixed, he applies it using foils, then leaves me to flick through a pile of magazines (all bang up to date: top marks!).
Next it’s over to the sink, where one of his staff rinses out the colour, then she shampoos my hair as I recline in one of the massaging chairs (the most comfortable I’ve experienced in a salon). After noting that my hair is dry and brittle, she offers to use a deep conditioning treatment, which she applies using blissful head massage techniques.Then it’s back to the chair, where Jacques snips expertly at my split ends, then asks me to stand so he can get my fringe super-straight. After a blow-dry from one of Jacques’ colleagues, during which he explains how I can recreate the slightly wavy, beachy look at home, I’m left to inspect my new cut.
The rich brown shade is darker than I’d originally envisaged, yet it brings out the colour of my eyes, and I’m soon smitten with my new look. Jacques has followed my requests to a T, keeping the length on my
hair but tidying up my fringe (which is now, after months of neglect, finally poker-straight!).The conditioning treatment has also left my hair super-soft and shiny.
• The location at The Dubai Mall is convenient, with plenty of parking, and no need to venture outside and risk flyaway hair in the humidity.
• Staff are friendly, but equally happy to leave clients alone to relax with a magazine.
• Jacques is a genuinely nice guy and knows his stuff: his expertise means he can tailor clients’ requests to best suit their hair type.
• The price is towards the high end of the scale, although not excessively so (we guess it’s worth paying extra for the expertise).
Also try… Mariadowling
Renowned as the best colourist in the city, but you’ll need to book well in advance.
Haircut from Dhs280. Near Capitol Hotel, Satwa (04 345 4225).
Saks Hair Salon
Popular UK chain, also offering beauty treatments.
Haircut from Dhs350. The Palace, Downtown Dubai (04 430 8572).
Sisters Beauty Lounge
Buzzy salon with European and Aussie stylists.
Haircut from Dhs280. Various locations including The Dubai Mall (04 339 8500).
Cut and blow-dry from Dhs350, colour from Dhs350. Galeries Lafayette, The Dubai Mall, www.lacoupebeaute.com (04 382 7333 ext 2747).
Eve Lom facial at Raffles Spa The spa
A small but maze-like affair inside the great Raffles pyramid, the Raffles Spa is a haven of earthy tones, soft cotton and polished wood floors. The welcome is friendly and proactive, and not sneering as some more expensive spas can be.
Eve Lom’s signature cleanser has earned legendary status in the beauty arena – at one point Vogue declared its balm to be ‘probably the best cleanser in the world’. They’re setting the bar high – so by the time I’m lying on the heated treatment bed, I’m expecting something pretty darn special.
Step by step
Following a short consultation with my therapist, during which I shamefacedly admit to having not exfoliated for more than a month, I hop onto the bed and slink under a warm sheet. Once the bed has been adjusted by the touch of a few buttons (who knew there was a more comfortable position than simply lying flat?), the cleansing process starts using the famous balm. But it’s the next stage – the application of a paraffin wax mask – that I’m more intrigued by. Layer after layer of warm wax is applied (if you’ve ever dipped your finger in a recently blown-out candle, you’ll have some idea of how peculiar this feels) until my communication with the therapist becomes inhibited by the stiff, cool wax holding my face in place. The mask is slowly peeled off, opening my pores, then my therapist attacks blackheads before performing an acupressure massage on my face, chest and arms. After another mask, this time cool, which leaves the air heavy with the scent of eucalyptus and menthol, an ice-cold compress is applied to my face and chest to close the pores, followed by an eye cream and moisturiser designed for dry, thin skin.
Immediately afterwards my skin looks even and clear – the lack of scrub during the facial means there’s no blotchy redness. Several days later, the results are still visible and my skin feels more hydrated than it has in weeks.
• As there’s no scrub, this facial is suitable if you’re suffering from irritated skin or mild sunburn.
• The paraffin wax mask is a great way to lift off a layer of dirt and dead skin without any discomfort.
• Not only is it super cleansing, but the cream applied afterwards provides deep moisturising.
• The initial cleanser feels quite heavy on the skin, almost like having liquid fat applied to your face.
• If you’re squeamish about having your fingers squeezed during massage, this might not be for you.
Also try... Elche
This spa is best known for its superb facials, including Elche’s No.1 cleansing treatment – highly recommended.
Dhs795 for 120 minutes. Jumeirah Beach Road (04 349 4942).
Looking for something anti-ageing? Give this spa’s Pearl Caviar facial a go for firming and lifting.
Dhs1,200 for 90 minutes. Radisson Royal Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 308 0531).
Buy a 55-minute basil and mint body scrub and get the spa’s 25-minute deep-cleansing facial free.
Dhs550 for the massage. Until March 31. Jumeirah Emirates Towers (04 319 8181).
Dhs729 for 90-minute Eve Lom Signature Facial. Raffles Spa, Raffles Dubai (04 314 9869).
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.
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.
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)