One & Only spa review

Karen Iley samples the Tiger Shell Treatment at the new One&Only The Palm

The spa

Entering the One&Only Private Spa on the Palm, a stunning sanctuary within an equally stunning hotel, has an instant calming effect. Airy and bright, with tinkling water features and super-chic, minimalist decor, it’s the ultimate luxurious escape. Each of the beautiful, spacious treatment suites feature plush shower facilities and private courtyards, and the vast couples suite, complete with private lounge, double bathroom, hammam-style scrub facilities and rhassoul steam room, leaves me speechless. My entire family could move in here and I don’t think anyone would notice.

The promise

One of three signature offerings using ESPA products, the Tiger Shell Treatment is a two-hour top-to-toe relaxation ritual to rejuvenate the skin and restore vitality to mind and body. As my therapist, Wajieda, describes in exquisite detail the body massage (‘like a warm cocoon’), nourishing anti-ageing facial and therapeutic scalp massage, I can’t help but squeal ‘yippee!’

Step by step

After correctly diagnosing my skin as dry, Wajieda whets my appetite with a ‘sniff test’ to determine which oils she’ll use, explaining that I’ll automatically be drawn to those that my skin is craving. Apparently my body is crying out for nourishment (the nourishing oil, that is, not a hefty bowl of pasta), while my face needs replenishing. She shows me the tiger shells, which warm up naturally with a lavender-scented lava gel – much like hot stones, these help release deep-seated muscle tension. For a blissful hour of full-body massage, Wajieda alternates between her hands and the shells (they slide across my skin like silk). The pressure is pretty soft and I nod off occasionally, but she hones in with more force on my knotty shoulders and lower back. The facial is similarly divine, with Wajieda gently focusing on the pressure points as she massages in the replenishing oil. She layers on a cooling peel-off menthol and Argan oil mask, which allows the oil to penetrate more deeply and, while that’s doing its job, combs a mask of clay, apricot kernel and refreshing watercress oil through my hair. As she massages my scalp, I wonder if I’ve died and gone to heaven.


• The entire experience is a real treat – an indulgent ritual from start to finish.
• The treatment really nourishes both the mind and body. I’m well and truly relaxed and have the best night’s sleep for ages.


• It’s not for those seeking deep-tissue therapy (but if you’d read the spa menu and spoken to the staff, you’d know that).


Mentally, the results are instant. I feel happy, content and utterly relaxed – even on the rush-hour drive home – and have that inner glow that only pampering in the extreme can achieve. Physically, I see a small improvement in brighter eyes, a fresher face and the feeling that I’ve given my body a good drink, but it’s tempered by that slightly bedraggled post-spa look and ‘scary hair’ from the mask. I sleep like a log and awake feeling mentally rested, my body more fluid. Friends say I look less tired and, post-shower, my face feels plump and my hair is definitely softer and more manageable.

The Tiger Shell Treatment costs Dhs895. One&Only Private Spa, One&Only The Palm (04 440 1040)

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