Perhaps unfairly, I always expect a little more from spas and hotels on the Palm Jumeirah. As I’m led through the Kempinski to the Cinq Mondes spa, the cold marble (and little else) leaves me feeling slightly underwhelmed. The spa itself is pleasant yet forgettable.
Ayurvedic massage claims to restore energy and vitality by identifying areas of high tension around the body and focusing on those areas – this treatment uses a hot sesame oil massage. I’m told the treatment is an Indian ritual that is a thousand years old.
Step by step
After changing into a robe and slippers that are far too small for me (does no Dubai spa cater for the taller gentleman?), I meet my smiling masseuse, who asks me to point out any problem areas. I tell her I play a lot of sport yet rarely stretch properly before or afterwards, which leaves my hamstrings feeling tight and affects my overall flexibility. The therapist starts slowly at first, gently massaging the backs of my legs and targeting my hamstrings, before gradually moving on to my arms, shoulders and back. The hot oil creates a different, more invigorating sensation than some massages designed to relax the body.
As the massage progresses, she soon discovers an area of discomfort around my shoulder blades that I didn’t know about. After spending more time massaging the rest of my back, arms and legs, she returns to my shoulder-blade area and works on what she describes as ‘nodules’ until my shoulders feel much less tense. When my treatment is over, she tells me I should continue to have regular massages on the area.
Thai or sports massages have, in the past, left my body feeling tired and aching immediately afterwards, while more relaxing treatments have left me feeling lethargic and sleepy. But after the ayurvedic massage (which lasted 80 minutes and felt like 20), I feel more awake and energetic almost immediately. The feeling lasts all day, until I exercise that evening.
• The massage targets specific problem areas of the body, so the effects are more noticeable than a massage that may focus on more widespread muscle groups.
• I’m impressed with the pre-treatment consultation and the advice I’m given afterwards.
• The treatment includes massaging of my fingers, toes and even ear lobes, although the time would have been better spent on tense, more muscular areas of my body.
Ayurvedic massage Dhs500 for 50 minutes, Dhs700 for 80 minutes. Cinq Mondes Spa, Kempinski Hotel, Palm Jumeirah (04 444 2400).
Al Shifa Ayurvedic Treatment Centre
Try the full-body ayurvedic massage at this reasonably priced centre.
Dhs150. New Kuwaiti Building, Naif Road, Deira (04 273 4749).
Breath and Health
This holistic spa does a fantastic head massage.
Dhs200 for 30 minutes, Dhs300 for 60 minutes. Al Wasl Road (04 348 9940).
Dubai Herbal and Treatment Centre
Therapists from India perform great treatments here.
Full-body massage Dhs250. Oud Metha (04 335 1200).