Dreamworks (800 37326), The New Gold Souk Centre
What: Balinese massage and reflexology, 60 minutes for Dhs200
Why: Fed up with Dubai’s limp massages, British expatriate Peter Waller set up dreamworks; a one-stop-shop for all your stressed out/ vexed out needs. It’s maybe at this point that we’ll mention it’s a Balinese centre, and in keeping with their massage roots, these therapists mean business. Fluffy towels are exchanged for simple sheets, music is decidedly mellow (none of this panpipe nonsense) and kneading, crunching and cracking is par for the course. Despite sounding slightly distressing, its utter bliss.
All too often, Time Out has yearned for a firm hand. At times we’ve even spoken up, only to worry if we’ve irked the therapist (sweeping strokes can so easily become elbow digs), so it was refreshing to get a good old fashioned pummel for a fraction of the price. When it comes down to it, who needs a posh bathrobe when you feel as soporific as Maharishi Mahesh [the late Indian yoga guru] after a meditative stint?
Unsung hero: His name is Ketut Budarka and he hails from the much revered Grand Hyatt Bali. Any initial worries at having a male therapist (the centre is open to men and women) were soon quashed as Ketut kneaded away our press day woes. From that terrifying spinal crack to the masterful thigh pummel, he delivered a service that had us chilled out and standing up tall with a few dirhams to spare. Kudos to Ketut, we say.
Bliss Relaxology (04 286 9444), Garhoud
What: Reflexology, Dhs150 for 60 minutes
Why: Nestled in the heart of Garhoud (just holler, ‘backside Chili’s restaurant’ and that should get you there), Bliss Relaxology isn’t instantly welcoming. If the hum of the nearby sushi restaurant, Tokyo On The Rocks isn’t enough to dissuade you from entering its dusty exterior, then the cacophonous traffic will probably have you doing a U-turn to the nearby Park Hyatt Dubai. But for those that venture behind its dusty facade, the benefits far outweigh any initial concerns.
All therapists are accredited by Thailand’s Ministry of Education and after negotiating the rickety stairway to the massage booths, the décor smacks of their native country: Simple mattresses are separated by cotton curtains, leaving the faint whiff of Thai massage oils to lull you into a deep slumber.
Unsung hero: She goes by the tag of DuangTa – no surname, just the aforementioned forename – and so expert is her massage technique that she is a hard lady to come by. For anyone (the centre is open to men and women) who has had a bash about at Ski Dubai or feels a little tender after a stint in the gym, she’s your lady.
Cut Above (04 344 6444), The Jumeirah Centre
What: Reflexology, Dhs120 for 35 minutes
Why: If aesthetics are your thing then do a swift U-turn to the nearby Burj Al Arab, for the reflexology unit at Cut Above is no aromatherapy-infused sanctuary. But once you get over the peeling paint and mildly clinical air (there’s a host of anatomical diagrams dotted about), you’ll be hard pushed to leave vexed.
It’s one of those places where you just need to close your eyes. The millisecond that happens, you could very well be in a five-star establishment, for the expert hands of the therapists are second to none. Reflexology is all about pressure points and the girls (it’s ladies only) use their hands, fingers, thumbs and elbows to locate a host of ailments, including stomach issues, liver tenderness and even eyebrow stress (allegedly caused by a furrowed brow) to a tee. Whatever your issue, the therapist will advise a course of action – applying pressure to your eyebrows can alleviate tension apparently –- leaving you positively skipping past the shabby décor on your way out.
Unsung hero: Lucy Yunlui oozes warmth. Straight from the heart of China’s Beijing, she has been practicing the art of reflexology for 20 years. And it shows. So much that she has a throng of Jumeirah dwellers literally queuing at her door for her services. Sadly she has just been in a nasty car accident, so is currently off work, but assures Time Out that she’ll be up and running in a few months – if just to stop her bevy of fans from badgering her.