Pain in the...

A visit to the spa sometimes involves more than you bargained for

The Knowledge

Over the past four years, I’ve been lucky enough to have had more spa treatments than I can count. I’m not exaggerating – I lounge around in a robe so often that I’ve started signing myself in at reception as Rocky.

And I’m not the only one who dabbles in robe-and-slippers action in this city. Dubai is famed for its affordable treatments, meaning most can relish a little R&R.

However, my list of treatment traumas also reads like a WWE superstar’s medical report: I’ve been prodded, twisted, slapped and near-suffocated, all in the name of beauty.

For reasons beyond me, I tend to keep my mouth shut in these situations, even if things start to go awry. Instead, I begin wishing away the pain with the power of my mind (which I now realise is obviously lacking in any horse power).

One massage was particularly wince-inducing. The therapist begun hunting down knots on my back like an orangutan grooming its baby, using all her weight to squeeze, squoosh and grind my flesh to what felt like a pulp of blood and bones. At one point I think my brain actually began releasing serotonin to overcome the trauma on my body.

On a separate occasion I was lathered up with honey at a Dubai spa. All was going well until the therapist began liberally applying it to my face… and eyelids. I’ve since discovered that getting honey in your eyes is a little like shoving your face in a bath of superglue. It was almost impossible to open my eyes and when I did, my vision was blurred for a good 15 minutes.

But that paled in comparison to what I experienced during a treatment that promised to target cellulite. With an open hand and serious vigour, the therapist began slapping my upper thighs silly, until I actually became numb and lay rigid on the table, flinching at her every move. And I hadn’t even talked back this time.

A panic-inducing experience finally gave me the guts to speak up during treatments. I nearly suffocated (well, sort of) on the massage bed at one of Dubai’s most famous hotels, after I discovered the therapist had covered the bottom of the face hole with towels (was she expecting my face to melt?).

Still, nasty surprises or not, I still can’t see myself hanging up my robe just yet. A woman has to look groomed in this town. Right?

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