Images of sand, high rise glass buildings, great night life, amazing hotels and restaurants come to mind when one thinks of Dubai. Located along the Persian Gulf, Dubai, one of the seven emirates of the UAE, has a reputation for indulging in the excess of everything. Just as the Olympics strives for faster, stronger and higher, it would not be incorrect to say that this city aims for bigger, taller and shiner! The buildings touch the sky and the designs of the skyscrapers leaves little to doubt that ambition here is on steroids.
All of my trips to this great city have had 2 things in common, experience the best in spas and launch an expedition into the shopping arena armed only with my trusty American express, well someone has to save the economy! As per the latest research (my charge card statement, the economy should have recovered by now). During my most recent trip to Dubai, I spent three glorious days lapping in luxury at Raffles Dubai.
It opened its doors to the public in late 2007 and true to its iconic name, it stands out as a beacon for luxury. The hotel features a striking pyramidal design inspired by ancient Egyptian architecture, similar décor welcomes the guests to the lobby of the hotel, resembling ancient Egypt’s glory. Without wasting much time I got myself booked into the Amrita spa to experience some amazing treatments that they had to offer.
Amrita spa, part of the luxury brand of the Raffles group of hotels is a haven of living well, a unique oasis of relaxation featuring rejuvenating treatments, inspired from Asian, Middle Eastern and European traditions. The spa’s name Amrita – meaning an elixir that grants the gift of living well – somehow sent a sublime message to me that my mind and body were in for some divine treat.
The long flight in to Dubai and the mall walkabout had taken some toll on the feet, the day’s want was some good ol’ fashioned reflexology to ease the pain away. Day one was all about my feet. I first got introduced to reflexology around 10 yeas back in Malaysia when one of my friends took me to a local ‘sensei’, an old Chinese master. He used oriental oils with strong aromas to massage and apply pressure on various points of the feet. Since then I have been hooked onto this ancient massage technique.
Amrita had just what I was in need of, an hour long reflexology session that put the feet at easy in a short period of time. The therapist, well trained in the art, explained the reflex points on the feet and hands links to the various regions and organs of the body. Stimulation of these points tends to restore and relax the whole person, not just the prevailing aches or pains. The therapist used Kerstin Florian’s Fub Balm, an intense mixture of menthol, rosemary and pine to help nourish and protect the skin. I was almost disappointed when the therapist finished one feet and moved on to the next. After more kneeding and pressing my feet felt light and refreshed.
The heat of the desert got to me on the second day and I chose to spend the afternoon on a body treatment. The spa menu had quite a few options to choose from including one done in a botanical garden, a extension of the hotel. After a brief discussion with the expert at hand, I went in for the Thermal Mineral Aroma Wrap, an hour long wrap and mini facial using the Kerstin Florian range of products.
The therapist explained that Raffles Amrita spa has been the first spa in the Middle East to feature the Kerstin Florian skin care range. A distinguished brand, it specializes in using natural resources including thermal mineral water, mud, algae, herbal extracts and essential oils in their products. The products are similar to what Body Essentials or similar exclusive brands had to offer with focus on using lesser amounts of chemical preservatives and more of organic bases.
The treatment began with the therapist first applying a luxurious application of Kerstin Florian’s Harmony Oil and Remineralizing Body Crème to hydrate the skin and promote detoxification. This was followed by a wrap. The oil and crème relieved muscle tension while moisturizing the body. During the wrap I enjoyed a mini facial using the Spirulina Cleansing Gel and Thermal Mineral Moor Mud Masque. The experience was topped off with a scalp and facial massage.
At Raffles Amrita spa, all booked treatments came with a complementary full day access to the sauna, steam, jacuzzi, fitness centre and pool. Its always pleasing to know that one can laze around in the pool or jacuzzi enjoying a drink or two and de-stress after spending a tough hour being pampered in luxurious treatments and massages!
Day three did not go as planned. I had planned for an Emirates Executive facial but my aching body screamed BODY MASSAGE (the night before had been draining, two late night parties with old friends meant snooze time starting an hour before sun rise). I opted for the aromatherapy massage for 90 mins with their signature Relax Aromatherapy Associates massage oil. Now there is a difference here, all spas offer various types of massages with combinations of oils and salts, varying styles in similar layouts while offering various degrees of luxury. The differentiating factor that amplifies a customer’s satisfaction – a properly trained therapist. I have seen a fair few luxury resorts with a price tag for treatments that could easily finance a decent holiday for two and use of organic ingredients that could very well have been gathered by the great sages form ages gone by, the expectations are build up and then they are brought crashing back to the ground a few minutes into the therapy, all because the therapist doesn’t have a clue what he is doing and starts faking it. Rest assured this is not the case at Amrita Spa. The therapists know what they are doing, are highly trained in every aspect of the spa experience and understand customer’s requirements.
All in all, the experience at the Amrita spa was amazing. One expects nothing less from a legend such as Raffles and the experience exceeds one’s expectation. It is thus no surprise that guests arrive as residents, leave as friends and return as family.