So Spa, Sofitel Downtown
Life in any cosmopolitan city is fast-paced and can be very stressful. And feeling a bit burnt out after a busy few weeks, I decided I needed to be pampered and headed straight to the So Spa, which I’d heard gives particular attention to the spa needs of men.
Walking in, I was greeted with low lighting, soothing music and soft smells, which created an relaxing ambience.
On recommendation of a (particularly chilled-out) friend I booked The Gentlemen’s Escape, which consists of a 90-minute massage and a facial. My therapist explained that he’d start with the foot massage then move on to a deeply relaxing back massage. I could feel the tension just ebb away from my body with every stroke. And it was amazing how a bit of attention paid to my feet lowered my stress levels instantly.
Next came the Thermal Back bubble treatment, which uses the mineral mud made from clay (for cleansing) and sea salts (re-mineralizing). I have never experienced anything like it before. A patch was applied to my trouble areas and I could feel the bubbles melting away painful knots and tension built up from my desk job.
After this treat I was ready for my facial. ‘All the products used are from the line of Anne Semonin starting with the micronized peeling powder for nourishing, replenishing and healing the skin and modelling butter to hydrate and regenerate,’ my therapist said. After the products were massaged into my face and neck a peel was applied to induce cell renewal, and then finally a post-peel neutralizing mask was applied to balance the skin pH and restructure the skin to restore its protective barrier function. I left a different man and vowed when the stress levels rise I’ll be back to reboot at So Spa.
The Gentlemen’s Escape, Dh675 ( 90 mins ), So Spa, Sofitel Downtown Hotel. Call 04 503 6333
Balance and Well-being 360, Oasis Centre, Dubai
It’s that time of year when we recognise the importance of our father figures. But if Dad isn’t the type for parties or picnics, then perhaps a little pampering is in order. If this is the case, the Balance and Well-being spa offers the chance to catch up on some much-needed me-time.
I decided to try the sports massage with its soothing deep-muscle stretching and strengthening techniques. After being led through the tranquil lounge area, I decompressed in the steam room as aromatherapy eases the toil and tension from the hectic pace of the city and in dad’s case, family fretting. After rinsing off in the tropical rain shower, I was led to the chill-out zone where I relaxed on the cosy stone-beds, which are surprisingly comfy – so much so that I found myself drifting off to the soft background music.
Luckily, by this time my masseuse was ready to lead me into the therapy room. After a foot scrub, the good stuff really began. I was offered the option of light, medium or deep pressure massages (I guarantee most men will go for the toughest option, just because) and the therapist got to work, focusing on specific areas of tension and niggles across my shoulders and back.
Moving from the back down to the legs, the masseuse uses a swift and steady technique, working the muscles thoroughly to ensure any squash- and football-related aches and twinges were alleviated. After soothing the soles of the feet, the therapist worked back up to the head and face, keeping me on the edge of consciousness.
Once I was practically floating above the treatment table the therapist gently coaxed me back down to earth before leading me back to the lounge where I snacked on cookies and warming ginger and lemon tea.
This spa doesn’t shimmer and shine with opulent decor or drape you with superfluous accessories, but it offers something Dad is probably craving much more, a stress-annihilating scrub down and a chance to disconnect from the outside world.
Signature Sports massage, Dh375 (60 mins), Balance and Well-Being 360. Call 04 384 7010
Skinny Beach package, Sensasia Urban Spa
An intriguing thing I read was how many inches I could lose by trying out Sensasia’s Skinny beach treatment. Two inches apparently! And a dress size. Ooh-er!
After a few too many nice dinners and desk snacking at work, I decided to go for it. Swayed also by the fact the package includes a Hot Salt & Pepper SensPolish scrub and the ‘workaholic head and a neck massage’.
The inch-loss promise seemed too good to be true, but I thought if it helps me squeeze into my favourite holiday shorts on the next family holiday (they haven’t fit for a couple of years now) it was worth a try.
The treatment started off with the body scrub, which combines rock salt, ground pepper and oils, then a quick shower and I was ready for a full hour of shrinkage to begin. My therapist Ronnie took my measurements – chest, waist, arms and legs – then brushed my body with special oils packed with active ingredients and soya bean extract. Out came a large roll of cling film and I was wrapped in it from just below my neck down to my toes. Feeling more than a little silly I was then laid down on the bed and covered with a heated blanket whilst the oils worked their magic. I felt like I’d been seasoned, wrapped and was ready to pop into the oven at gas mark six!
Whilst the oils penetrated my skin I had the workaholic massage, which must have been good because I fell into a deep sleep; all that pampering had got the better of me. As for the big reveal? I lost a whopping 15.5cm – mostly from my waist and hips. Ronnie told me to drink lots of water and not to shower or go to the gym in the next 12 hours to keep all the oils in place. But I was so thrilled with my trimmer waist I was barely listening. Forget my old shorts, I’m off to buy a new pair!
Skinny Beach package from Dh1,100 (90 mins) Sensasia Spa Urban Spa. www.sensasiaspas.com
Remede Spa, St Regis Abu Dhabi
When I entered the spa my first reaction was: ‘Wow!’ The huge bright reception area reminded me of a Miami-inspired hotel lobby. Long, sheer ceiling-to-floor drapes sectioned off areas of the space. Plump white armchairs huddled around small tables that hinted at a modern and very light gentleman’s club.
I was greeted by my therapist with a refreshing mint tea and some dried fruit before my 50-minute muscle-ease massage began. I’ve been hitting the gym recently and combined with my desk job my shoulders were feeling pretty tense.
After being led through the labyrinth of corridors and shown to the male changing area, I entered the dimly lit treatment room – my oasis for the next hour or so.
I was given a choice of three oils that would energise, sooth or relax. I opted for the relaxing option, with a scent of lavender. I could feel the warm oil being gently massaged in to my feet first then the therapist worked up my legs. Face down on the bed, the pressure was perfect and my whole body soon let go of all the tension that had built up. I could smell the oil and listened to soothing tunes, inhaling three large breaths as I rolled over for the treatment to continue on my front.
With my eyes closed I could really feel the benefits; my shoulders felt open and looser. As the treatment finished, warm towels were placed over my body and I was left to relax for a few moments. ‘I may well fall asleep,’ I said as I was left alone. And I did instantly fall into a deep sleep only to be woken by the therapist’s offer of another herbal tea. Giggling, she also told me, ‘Sir, you do snore very loudly’, to which I replied, ‘I did warn you!’ I guess it was proof it worked.
Muscle-ease massage, Dh500 (50 mins), Remede Spa. Call 04 694 4100 or e-mail email@example.com