Decisions, decisions… they seem to weave their way into our daily routine whether we like it or not. From the moment the alarm goes off (to snooze or not to snooze?), until you unlock the front door when you get home from work (to cook or order takeaway?), those pesky little choices just don’t seem to go away. Some make you feel guilty, others leave you with a sense of apprehension, and far too many add just a little more stress to those already tipping scales.
Now if my stress levels rise any more, I think I’d be submerged. I’m often found declaring to colleagues, “Guys, this a perfect example of not working well under pressure”. I’m strung-out, overworked, pulled in a million directions and have no idea how the amazingly talented people around me manage the impossible task known as ‘work-life balance’.
Perhaps it was noted that I desperately needed some me-time, which would explain why a spa brochure, coupled with a red flag, suddenly appeared in my email inbox. Coming from a woman who barely has time to check emails, I admit not only did I open the link, download the PDF and take the time to read through all the information, but I enjoyed a decision-making process.
This new world, characterised by soft-sounding words like ‘healing’, ‘detoxifying’ and ‘soothing’, was fun. And the knots in my neck seemed to be unravelling simply by reading the brochure.
So I picked up the phone, called the The Spa at The Address Dubai Marina, and made a giant leap for womankind, into the world of ‘looking after number one’.
The Spa at The Address Dubai Marina is in perfect tandem with the rest of the hotel. It’s a graceful fusion of contemporary cool and traditional therapies, exuding sophistication with its sleek, minimalist design, low lighting and quiet serenity.
Arriving 15 minutes or so before your treatment is advisable, so you can take advantage of the steam and sauna rooms – something that is recommended before most treatments. I was on time, for a change, and managed to enjoy the thermotherapy facilities, before being whisked into another room of calm and sanctity.
The dark mahogany treatment rooms transport you into another world, far away from the stresses and strains of everyday life.
Once there, my therapist talked me through the treatment, describing the oils and gels, and explaining their natural properties.
First came an exfoliating scrub made from finely ground olive grains mixed with pink grapefruit, rosemary and juniper berries. Grapefruit is renowned for its detoxifying benefits and anti-inflammatory properties, while rosemary increases circulation and stimulates the immune system. Perfect for my overworked and battered defence walls.
As for the scrub, after a shower to remove the beads, my skin felt positively youthful, silky, soft, smooth and spotless.
Next I was lathered with a gel made from similar ingredients, before being cocooned in a plastic wrap and layered with a swaddle of warm blankets. The warmth helps your skin absorb the oils.
Then I was given a head massage. There are a lot of nerve endings in the scalp, making it a great spot for stress relief. That said, after lying down for 50 minutes surrounded by the fragrant smells of zesty grapefruit and rich woody juniper, coupled with the soothing treatment and the soft pan-pipe sounds, I would have needed a map and compass to find the word tension! As for my skin, once the wrap was peeled away, it felt richly moisturised, refreshed, soft and hydrated.
After the treatment, I was escorted to a relaxation area, where I was offered a choice of ginger or ginger and lemongrass tea and a selection of dates and fruits. This was a chance to prepare myself to enter the real world again.
Leaving the hotel, I found myself smiling at people around me and life seemed to be a tad slower than usual. I hopped into my car, hit Shaikh Zayed Road and quickly realised my next appointment may be sooner than I thought!
Details: Citrus Detox Reviver, 50 mins, Dh450.
Call 04 4367424 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The speedy weight loss fix
Just before going on an indulgent holiday, I looked at my unsightly bulges and decided I had to do something to wow my folks back home. With very little time (three weeks to be exact), beginning a crazy workout schedule was out of the question. I needed a quick makeover – a magic workout that required minimal time and sweat, yet still sculpted my body.
Jumeirah-based Elche Beauty Salon’s Speedfitness treatment, which guarantees a full-body workout with just 15 minutes of exercise twice a week, seemed just the thing to fit into my time frame. So I booked in, and the salon’s assistant manager, Gabi Leb, explained the treatment to me.
Speedfitness is a new German technology where electrodes, which work all the muscle groups simultaneously, are attached to the arms, thighs, abdomen, bottom and back, meaning you only need to work out for 15 minutes twice a week to get the effect of a full gym schedule.
The system shapes muscles, burns fat, reduces cellulite, stimulates lymphatic drainage and protects joints from the wear and tear that comes with high-intensity workouts.
I signed up for the Speedfitness training and Elche’s Anti-Cellulite Vacuum therapy, to maximise my body-sculpting efforts. The latter is a manual massage using Chinese techniques along with a cupping vacuum method, which breaks up the toxin-containing fat cells that cause cellulite.
In the three weeks before my holiday, I went to both the Speedfitness and Anti-Cellulite Vacuum therapy twice per week. The experience was fantastic. On the first day, I was given a zip-up, body-hugging vest and hooked up to the electrodes, which were attached to a machine.
My instructor directed the 15-minute workout, requiring me to tense my muscles every four seconds while the machine pulsed, then rest, and then start tensing when the machine started up again. The workout was short and without any pain or stress, although I was sweating by the end of it. It did the trick, as within two workouts, I felt the vest loosening and my triceps and biceps firming up. My abdomen flattened in four sessions.
Meanwhile, each session of the Anti-Cellulite Vacuum therapy involved a herbal cellulite treatment wrap, followed by a vacuum massage, done diligently by master masseuse Andrea. At the end of each session, I could feel the lumps of lard around my body reducing, while my lymph glands felt stimulated. The sessions were a bit uncomfortable, but excellent for coaxing the cellulite and toxins out of the body.
At the end of both treatments, I lost a total of 35.5cm from all over my body, and three kilograms of weight. Had I continued the treatment for a couple of months, I think that it would have worked even greater wonders.
So does this mean you can cancel your gym membership? Well, traditional workouts may be good for you, but if you are looking for a quick fix to melt away some bulges, this can certainly work.
Details: Elche Speedfitness, Dh275 per session, Dh195 for a taster, or Dh2,500 for a package of ten. Anti-Cellulite Vacuum, 120 mins, Dh595, or seven sessions for Dh3,750. Elche Beauty Salon, Jumeirah Beach Road. Call 04 3494942
or email email@example.com.
The de-stressing scrub and massage
It was the day before I was set to leave Dubai to get married, and I was feeling what you might call, ‘highly strung’. The vows weren’t written yet, I couldn’t sleep for nightmares about my dress being the wrong colour, and to top it all, an allergic reaction to a ‘beauty’ treatment meant my face had swollen up like a hamster’s. So far, so disastrous.
Given my luck, it was a potentially foolhardy decision to even leave the house, but I’d booked this massage and I was certainly in need of some relaxation.
I doubt the nice ladies at Nails Organic Spa are accustomed to receiving stressed out, chipmunk-faced brides-to-be like me, but any shock they felt was politely disguised, as I was enveloped in the welcoming and fragrant atmosphere of this Marina Walk spa.
Led downstairs into the cosy, candlelit treatment room, the anxiety that had been tying my stomach in knots for weeks was gently lifted, as I listened to the peaceful music and inhaled the selection of heady essential oils.
Based on the principles of chromotherapy, each oil corresponds to a colour, which you pick based on your first reactions to the colour wheel – a sort of Rorschach inkblot test for spas. These colours represent the qualities you’re lacking most, and so it was little surprise to hear that I needed the calming effects of the white, pink and blue oils.
After one last dizzying inhalation of the scents, I snuggled down into the massage bed while the therapist prepared the oil combination. Beginning with a white oil body scrub, I was first covered from neck to toe in a warming, sugary concoction of satisfyingly scratchy exfoliator. Intended to detoxify and purify, I felt a little of the crazed bridezilla I had become seeping out of me, as all dead skin cells and impurities were sloughed off, and sloshed down the drain in the refreshing shower I took afterwards.
Feeling polished and purified, my skin was then blissfully kneaded and cajoled by the therapist’s expert hands, while the potent vapours from the essential oils seemed to float into my head and calm my nerves.
I’m not sure whether it was the colour therapy oils, the therapist’s skill, or merely taking a bit of time out that was the magic ingredient, but I felt a hundred times better when I walked out of Nails.
I can’t say that it miraculously cured my hamster face (although luckily that had gone by the big day!), but it was an expertly delivered treatment that lulled me to the point of soothing, dreamless sleep.
It may not have the sheer space or extravagance of some of the five-star hotels’ spas, but its simple dark-wood decor, luxurious robes, discreet and well-informed therapists and focus on pure, organic ingredients make it one of the most homely and relaxing spas in Dubai.
Details: Organic Body Scrub, 60 mins, Dh290. Aromatherapy Massage, 60 mins, Dh300. Nails Organic Spa, Dubai Marina. Call 04 4473688 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every morning I held my breath before checking my reflection. What would there be more of that day – the grey hairs or wrinkles? Having moisturised since the age of 13, I’d always prided myself on my smooth, line-free face. But now my love of the beach had taken its toll.
With my bleached, frizzy locks and tomato red ‘tan’, I resembled the leather-skinned tanorexic from There’s Something About Mary. My crow’s feet were crevices, and my laughter lines nothing to joke about – it was time for action.
Thank goodness then for the Phytomer Extended Youth Wrinkle Correction Treatment. Could this facial live up to its very technical sounding name, and visibly turn back the clock? I was off to the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort to find out.
I lay back in the sumptuous spa surroundings, and was given a heavenly back massage – a surprise first for a facial. But it makes total sense. Self-heating marine mud was applied to my back to help detox my skin. I was relaxed within minutes and ready for the magic to begin.
First, my face was exfoliated in a criss-cross pattern to gently slough off dead cells and smooth my skin. Then a rebalancing warm facial mask was applied to deep-cleanse and open my pores. My face felt squeaky clean and super-smooth, and the real work hadn’t even started.
My wrinkles were about to be filled! With terms like ‘skin resurfacing’ and ‘restructuring the face’, I imagined elaborate machinery and techniques that would hurt, but Phytomer is famous for using marine plants and algae to improve the look and elasticity of the skin.
The wrinkle-filling wax was massaged into my face and neck, and once that had sunk into every nook and cranny, the anti-ageing big guns were brought out – Wrinkles Concentrate and Firming Concentrate. They were massaged over my entire face, with particular emphasis on my forehead lines and crow’s feet. Over the top of all this, a mask containing clays, marine polymers and natural calcium was applied and left for ten minutes to give my face a mini lift.
I could actually feel it tighten, which was a bit unsettling. But luckily my therapist massaged my hands and arms so I was distracted. Finally the mask was removed, and more lifting serums were applied to my lips and eyes, along with the fantastic-sounding Expert Youth to my face and neck.
As if that wasn’t enough, my back was massaged again with relaxing serum, and finally I was declared ‘done.’ I raced to the mirror to see plump, young-looking skin staring back at me. I’d dropped a decade in 90 minutes and couldn’t stop grinning – until I realised it would cause wrinkles!
Details: Phytomer Extended Youth Wrinkle Correction Treatment, 90 mins including the Relax Back module, Dh590. Available at various hotels, including Hilton Dubai Jumeirah. Call 04 3991111 or visit www.beautyleaders.com.