Written by Oryx
If there’s one thing of which there’s no shortage in the Middle East it’s luxury. From Amman to Oman, the Dead Sea to the Nile, the region is replete with hotels that specialise in pampering.
The Chedi Spa at the Chedi Muscat
Like the resort that houses it, the Chedi Spa is all about understated opulence. The two-storey building is tucked cosily between the Hajar mountain range and the Gulf of Oman. The spectacular view helps relax knotted muscles even before setting foot into the spa itself.
There are seven treatment rooms (including four luxury suites that include sunken terrazzo baths), and while the spa isn’t signposted, as you near it the wafting fragrances of jasmine and eucalyptus incense are unmistakable. The smell immediately calms, as does the traditional décor; beige whitewash walls feature Omani wall hangings and rustic, though elegant, furniture.
Most of the vast range of treatments have an Asian spin. Indeed, it would be remiss to give the Balinese massage a miss, as it possibly the best in the region. The treatment starts with a hot towel rub and a spot of meditative breathing, meant to thoroughly calm the body before the actual massage begins. As luxurious as this treatment is, however, it’s best when enjoyed as part of the two-hour signature Omani Bliss treatment, which also includes an aromatherapy foot polish that leaves tootsies baby smooth and a traditional body scrub that makes for silken skin. The icing on the cake is the floral bath in which you get to wallow while munching on dates. The effect is rejuvenating.
The Chedi Muscat, Muscat, Oman (+968 24 524 400)
To maximise the Chedi experience, complement a visit to the spa with a stay in one of the Chedi’s club suites. A stay in these rooms – complete with cushioned furniture – comes with airport pickup, breakfast in bed, unlimited pickings from the mini bar, free laundry service, a Bose wave audio system, and use of two Apple iPods each crammed with 1,500 songs. Chedi Club guests are also served pre-dinner canapés and drinks in the lounge. Now that’s what we call pampering.
The Zara Spa at the Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea
Many spas import salt and mud from the Dead Sea. The Zara Spa is fortunate to be surrounded by those healing resources in natural abundance. So it’s no wonder that the spa is an international favourite, not least for its creators’ painstaking eye for detail which makes it irresistible. In a traditional village setting and surrounded by lush gardens, the ambience of the place can silence even the most hardened cynics. However, it’s the spa’s five pools and oriental-inspired thermariums (Turkish baths) that really set it apart.
Because Dead Sea water is powerful stuff, the Zara Spa recommends that visitors take baby steps, starting with a ten-minute dip in the heated hydro-pool, which acclimatises the body with its gentle 3% salt concentration. Nearby are massage jets, which target specific areas of the body. Once relaxed, patrons can then dip (or float) in the Dead Sea pools, which are filled from the Dead Sea itself. The 28% salt ratio helps draw toxins out of the body.
While there are a number of massage rituals, the black mud treatments – which incorporate the mineral-rich Dead Sea mud – are a must. The regional mud is full of nutrients and is used to draw out pollutants and restore the skin’s pH balance. It also tightens the skin, making it a kind of natural facelift.
To end a day at the Zara Spa, nothing beats a dip in the infinity pool – which overlooks the Dead Sea – and possibly catch a sunrise (it just might be the best place in the world to do so).
The Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea, Amman, Jordon (+962 5 356 11 11)
Wondering what makes the Dead Sea so special? For starters, at 405m below sea level, it marks the lowest point on earth; which is a good thing, because it has a high atmospheric pressure, ideal for alleviating respiratory problems. And while the region is sunny all year round, the ultraviolet rays are more filtered, meaning it’s safer to sunbathe (a handy therapy for skin disorders, like psoriasis).
The Six Senses Spa at the Six Senses Hideaway Resort
This breathtakingly regal spa is aptly named. It’s tucked away in a secluded fishing village in the Musandam peninsula, and unless you’re a guest, there’s no way you’re getting in. There are three options for arrivals: paragliding in through the mountains; by speedboat from Dibba; or across the Hajar mountains in a BMW 4x4. The resort is so exclusive it has even created its own time zone (one hour ahead of the rest of Oman). Just to make sure stress isn’t an option, each resort guest is also allocated a personal butler.
The spa itself is nestled in the Zighy Bay mountainside, and is designed rustically to resemble a traditional Omani village. The spa boasts two traditional Arabian hammams, nine treatment rooms, and an extensive spa menu designed to be as decadent as humanly possible. One of the standouts is the signature 80-minute Arabian Gold ritual, which includes an invigorating basil and mint body scrub, followed by a purifying gold clay body mask and finishes with a full-body gold-infused massage. For those who prefer diamonds to gold, there is also an 80-minute gemstone massage, whereby therapists massage with gem-infused oil (choose from diamond, emerald, ruby, or sapphire).
If the unrelenting pampering gets boring (and how could it?), the resort also offers several adventure activities, and rents out dhows and kayaks to explore the neighbouring fjords (no wonder Musandan is called the ‘Norway of the Middle East’). Those who want to tour the area by land may do so on complimentary bicycles provided by the staff. One thing is for certain: a stay at The Six Senses Spa will be many things, but forgettable isn’t one of them.
Six Senses Hideaway Resort, Musandam, Oman. +968 2673 5887
You’d think that all this luxury would have an impact on the environment, but the Six Senses Hideaway Resort is dedicated to offsetting its carbon impact. It donates a percentage of its monthly revenue to support environmental projects and uses energy-efficient appliances whenever possible. Toiletries like shampoo and conditioner even come in refillable glass bottles rather than plastic throwaways. So not only will you feel good on your visit, you’ll be doing the right thing by the planet too.
The Nayara Spa at the Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa
You’d be hard pressed to find a more scenic spa in all of Egypt. It is quite easy to spend a full day lounging in one of the two infinity pools that look directly out on to the Nile. After a 30-month hiatus and a US$43 million refurbishment, the Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa reopened last year to reveal sleek, sensual décor that, though new, feels as ancient as the nearby ruins. The new spa takes on a holistic approach to relaxation, aiming to appeal to all five senses: touch, sight, sound, taste, and smell. For this reason, the staff recommend starting a treatment in the steam baths (they have three: salt, herbal, and laconium) before taking a dip in the ice fountain, and moving on to the signature holistic cocooning wrap. This treatment is one of the main draws. The bespoke body wrap is inspired by ancient Egyptian recipes, and incorporates Western massage techniques. It doesn’t only result in soft skin, but a serene state of mind. It’s no wonder the spa is called Nayara (Arabic for ‘shining from within’).
However, to really take full advantage of the spa and its services, it’s recommended to book one of the five spa suites. Each of these rooms comes with a private Jacuzzi and foot bath, and includes a full treatment on each day of booking.
Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa, Luxor, Egypt. +20 95 237 4933
While visitors may find it difficult leaving the serene spa surroundings, the city of Luxor has plenty of draw in its own right. The resort is mere minutes away from the Karnak Temple, a 3,600-year-old religious site that covers an area of nearly two square miles. To glean a sense of the region’s vast history, a trip to the Luxor museum – which houses the mummified body of what is likely Rameses I – comes highly recommended.