The current situation:
Across the road from the Dubai mall, you will see a giant blue and white “RH” logo. Directly below that logo is a padded pool lounger on the edge of the pool. This is where I am lying while listening to years of Lana Del Rey. As I sit here, typing to the beat of “Million Dollar Man,” I will do my best to take you through my spa day and bring you to this moment.
Why pay full price?
I am an accountant with a decent knowledge of economics and so I hate paying full price for anything. The problem is, I also enjoy the finer things in life. Enter Groupon, stage left. My five star, six-hour spa experience cost me a fraction of the price without sacrificing any of the quality. So before you think of buying absolutely anything, consider taking the time to find the Groupon/coupon code/discount voucher for it and save yourself a little cash.
In the basement of the five-star establishment that is the Roda Al Murooj hotel, you will find a decent looking spa with all of the things you would expect to find in a spa, as well as a gym.
The spa isn’t particularly anything to write home about but I knew I was going to have a good time when Usher started playing as I signed in at the reception.
Inside, the ladies’ locker room is similar to the planet fitness set up, without all of the blue. My favorite feature is the full-length mirrors; useful for the bathroom selfies I have not yet mastered.
Jacuzzi: the unbirthing
I miss my mother. I am not ashamed to admit it. So when I stepped into the jacuzzi it felt like I was entering a lavender scented version of her womb where the water is warm and 5-year-old bubble blowers attacked from every angle. It was pure bliss. I had the room to myself, so I put on some Lana and allowed myself to sink into my happy place: water.
My package: The three-hour massage
This sounds excessive but someone once said to me: never do anything in half measures. Obviously what I took from that was: go hard or go home. Anyway, the additional stress of being a project coordinator, on a project as big as Fashion Forward Dubai, left me broken. Thus, in the battle between groceries and a spa day, my aching shoulders came out queen.
The most pleasant lady found me neck deep in water bubbles and escorted me to a different side of heaven: the massage room. We spent a few minutes snap-chatting and bonding over our travels before she began to work her magic.
The types of massage
My spa package was for a three-hour Shiatsu, Thai, Swedish and deep tissue aromatherapy oil massage.
Shiatsu, meaning figure pressure, is a traditional Japanese massaging technique. Thai massages use techniques where you are pulled into yoga positions, much like making a human pretzel. The Swedish technique is the one everyone knows best as it is what you had been doing whenever someone asked you for a massage. Bet you didn’t know that, huh? Deep tissue massage is fairly self-explanatory. It is similar to a Swedish massage but this technique focuses on massaging the deeper layers of muscle.
Aromatherapy oil is a scented oil used during the massage to aid in relaxing you. My package came with a honey-scented oil but most spas will allow you to pick your preferred scent for the massage. When you’re spoilt for choice, they will mix them. I’ve checked.
Masochist or hedonist?
I’m always amazed at how the body works. My talented masseuse rubbed the back of my calf and my shoulders released from them, half of the tension of the Cold War. At this point, we were ten minutes in and I knew I was going to leave as one big lump of jelly. Assuming they could get me to leave.
There’s something thrillingly twisted (pun intended) about having someone fold your arms into a pretzel behind your back and choose to soothe you into a coma rather than to dislocate your shoulder. I am not sure if this makes me a masochist or a hedonist but the world was dead to me for a short while and I liked it.
The steam room
As all good things come to an end, my three hours was up. I begrudgingly removed my limbs from the table and willed myself into the steam room.
Imagine sitting on the inside of a closed asthma pump cap on a hot day, with someone pressing the pump every so often. It’s warm and moist but you can breathe so easily. This was my steam room experience. After a few minutes, I was so calm that I did what any reasonable person would do in there: I started meditating. By the time I was done, what felt like 15 minutes had in fact been 45 and I felt completely rejuvenated.
It was hot. It was dry. I lasted all of five minutes. Nothing new here.
After a wonderful jet stream shower, I made my way to the pool area for a freshly squeezed lemon mint juice and a juicy beef burger. Unfortunately, there are no Groupons for this pool bar.
I am yet to get into the water but looking at it takes me back to a magnificent beach house dinner party, turned pool party… So you know it’s enticing.
7 hours after my arrival…
As I first mentioned, I am writing this article beneath the “RH” logo and what is now the desert night sky. I am surrounded by classic European-style architecture with Lana in my ears. It is a comfortable 32 degrees Celsius (in April) and my destressing mission has been accomplished. So, for those of you who find yourselves looking for a place to channel the “hakuna matata” spirit in Dubai, you won’t go wrong with The Flow spa and its friendly staff.