A recent working trip brought me to Dubai, United Arab Emirates(UAE). Most of us know of Dubai as one of the richest city in the Middle East, if not the world. Of late, Dubai has been known for it’s grand towering hotels, ultra-large shopping malls, air-conditioned bus-stops and becoming the financial and monetary hub of the world.
Few know that Dubai has also become a popular holiday and tourist destination in the Middle East and every year, it welcomes tens of thousands of tourists and visitors from Europe, Africa, India, Russia and Japan. In many ways, despite being an Islamic country, Dubai has open up it’s culture to embrace visitors from all over the world.
Hence, it is not surprising to find spa and massage establishments in this Islamic country. While some establishments are for same sex only, more and more newer spa and massage facilities has become unisex as is common in Europe, USA and Asia; especially in the hotels.
I recently stayed at the Arabian Courtyard hotel in Dubai. The Arabian Courtyard is a 4-star hotel that is located at Bur Dubai, just off the Dubai Creek and in a part of older Dubai. This hotel has obviously seen the age of time although it remains spectacularly well-maintained, clean and has one of the most courteous hotel staff you can find. In fact, in 2008, this hotel was nominated as one of the 5 best 4-star hotel in Dubai!
The hotel reception area
Side note: If you are looking for a clean, reasonably priced hotel that is located in the business streets of old Dubai and not in the modern, glitzy part of Dubai, the Arabian Courtyard is recommended. Despite not being brand new, given that Dubai hotels are very expensive and that the Arabian Courtyard is located just opposite the Dubai museum, makes it worth considering
I was in Dubai in early July where temperature is at it’s hottest with the average daily temperature being 43C for that month. The heat hits you the moment you walk out of the air-conditioned hotel and a short 5 minutes walk round the block will leave you hot, wet with sweat and somewhat giddy.
Hence, when it was time for me to check out on my last day, I decided to kill time by hiding in the hotel rather than walk around despite having 4 hours before I need to leave for the airport. I needed to kill time and decided to visit the Zaitoon Wellness Spa located on the 2nd level. This despite knowing that Dubai has one of the highest cost of living in the world and a massage service will surely not be cheap!
Private Massage room
The Zaitoon Wellness Spa is located at the 2nd level of the hotel. The spa takes up a corner of the 2nd level and exudes a zen-like calmness with with soft lights, flowing curtains and soft music. The spa has about 8 rooms, including 2 couple rooms, a facial room and a few other single rooms.
Business was pretty brisk with hotel guests coming in and out to make inquiries or to come for their massage appointments. Almost all the massage therapists are Filipinos and their soft and gentle mannerisms gel well with the spa.
Many spa and facial packages were available on the menu and just as I suspected, prices are on the high side compared to what I’ll need to pay in Singapore. I chose a Japanese Shiatsu massage session but was told that the therapist for Shiatsu massage was not available. The only massage I could have immediately without having to come back with an appointment was a foot massage and I agreed to it.
A Filipino masseur attended to me and a hot tub was brought for me to sink my tired feet into. This was followed by 45 minutes of therapeutic foot massage and while skills were not as good as what I can get in Asia, I was satisfied because this is as good as I can get for a foot massage in the Middle East.
An hour later, I was recharged and ready to head for the airport. The bill for 50 minutes of foot massage came to 180 dirhams or approximately US$55. Definitely not cheap but the therapeutic effect, soft cozy chair and cool air-conditioner makes up for the hot, humid and sandy Dubai streets anytime!
Note: Room guests at the Arabian Courtyard Hotel gets a free 15 minutes massage at the Zaitoon Wellness Spa.
Location of The Zaitoon Wellness Spa @ Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa Al Fahidi Street P.O.Box 46500, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Size: Small spa with private rooms and a curtained off area with sofas for foot massage. Hydro-massage bath and jacuzzi available in some of the rooms.
Facilities: Small toilet and rest area
Friendliness: Polite staff and mostly Filipino massage therapists.
Pricing: Starts from US$60 for a facial, wrap or bath. US$100 for Body massage. Various spa and beauty packages available and starts from US$150.