Photo Collection: Jordan, 2010

The highlight of Year 2010 was a holiday trip to Jordan in the Middle-East. You can read about the trips here:

1. Marriot Hotel at the Dead Sea review

2. Six Senses Spa Review

3. Evason hotel review

In keeping with the theme of this blog, the articles are mostly hotels and spa reviews. I did take many wonderful photos of the trip and during a quiet weekend, had some opportunity to organise these photos. Here’s some better photos that I would like to share with you. Please let me know if these photos are okay with you or you would prefer that I stick back to just doing spa and hotel reviews. Thanks and I hope you enjoy the photos!

The Holy Land
The Holy Land as viewed from Jordan

Biblical and history enthusiasts will be fascinated
Biblical and history enthusiasts will be fascinated

Mosaic art has a long history in Madaba, Jordan
Mosaic art has a long history in Madaba, Jordan

Mosaic art in a Greek Orthodox Church
Mosaic art in a Greek Orthodox Church

More artwork in the Greek Orthodox Church
More artwork in the Greek Orthodox Church”

The mostly dry and arid landscape in Jordan
The mostly dry and arid landscape in Jordan

Castle in Karak that has seen occupation from different rulers
Castle in Karak that has seen occupation from different rulers

I met a Singapore student studying in a Jordan University here
I met a Singapore student studying in a Jordan University here

The tunnel leading to Petra Valley
The tunnel leading to Petra Valley

Does this remind you of the Indiana Jones movie?
Does this remind you of the Indiana Jones movie?

An unforgettable scene from Petra
An unforgettable scene from Petra

No visit to Jordan is complete without a visit to Petra
No visit to Jordan is complete without a visit to Petra

The temples, houses and coliseums were etched from stone
The temples, houses and coliseums were etched from stone

The 'main street' of Petra Valley
The ‘main street’ of Petra Valley

Camels and donkeys are available for the tired visitors
Camels and donkeys are available for the tired visitors

The temple of Petra
The temple of Petra

An ancient civilization that curved an entire temple from stone
An ancient civilization that curved an entire temple from stone

Look at the humans to get a proportion of the size of the temple
Look at the humans to get a proportion of the size of the temple

The temple from up close
The temple from up close

The temple from up close
The temple from up close

It's a long and sometimes steep climb. Hiring a donkey can be helpful
It’s a long and sometimes steep climb. Hiring a donkey can be helpful

A rest and cool drink in a cave can also be helpful
A rest and cool drink in a cave can also be helpful

Wadi Rum - Another fascinating desert landscape
Wadi Rum – Another fascinating desert landscape

A Bedouin camp in the desert
A Bedouin camp in the desert

Climbing up the golden desert sand
Climbing up the golden desert sand

Fascinating belly dance at the hotel
Fascinating belly dance at the hotel

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Review: Jordan Valley Marriott Resort & Spa, Jordan

As a spa and massage enthusiast, the Dead Sea is like the Holy Land that I must visit at least once in my lifetime. And here I am. The very thought of floating freely in the Dead Sea really excites me! Not to mention the mud-bath, mineral salt scrub, spa and massage that is so much associated with the Dead Sea.

Here’s some interesting fact about the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is the lowest body of water on earth, the lowest point on earth and the world’s richest source of natural sea mineral that was accumulated over thousands of years. Thousands of people come to the Dead Sea for the fun of floating at the lowest point of the earth but there are also a lot of people who come to the Dead Sea to seek and find cures for their skin or health problems.

The drive from Evason Ma’In Hot Spring Resort, which was our last hotel, is less than 30 minutes. The Dead Sea is actually a long lake straddling between Jordan and Palestine.

Along the long stretch of water, you will see three 5 stars luxury hotels side by side (namely, the Kempinski, Movenpick & Marriott). More hotels are being built alongside these few hotels.

We stayed at the Jordan Valley Marriott Resort & Spa. Being a 5 stars luxury hotel brand, you would expect a certain standard of customer service but unfortunately, I could only say that this hotel fall short.


Nice comfortable hotel room


The resort has numerous swimming pools


Breakfast restaurant – Not impressed by food nor service

Nobody offered to help us carry our luggage after we walked through the Security counter x-ray scanner at the main entrance. Our luggage was left lying on the X-ray scanner despite a few bellhops standing around the lobby area. They were more interested in chatting with each other.

At the front desk area, only one receptionist was doing the check in & check out. This despite being a few hundred rooms hotel and being 1pm which is the peak period for check-in/out. This was obviously not an isolated incident because when I was checking out at 1pm the next day, the same scenario was played out.

The Jordan Valley Marriott Resort & Spa sits on a large land area. The various amenities and facilities are well spread out and were designed to provide great views overlooking the Dead Sea. The hotel lobby area is spacious with Arabian theme decor and there are several restaurants, spa facilities, a few spacious swimming pool and chill-out areas in and around the resort.

The room we had was a good size with a comfortable king size bed, thick carpets and wooden furnishing.  The hotel only provide one small bottle of complimentary drinking water and the rest of the same brand (4 bottles) in the fridge were chargeable. The breakfast spread at the hotel was reasonable except that we were surprised that the bread were not fresh at all.  We even feed back to the restaurant manager (who was seen chit chatting with staff all morning) but no apology was offered. At least he was honest; he admitted that the bread was 2 days old!

The SPA facilities include an indoor pool with water from the Dead Sea, a heated lap pool and a Jacuzzi pool. The use of the spa facilities costs 19 JOD. Other spa facilities include a sauna, steam room, relaxation lounge and gym. The spa also offer a wide range of therapeutic treatments ranging from massage to body treatments using products from the Dead Sea. There is also a couple treatment room that faces the Dead Sea where guests could watch the sun set & relax in the room after their massage.


The Spa at Marriot


The couple room overlook the Dead Sea

We did not manage to book a treatment as the spa was fully booked on the 2 days that we were there. The Spa seems to be particularly popular during Winter as there were many day-guests from Amman and not just hotel guests.  Word of advice for spa enthusiasts: Please make prior booking if you want a spa or massage treatment even before your arrival.

Each of the 3 luxury hotels have their own private area of Dead Sea beach. For the Jordan Valley Marriott Resort, access to the Dead Sea is a path at the end of the property to the private beach area which is exclusively for Marriott hotel guests.

The beach at the Marriott hotel is a stone beach and not sand or mud. Luckily, the hotel provide tubs of Dead Sea natural mud, obviously extracted from other parts of the Dead Sea, and were placed on the beach area for guests to use freely.  You could rub yourself in mud and/or float in the Dead Sea for as long as you wish. It is almost impossible to swim in the Dead Sea and it is really true that you can read a book or drink a cup of coffee while floating in the Dead Sea!


Private Dead Sea access from the hotel


Floating in the Dead Sea


Dead Sea Mud. No smell. Just apply direct onto body


Scary: The skin is creased after the mud dries


Look at the amount of dried salt after dipping in the Dead Sea

Word of wise advice when you plan to float at the Dead Sea:

1. Wear a slipper or dive boot. The beach is made up of small and sharp stones.

2. Don’t swim if you have cuts. Cuts and scratches are magnified a hundred times due to the extreme salt content.

Other useful word of advice when visiting the Dead Sea:

1. Buy your favourite Dead sea spa products elsewhere. Prices are much higher here.

2. Better yet, bring your own plastic bag and grab the free mud. Many guests did that.

3. Buy your favourite drinks and snacks before arrival. There is not a single convenience shop around.

4. Do not try the Chinese food at the next door Movenpick hotel. Worst Chinese food ever.

Due to the Dead Sea area being below sea-level, weather in the Dead Sea tend to be warmer than the rest of Jordan. Even then, the December weather was a bit chilly to be hanging out at the pool or lounges. I could only afford to spend a short time dipping in the Dead Sea to avoid catching a cold.

You can thus get a bit bored. If you do get bored, you can also do some hotel hopping by asking the front desk to arrange to drop you off at the other nearby hotels.

The Marriott Resort is a large, clean and comfortable hotel. However, I also find it a relatively sterile hotel, where staff seems to lack the smile factor and where chatting between staff seems to be more interesting than serving guests. You can’t go wrong by staying at a Marriott hotel. However, do not expect anything outstanding, not at this branch.

Address of hotel: Dead Sea Road, Sweimeh, Jordan

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Review of Six Senses Spa, Ma’In, Jordan

The Six Senses Spa is located just a couple of minutes drive from the Evason Ma’In Hot Springs hotel within the same resort compound. You can choose to take a leisurely 5 minutes walk from the hotel or take a short drive using the complimentary electrical buggy or car from the hotel.

Along the way to the Six Senses Spa, you can see vegetable farms with herbs, vegetable and fruits in various stages of bloom. There are also various hot streams and waterfalls along the way.


The Six Sense Spa is a short walk from Evason Hotel


The Six Sense Spa is located in a natural ravine –
note the natural waterfall on the right of the picture.


Entrance to the Spa

The Six Senses Spa is a stand-alone villa compound housing a reception area, a hot waterfall lounge area, 2 levels of massage rooms and a spa facilities room. Walking into the reception area, there are shelves displaying Dead Sea spa products and an over-size round sofa fronting the reception area.

The receptionist on duty was a Gentleman and he took us for a tour of the spa despite being after their operating hours when we arrived at the spa.

The Six Senses Spa in Jordan is indeed unique. The Spa compound is built around it’s key attraction; a natural hot spring waterfall and a main hot spring water pool. There is even a very unusual cave sauna, heated by very hot spring water, right beside the waterfall! It’s natural, unique and amazing.

Just swimming in the heated pool and listening to the continuous waterfall is guaranteed to take away whatever urban stress and worries that you may be having!


Just being able to rest and relax beneath the
hot spring waterfall is worth all the money in the world!


Another view of the waterfall and hot pool


Check out the waterfall temperature

I understand that the Six Senses’ commitment was SLOW – Sustainable, Local, Organic, Wholesome Learning.  It is their commitment to utilize local ingredients as much as possible. So the treatments offered by the Six Senses Spa focus on their therapeutic properties of the mineral-rich waters, offering healing mineral and deep sea therapies combined with Asian and Six Senses signature treatments to ensure pampering in the hands of their trained Six Senses Spa therapists. Treatment prices are not cheap but considered reasonable for a brand name like Six Senses.

There are two types of Spa Menu offered by Six Senses Spa.  One is the SLOW menu where local ingredients were used and the other is the familiar menu of Six Senses treatments common throughout the Six Senses group.

There are about 10 treatment rooms in total on two separate floors to distinguish male & female due to Jordan being an Islamic country.  On the ground floor where the heated water fall pool is the changing room and spa facilities for male and on 1st level is the changing and spa facilities room for ladies.

In the changing room, there is a sauna, steam room, relaxing area as well as shower facilities. In the middle of the building, there is a outdoor sitting lounge where guests could sit, relax and enjoy the sound make by constant flow of hot spring waterfall. Self serviced cold and hot drinking beverages were placed in a booth besides the rest area.


The large and private massage treatment room


The colourful rest area

Hotel guests could use the Spa facilities with a fee of 15 JOD(@US$19) but the fee is waived if a massage of at least 60 mins is being booked. We booked our massage treatments for the next day and were offered free use of the spa facilities for 2 days.

My treatment was a 90 minutes Holistic Massage which is a combination of Swedish and Shaitsu full body massage that also include a face and scalp massage by a Thai therapist.  As usual, with a Thai therapist, you will never go wrong with their skill and as always, be welcomed with their friendly smile.

After our Spa treatments, we relaxed with a hot cup of ginger tea, dried fruit and nuts beside the hot pool. You may spend the whole day there – soak in the hot pool, have a massage and relax by the waterfall.

There is no doubt that any spa and massage treatment with the Six Senses Spa is definitely not a cheap endeavour. But then again, where else in the world can you have a massage and relax beside a natural hot spring pool and waterfall? Not many – so, banish the dollar and cents from your mind and you’ll naturally feel relaxed, at-ease and cleansed of all urban stress by spending a day at this Spa.

Location of Spa:
P.O. Box 801 Madaba, 11117 Ma’In, Jordan

Size of Spa: Many rooms within a 2-storey spa compound
Facilities: Large private massage room with toilet. Common hot pool, spa and rest area

Friendliness: Friendly
Pricing: 1 hour massage starts at US$75. Other treatment and massage services start from that price onwards.

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