I welcomed the opening of a full-service spa on the top floor of my building only cautiously, for three reasons.
First, with its slick wood floors, Natura Bissé products and expansive location on the 46th-floor rooftop of Al Ain Tower in Khalidiya, it looks expensive.
Second, I already have a good-value spa nearby that I go to regularly, which never fails to deliver good treatments.
And third, I’d never heard of the Nine Degrees brand before. Perhaps that’s what everyone else thinks, too, because whenever I have visited, it has been virtually empty.
While part of me doesn’t want this to change, good businesses need customers to keep going, and that’s why – especially with its regular special offers – everyone should try it.
My test treatment is “Body Balanced”, a body scrub and massage combo costing Dh395 (the treatments normally cost Dh275 and Dh300 respectively if taken separately).
It starts by taking the lift to the RF level, where the spa shares a reception area with the gym. The spa is in a secluded area off to the right, behind a newly-opened hair salon.
After changing into a robe and disposable underwear and placing my valuables in a locker, I fill out the customary consultation form and am rewarded with a cold towel and small glass of cold ginger tea with cardamom and cinnamon. I’m told there’s no sugar added but it tastes sweet.
I then wait in the relaxation area for my therapist, Lizelle, who arrives immediately, thankfully dispensing with the time-wasting waiting-to-be-collected-by-a-therapist routine.
The treatment takes place in a large room at the end of the soothing corridor – walls and floors are smooth dark wood, and the windows are fully frosted. Because of its location – almost in the clouds, away from street noise, hotel workers and racket from the construction sites that surround the building – this is one of the most relaxing spas I’ve been to.
Lizelle, from the Philippines, has a lovely manner, treating you as an individual and not just another client to get through. She goes briefly over the consultation form, which actually asks useful questions, such as your desired pressure and areas to focus on. I also choose my essential oil, which is orange blossom.
First, I lie on my front for the salt scrub. The massage bed is not the most comfortable, but with a bit of self-adjustment of the head it is fine.
The scrub feels like a massage. The mixture of Moroccan sea salt and argan oil feels quite harsh, but Lizelle explains it has to be to slough off all the dead skin. It is also apparently hydrating and will stimulate blood circulation, which I can well believe. Because the product is not too wet, it is not uncomfortable even after I turn over.
Once the scrub is done, I am taken to the shower to rinse it off, before the one-hour “balancing bespoke massage” starts, again, with me lying on my front.
I’ve already warned Lizelle that my shoulders are especially tight after a week of exercise classes at Haddins for The National’s fitness challenge, and she doesn’t shirk from crunching the trap spasm I have on the left shoulder, seemingly prising the rock-hard muscles at the top of my shoulder blade away from their aggravating position. As requested, she uses lighter pressure elsewhere.
The technique is excellent and very relaxing, but the effect is somewhat spoiled by the fact that the room feels very cold. Although Lizelle has turned off the air-conditioner, the temperature still reads 21 degrees, and I have to keep asking for more towels.
After the body treatment finishes, I try a “repairing express facial” (Dh295), which involves cleansing, exfoliating with a vitamin C scrub, a face massage and a face mask. During the mask, Lizelle gives me a head massage and then finishes with an oxygen moisturiser.
In the end I feel limber and look fresher, with more-even skin, partly thanks to smaller pores.
The only issue is that I am so cold, I have to warm up with hot ginger tea in the relaxation area. Included in the Body Balanced package is some non-alcoholic sparking grape juice, strawberries and chocolates.
The relaxation chairs have gorgeously fluffy cotton blankets, completing the very impressive experience from the UAE company.
• The Body Balanced package at Nine Degrees Spa in Al Ain Tower, Khalidiya, Abu Dhabi, is available until the end of February. Regular monthly offers are also available. Call 02 667 3144 to book an appointment
Source: art & life