WHAT I TRIED The two-hour, five-step Rejuvenate treatment at The Address hotel, Dubai. It includes a body scrub, body massage, heated body mask, acupressure facial and head massage and uses Espa products and an holistic approach to energise or relieve stress, tension or the effects of jet-lag, according to your needs. WHAT I WANTED I should probably say "to look and feel 10 years younger". But since I probably looked worse in my 20s than I do now - thanks to too many late nights and an inadvisable lifestyle - a water-guzzling, yoga-practising 20-something would be good. If that wasn't possible, just a less tired, haggard and grumpy version of myself would do.
WHAT HAPPENED After a few minutes' lazing on a chaise longue in the 13th-floor spa lounge, admiring the fantastic view of Downtown, over the lake and across to the Burj Dubai (don't worry if you're coming to relieve vertigo-inducing stress, there is a balcony between you and the drop), Dessy, my therapist, arrived to show me into a candlelit treatment room. As my feet were bathed in a bowl of water, scented oils and mineral salts, she asked how I was feeling and what I'd like to get from the treatment. I told her that the heat, the leftovers of a cold, plus the drive in a lo-fi Honda through the midday heat from Abu Dhabi had left me so drained, I could barely keep my eyes open. I needed to feel awake, re-energised, healthy.
With my feet dried and wrapped in warm towels it was time for some sniffing. I was to test four body oils and two skin toners (more on those later) and choose one of each, according to which scent appealed to me most. This, Dessy said, would tell her what my body needed. I was dubious - could my choice tell her I needed more water and yoga? My knowledge of aromatherapy and such things is negligible, however, so I was happy to go along with it. Scents chosen, I lay down on the (warmed) treatment bed to begin rejuvenating.
First was the heated detoxifying body scrub, a concoction of sea salts mixed with lively grapefruit and eucalyptus oils which seemed to instantly slough away my cold as well as dead skin. After I washed it off in the shower (located behind a wall next to the bed), I was seriously impressed; it had exfoliated and softened my skin much more than any other similar product. Dried and back on the bed, I was ready for my heated body mask; a warmed paste containing "marine algae" (seaweed to you and me) which was gently applied everywhere except my face. Then, I was quickly wrapped in cling film and warm towels - odd but cosy and extremely pleasurable. When Dessy began my acupressure facial, cleansing and massaging my face in long, gentle strokes, it just got better.
But then something unexpected happened: a nasty stinging on my face. This was the toner. When I had been asked to smell them earlier, I really should have spoken up. My skin is so sensitive that toners or any scented product will make it flare up. It was removed as soon I pointed this out and there was no lasting soreness or redness, but if your skin is similarly sensitive, take note and avoid. Another shower to wash off the body mask was followed by the massage, which was concentrated, as requested, on my lower back. It was more firm and intensive than relaxing, and the Invigorating Body Oil used really did its job when it reached my nostrils. The head and scalp also did wonders for my muggy head. Be aware, however, that your hair will get very oily at this stage so you will need to shampoo it afterwards if you are going straight out.
With the treatment over, I wandered back to the lounge in a hazy, blissed-out state for some lemongrass tea and another lie down on a chaise to watch the sun set and the Dubai fountain dance. Forty five happy minutes later, it was only hunger and the Dubai Mall sales that could stir me to leave. VERDICT At almost Dh1,000 a time, this was a luxury treat, befitting of a spa that is a cut above its competitors. But it is a treat that met all expectations - and kept on giving. My exfoliated, nourished skin felt wonderful for days, my complexion was as close to glowing as I could have wished for, and though I can't be certain whether it was the scented oils or the rigorous massage, my lethargy was sharply kicked into touch. The toner incident was only a tiny blip in two hours of wonderful treatments, and not even the Honda's lame air-conditioning or being told off by the valet for not getting my parking ticket stamped at reception (remember to ask) could reverse the good work. Time to start saving.
Helen McLaughlin Rejuvenate At The Address costs Dh995 and is available at The Address Downtown Burj Dubai. Call 04 436 8888 to book. Clients who reserve a spa treatment before August 31 can enjoy full-day access to the hotel's pool and fitness centre, and receive a Dh100 voucher that can be redeemed during your next spa visit.
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