After a long working week and a busy weekend in Dubai hosting friends from out of town, I went in for the Tension Soother treatment - one of the signature offerings at Yas Viceroy's in-house spa, Espa. The treatment is supposed to alleviate deep-seated muscle pain and stress through sensory stimulation.
Smell: as soon as I stepped out of the lift, I was hit by that wonderful spa smell - a combination of lemon grass, eucalyptus and amber.
Sight: the treatment room was overlooking the Yas Marina with the window blinds tilted partially upwards so as not to let in too much light.
Taste: before and after the treatment I was offered a cleansing ginger tea, which was welcoming after two hours of scrubbing, brushing and massaging.
Sound: serene instrumental music plays throughout the spa but, while in the treatment room, the therapist asked if I had any other music preference as individual iPod docks are used in the rooms.
Touch: special attention was taken when it came to pressure. Each section of the Tension Soother was given a different strength - the body brushing was light due to my sensitive skin, the massage was strong due to deep muscle knots and there was a firm focus on energy points.
For once I was actually early to my appointment and was advised to use the steam facilities before the treatment. The vapours helped relieve tension, but as I was stepping off the slick, marble benches, my clumsiness got the best of me and I slipped and fell flat. Good thing I was getting a massage right after.
My therapist, Jene, fetched me from the waiting area and escorted me to the room. She began with a foot ritual that included a bath salt and oil followed by gentle exfoliation.
Before beginning, Jene asked me to choose which oils I wanted to use based on my own olfactory preferences - the fragrance that smells the most appealing to me will give the best results, she said.
Then we began the body brushing, aimed at stimulating the lymphatic system and overall circulation. Next up was the scrub. Jene used the Espa Exfoliating Body Polish to slough off dry skin with a cooling after-effect thanks to the spearmint-infused polish.
Jene then moved on to my face where a simple cleanse and massage was administered. A quick body shower came next and then I was back on the bed face down for the massage.
A combination of the Espa Restorative Body Oil and hot volcanic stones worked on my stiff muscles. I have scoliosis (curvature of the spine) between my shoulder blades and in my middle back, which causes muscle spasms because of overcompensation by the muscle to make up for the lack of alignment.
Lastly was the scalp massage. She used the Espa Pink Hair and Scalp Mud which conditions the area and boosts hair health.
I was in a state of trance, between sleep and wakefulness, when Jene whispered in my ear that we were done. She noted that I had one calf slightly larger than the other, which felt stiffer and was most likely due to water retention. She advised me to concentrate on that leg with a body brush and taught me how to use it properly. She also offered suggestions on how to alleviate my back pain with simple remedies at work and home.
I was told to drink plenty of fluids that evening because the treatment detoxifies your system, leaving you dehydrated.
The receptionist, spa manager and therapist who I interacted with were some of the most knowledgeable I've had at any spa in town.
Although the spa is quite a long way out of town for those of us who live in the city, the experience made it worthwhile. In fact, it was refreshing to leave the hotel feeling like I wasn't in Abu Dhabi - almost as if I was on a spa holiday somewhere abroad.
Any of Espa's Signature Spa Treatments cost Dh725. They are two hours long. Women clients have access to the spa's light therapy room, relaxation lounge and steam facilities, while men can enjoy MetroNap energy pods (ergonomic chairs designed for napping in an energy-boosting environment), as well as a separate steam room and relaxation area.
How to book
You can contact Espa at Yas Viceroy on 02 656 0862, or via email at email@example.com.