Espa is a spectacular ensemble of textures, scents and senses - and that's before you get on the massage table.
Sleek style at Espa, Yas Hotel's new spa
It's hard to be impressed by anything after the ultra-modern open spaces and endless curves of the Yas Hotel, but its newly opened Espa spa is just as smart and sexy. A design sanctuary within a design sanctuary, this double-floored space has been created with the help of the New York firm of architects Richardson Sadeki.
Opening a year after the hotel, Espa at the Yas Hotel wows before you even get near the massage table. Although most of the hotel is white, in here it's unashamedly dark - past the reception and retail area the female-only zone is all slate walls and high ceilings. The entrance starts with a waterfall and a cup of chamomile, ginger, mint or lemon grass and rose tea while a candle-lit, curving walkway takes you past an elongated, white-leather-sofa'd, brown-pouffed sitting room screened with dark beading.
Beyond are the individual suede-upholstered boudoirs (changing room sounds so rough-and-ready), the white Carrara marble showers and the intricate, smooth-slabbed, copper-walled, Arabic-inspired hammam, swirling with scented vapours and pinches of light. It's the queen of hammams and much larger than the men's. Bathing rituals involve a scrub with black soap from Morocco and lashings of mint Tchaba tea.
For relaxation after your hammam or massage, overlooking the marina is the rotunda, a cylindrical column of light with a cosy, padded inner core lit vertically with fibre-optics. Lie on your back and look up. A sculpted stone lounge surrounds it and beyond that is an outdoor terrace refreshed by cooling mists.
On the boys' side, things are lighter and closer to the action. A large communal lounge - think a high-tech bachelor's apartment - looks out directly over the track (as does one of the massage rooms) and is equipped with two Metronap Sleep Pods (once you are ensconced inside, you recline and are enveloped in specially pitched music that - it is claimed - intensively rests your mind and body, giving it the equivalent of a long sleep), a library and marble steam room.
The private spa suite - brown woods, dark rugs, maroon curtains in brushed silk, grey stone floors and lots of glass - has its own massage room, hammam and fitness studio, and is accessible by private lift from the presidential suite.
During November, Espa at the Yas Hotel (www.theyashotel.com/spa; 02 656 0862) is offering 20 per cent off all spa treatments. The hotel (www.theyashotel.com; 02 656 0000) is also offering an "island escape for two" package that includes a 12pm check-in, a "his and hers" selection of spa treatments, dinner, breakfast and a 6pm checkout the next day, from Dh2,900 per couple, including taxes.