x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Organic reflexology

We try out the Willow Stream Spa's reflexology treatment at the Fairmont on Palm Jumeirah.

The spa at Fairmont The Palm. Courtesy: Fairmont The Palm
The spa at Fairmont The Palm. Courtesy: Fairmont The Palm

The great thing about accessing The Fairmont hotel on Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah is a secret slip road via the Golden Mile. Not that I benefited from the speedy access route, mind you, having missed the exit and embarked upon an almighty detour. Embarrassed, stressed and late for my appointment, I zoomed up to the first floor of the hotel and burst through the doors of the Willow Stream Spa. A divine mix of lemon- grass, grapefruit and bergamot hung in the air and swiftly calmed my mood.

Having filled out a brief questionnaire I was led through the mosaic-tiled open-plan changing area and into Water Suite 12. The room was stunning, with an oversized sculptural bath framed in French doors, leading to a balcony with full sea views. On the other side of the room was a treatment table covered in a plump white duvet under which I slipped, before lavender patches were placed on my eyes.

My therapist started by giving me a gentle head, neck, shoulder and arm massage with invigorating essential oils. After the same treatment was applied to my legs, it was time for the reflexology to start.

Having never experienced the ancient healing method before, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Pain, my therapist informed me, was quite normal. She wasn’t wrong, as pressure applied to different areas of my right foot made me squeal out loud. With the exception of the arch of my foot, however, I felt little more than a deep tissue massage.

My therapist revealed the pain was linked to my stomach and pancreas and asked some questions about my diet and any intolerances. She was spot on and had managed to pinpoint an area of weakness. The more I grimaced with the pain, the more she reduced the pressure, all the while remarking that it was “very light”, compared to regular guests for whom she applies her full body weight.

I shuddered at the thought. It was evident that I was a reflexology rookie and I was also making her laugh – a lot. When I asked her what was funny, she giggled that never before had a client asked her to identify every squeeze she made with the corresponding organ targeted. I got the message and endeavoured to tune out, unwind and stop grilling her.

It didn’t last long, though, for when she moved to my left foot, the exact same spots had the same painful reflexes. Relieved as I was to discover my brain, lungs and other organs were in “good shape”, I worried increasingly about my gurgling stomach.

The therapist wrapped up the treatment by telling me not to fret and that I would feel a lot better internally in the coming hours. Regular sessions, she assured me, would help enormously with my digestive sensitivities.

Though most treatments only last 60 minutes, the Fairmont’s spa is a place you will want to languish in for at least a couple of hours, mainly because you’ll be treated to a great deal more than you signed up for. My reflexology, for example, also included a complimentary head massage, use of the steam, sauna, thermal suite facilities and refreshments (from dates to carrot-courgette bites).

Top of my list of free inclusions next time, however, will be to try the Experience Shower with synchronised jets, aromatherapy water and ambient sound and light.

I’ll be booking in for another reflexology session on The Palm in the coming weeks to test its healing powers. Not least because the therapist assured me she could improve the function of any organ in the body – that is, “apart from a broken heart, Madam”.


• The 60-minute reflexology treatment starts from Dh475 at Willow Stream Spa, Fairmont The Palm, Dubai. Call 04 457 3388 or visit www.fairmont.com/palm-dubai/willow-stream