Pamper yourself at Muscat's new spa and fitness facility.
Tried and tested: Ancient Balinese massage at The Chedi
WHAT I WANTED There's a buzz in the air as I'm ushered into The Chedi's new spa reception, as I'm one of the lucky few who have been invited to the unveiling of the 4,000-square-metre spa and fitness facility. A blend of Omani architecture and contemporary Asian design, the unique environment encompasses 13 luxurious treatment suites, saunas, monsoon showers, state-of-the-art changing rooms and a beautiful domed relaxation lounge. Overhauling the spa product menu in favour of high-end organic brands is also part of the renovation, as are therapies that draw from Japanese, Balinese, Thai and Ayurvedic wellness traditions. Eager to reap the rewards of such ancient therapies, I opt for the Ancient Balinese Massage.
WHAT HAPPENED With just a few weeks of operation behind it, the spa is pristine; the huge saunas and steam rooms never looked used and I think I might be the first person to have worn my silky bathrobe. From having exercised in the new health club, experimenting with the Power Plate, the Kinesis Wall and the Pilates machine, I am keen to unwind and enjoy some pampering.
My therapist, Rose, leads me into the treatment room to find black-and-white marble floors, walk-in showers and floor-to-ceiling windows. After I choose the pressure of my massage (firm) and massage oil (oriental with extracts of rose wood, perfect for dry skin and anti-ageing), Rose places my feet in a bowl of warm water with floating flowers and treats them to a lavender cleanse and a mineral sea salt scrub.
As I melt into the cocoon-like massage bed, Rose gets to work stretching my muscles and finding the exact pressure points to relieve tension and improve blood flow. She works deeper into my legs and back and my tight muscles finally submit. I realise I must have nodded off as I wake to feel the warming sensation of a lavender hot compress around my shoulders. Feeling totally relaxed and unable to move, I am delighted to discover that the massage beds are electronic, raising me to a seated position at the touch of a button. As I slowly rouse from my heady slumber, I glide into the relaxation lounge to enjoy a glass of spiced ginger-and-lemon tea.
THE VERDICT Reclining on a bed of cushions and staring up at the palatial gold-domed ceiling of the relaxation lounge is possibly the perfect way to revel in the afterglow of any spa treatment. From the huge windows you can enjoy the soothing views of miles of unspoiled Omani coastline, plus the hotel's biggest "wow factor" - a newly built, 102-metre pool. Having a treatment at this new Middle East spa destination is an ultra-luxurious experience. The elegant surroundings, first-rate facilities and professional staff make this so much more than an hour on a massage table. Weekends away have taken on a new meaning.
Ancient Balinese Massage, 90 minutes for 50 Omani rial (Dh475), The Chedi Spa & Hotel, Muscat, +968 2452 4400, www.GHMhotels.com
Celebrate the festive season ahead with these fabulous December spa offers
AMARA SPA If you're suffering from dry, dull winter skin, then indulge in Amara Spa's Enrich Body Special and enjoy a salt body scrub packed with frankincense and grapefruit oils. Follow with an Enrich Aroma Massage to soothe stressed muscles. The perfect pick-me-up after a day of shopping. Dh785, Amara Spa, Park Hyatt Dubai, 04 602 1234
ESPA Pamper yourself with at the Yas Viceroy Winter Spa Getaway Package. Throughout December for Dh1,450 for two people, you can enjoy a 50-minute spa treatment; use of the fitness suite, pool and relaxation rooms; plus a one-night stay in the hotel with breakfast. ESPA at the Yas Viceroy, 02 656 0862
ETERNAL MEDSPA Unveiling a fresh-faced look in 2012 is easy as when you purchase a Thermage treatment for the face, you'll receive one free HydraFacial. Eternel Medspa, Jumeriah Beach Road, 04 344 0008
MANDARA SPA Get a Luscious & Luminous Packaged Ritual at a reduced price of Dh699 (usually Dh935). For nearly two hours you can enjoy an Elemis Exotic Frangipani Body Nourish Wrap, a mini facial and a Balinese Massage. Mandara Spa, The Monarch Dubai, 04 501 8888
PASTELS SALON Pretty hands and feet are a must this time of year. Head to Pastels Salon, where when you buy a set of Minx Nails for your hands, you will get 15 per cent off a set of Minx Nails for your feet. Pastels Salon, Jumeirah, 04 394 7393 or the Ritz-Carlton branch, 04 399 5016
SENSASIA URBAN SPA The Back Me Up treatment here is the perfect pre-party fix. A peppermint back scrub, a skin purifying mask and a hot stone back, neck and shoulder massage will have you prepped in no time. Dh350, The Village, Jumeirah Beach Road, 04 349 8850