My journey to bliss took me to the 18th floor of what’s popularly known as the world’s only 7-star hotel. Arising out of the waters on its own man-made island, the famous Burj Al Arab soars 321 meters high, with 27 floors and 202 luxurious duplex suites.
A sense of relaxation enveloped me as I entered Talise Spa where I was welcomed by an alluring scent and a magnificent mosaic domed ceiling. The receptionist told me to take a seat and a few minutes later a silver tray with a small glass of chilled strawberry infused ginger tea, a cold face towel and a red rose was placed on the table in front of me. When I sat there my eyes were drawn towards the colourful floor design. The colours red, green, white and black represents the UAE flag and are used as a “red thread” throughout the spa.
The lavishly decorated Talise Spa is reminiscent of bathing pools used by ancient Middle Eastern civilizations, but with all the mod cons like Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and infinity pools. Talise Spa, formerly know as Assawan Spa, was originally named after an ancient stone known for its purity and healing properties. Comforting to know as I succumb to a relaxing and healing soak in the bubbling pool, followed by a dip in one of the two infinity pools perched 150 meters above the Arabian Gulf.
With pruney fingers I left the baths behind and headed for the ladies changing area to prepare for the next leg of my journey to bliss. Two 55-minutes Ayurvedic treatments; The Abhyanga Full Body Massage and Shiro-Abhyanga with Shirodhara. After a short wait a smiling therapist guided me to a treatment room with an amazing view of Palm Jumeirah, what used to be my home in Dubai (I recently moved from my fabled land of Arabia). It was in this calming Arabesque room with dark and creamy interiors and subtle hints of red, green, white and black that I found my 7-star sanctuary.
In this tranquil environment an iPad was the last thing on my mind. Nevertheless that’s what the therapist handed me and asked me to answer a few questions to establish what she called my body’s blue print. I then had to choose between three different Ayurvedic oils and pick the scent that captivated me the most. The therapeutic ability of the essential oil of my choice was apparently also what my body needed the most. It came as no surprise to me that I had chosen the healing oil. I believe there is a lot of wisdom in ancient medicine.
After a quick soak in a lovely rose petal foot-bath, I slipped into the oh so luxurious treatment bed dressed in champagne coloured satin-like cotton sheets. To soft relaxing music the therapist massaged my body with her warm hands and healing oil. The Abhyanga is a massage using slow, smooth strokes to stimulate the flow of Prana (life force). A deeply relaxing massage that made me drift in and out of consciousness. Pure bliss!
The next part of my treatment was the Shirodhara. In Ayurvedic medicine, Shiro translates to head and dhara means flow. This modality originated centuries ago in India. Warmed jojoba oil was poured into a copper pot suspended over my third eye, or forehead. The oil was administered in a small stream for about 15 minutes to help release endorphins creating a sense of deep relaxations. Shirodhara is said to be one of the oldest therapeutic treatments in the world, and research indicates that this unique therapy increases vasodilation (widening of blood vessels that results from relaxation of the muscular walls of the vessels) in the brain. Shirodhara is also said to be stimulating, strengthening and calming to the central nervous system.
With hair saturated in oil, it was time for the Shiro-Abhyanga. An Indian head and face massage that not only improves the condition of the hair and scalp; but is also said to be a powerful method for relieving stress, anxiety and tension. A lovely mist was sprayed on my face to reawaken me after the treatment, followed by a cup of Ayurvedic herbal infusion (ginger tea) to further restore my body’s energy flow.
On previous visits I’ve completed my spa experience with Talise Treats (finger sandwiches and pastries à la afternoon tea) accompanied by fresh juices, coffee or tea in the Assawan Amphitheater. But that was before I went gluten-free! The Amphitheater is a large area with lots of natural light and vibrant colours – and a great place to get a birds eye view of the floors below.
The 18th floor is in reality the 36th floor as each suite covers two levels. And unless you have an issue with heights, I highly recommend a treatment room with a view. A spa visit is a lot more than your time on the table. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the spa facilities before and after your treatment.
Driving home I felt so relaxed and calm that the crazy driver hugging my car bumper couldn’t agitate a cell in my body. My journey to bliss did not come cheap, but it was worth every dirham.