Spa Dubai

THE ART OF RELAXATION

It's easy enough to simply show up at a spa and expect to be wowed. After all, it's not just the decor that's gotten sophisticated. The prolific pace of spa openings has inspired equally eloquent spa treatment menus, elaborate facilities and fresh ways of making you feel whole again. The flip side of this new world of choices is that finding your way through them all can be daunting and almost contrary to your objectives. Not to worry: The good news is that the rules of the game have remained pretty basic. Regardless of the setting - whether super luxurious or cheerfully modest - it's entirely possible (and, in fact, required) for you to be positively transformed by your spa visit. Here's how.



Go Often

Honestly, there's nothing more enlightening than experience. Learn what you like, what heals and nurtures your body and soul. The actual act of visiting a spa is truly the only way to discover what works for you. The more you try, the more you will learn what you like (and don't like) and each visit can increase your ability to reap its benefits. In a way, this one simple idea impacts all of the tips and tricks of the trade that follow as it represents a commitment to your well-being. If you can figure out a way to afford it - monetarily, time-wise or spiritually - monthly, quarterly or biannual visits can change your life into a healthful, vibrant event.

Frequency can also help you define the outcome of your session. Do you tend to want to curl up for a nap afterward or do you leave invigorated? Is a deluxe body treatment the only way you can sanely face a big night out? These are reasonable issues to consider. We're all quite different. Only you will know you.

Ask Questions

If you're trying a spa for the first time, you may want to find out what extras they have to offer, especially steam/sauna options that will help rid you of toxins and tension before and after. If it's a local spa, you may even want to pop in beforehand for a visit and make sure the decor is soothing for you. (One woman's rococo splendor is someone else's nightmare.)

Next, inquire about the menu. It will save both you and the spa reception/booking agent a lot of time if you have taken a moment to look at their treatment menu online or as a brochure. Make note of the things that interest you and ask the booking agent if she thinks any of these are right for you based on your experience level, preferences and health concerns (if any). If you're getting no help from this person, this may not be the spa for you. These are nurturing environments. And the best ones have well-trained staff on hand to guide you through the process and answer questions.

Understand Your Treatment

Knowledge is indeed a powerful tool when leveraged on spa treatments. Being informed about how a certain therapy may be able to affect you (whether in the sense of pure relaxation or for getting over a particularly harrowing party season) can deepen your session - both emotionally and physiologically.

Understanding the cultural background to a service can enrich it as well. Javanese lulur, for example, is offered on many spa menus now but its origins are nearly sacred, having been a ritual reserved for the 40 days leading up to a young woman's wedding. The spices and textures all have meaning, as does the sequence of therapies. Even if you're not a bride-to-be, the beauty of its history can embellish the experience with exoticism, romance and respect.

Other treatments, such as a seaweed bath and algae wrap, are detoxifying therapies that can disturb your physical equilibrium as they strive to eliminate toxins from your system. This isn't to say one should avoid powerful treatments. On the contrary; use them wisely and understand some of the ways to support their effects afterward. A wise therapist will advise you of follow-up behavior - be it not drinking alcohol for the evening or taking a hot soak and a nap immediately after.

Drink Water

It's crucial to drink plenty of it before, during and after your visit. Water hydrates the body's tissues on a cellular level, prompting the system to cleanse itself and function with fluidity. Just as you would want to hydrate before a workout, well-watered muscles (including those of the face) respond better to the activating pressures of massage, allowing the therapist to work more deeply.

Sufficient hydration also encourages the removal of toxins. Flushing your system will reward you with compliments on how great your skin looks, how well rested you seem, etc. Drink up.

Eat Lightly

The days preceding your visit can help prepare you mentally and physically for your treatment. Cutting back on (or eliminating) sugar, caffeine and alcohol and hard to digest foods like red meat will prime your system to detoxify with ease. You're also likely to feel lighter, happier about your body and more in tune with yourself. Plus, it increases the likelihood of your "staying clean" afterward, to extend the bliss of your visit and more fully reap its rewards.

Take Your Time

Visiting a spa means you're taking time out for yourself. (Even if you're going with a friend or lover, the therapy is yours alone.) Allow for plenty of time before and after your booking in order to transition from your real world to the spa world. Taking the time to unwind and slow down before your appointment will make your visit more pleasant (mind) and more beneficial (body). And, with most spas running like clockwork with no more than 10 minutes between sessions to allow for prepping the room for the next client, every minute counts. When you're late, spas can't afford to give you that time at the other end of your treatment, which means you've just taken your 50-minute massage down to a 40-minute session. Suffice it to say, your body would have loved to soak up the extra attention.

Ample time before your scheduled treatment also allows you to use a spa's steam and other preparatory facilities, helping you to relax before you hit the table. In the case of heat therapies like steam, sauna or whirlpool, giving yourself a minimum of 15 minutes to indulge will begin relaxing your muscles (for deeper massage penetration), revving circulation and quieting your mind.

Speak Up

Like good sex, a good spa session requires that you communicate what you like - or at least don't like. It could be pressure, music, conversation, scent, temperature... don't accept what you don't want. You are in charge.

I learned this particular lesson the hard way having suffered a Watsu treatment (which involves floating in the arms of your therapist) with someone who had clearly just eaten onions for lunch. I said nothing but was distracted the entire time by the odor. What a waste. The smart thing to do would have been to say something then and there. It may have required rescheduling (onion breath doesn't disappear instantly), but I was at a resort and could easily have come back that evening. Instead, I spoke to the spa manager afterward to prevent it from happening to another timid soul. Unfortunately, bringing these issues up after the fact leaves the spa without many options to make things better for you.

Although it's common courtesy to avoid aggressive communication, in a spa it is particularly unproductive. You may well be disrupting the perfectly peaceful experience of fellow patrons who were wise enough to get what they wanted. Consider the cause and effect of your comments; most therapists really are doing their best. One need not dismiss the entire spa out of hand; sometimes we have simply been paired with the wrong person. It's also possible we weren't willing to let someone please us either.

Make a Gender Choice

I hear fewer and fewer spas ask clients about their preference for a male or female therapist. But some of us simply are more at ease with one gender or the other. (Authentic Ayurvedic treatments in India are traditionally administered by the same gender for energetic reasons.) Keep in mind that therapists are not in the business of assessing your thighs, cellulite or unshaved legs. Their job is to unwind your muscles, refresh your skin or give you a moment of peace. Talent comes in all shapes, sizes and genders. In the end, this decision is really just another aspect of the "go often" rule; follow it, and you'll find out what you like.

Pay in Advance

By dealing with finances up front, you can just drift out afterward. Allowing a 15 percent tip is fair to include in advance (although some spas include it in the cost of the service), but you may want to have extra bills on hand to say "thank you" for an extraordinary experience. You can simply leave the money in an envelope with the front desk on your way out.

This method also eliminates the stress of sales pitches while you're trying to relax. As interested in a new skincare regimen as you may be, it is within reason to ask your therapist to note her recommendations in writing and give them to you when you leave. This way you can consider purchases calmly following the session or at another time when you'd rather shop.

Learn to Relax

Relaxing the muscles and settling the mind are a great assist to your therapist. Even if you're dead tired when you hit the table, it's not always easy to relax (although practicing the first tip - spa often - can help free you of any anxiety or unease). Various mind-over-matter techniques like deep breathing and visualization come in handy and help bodywork go deeper. Relaxing helps keep your mind in your body or at least in the room.

Focusing on one's breath is the essence of meditation, as well as the apex of many forms of exercise. In addition, to help nervous or newly arrived clients, many spas are now weaving guided visualization directly in with the treatment/massage. In some cases it's basic training, but in others it really is a mechanism to help you become present... not rushing through the airport or replaying a frustrating conversation through your mind. It can also assist in the healing process.

Stay Calm

Unless you're someone who finds massage or any other spa treatment super-energizing, you may not want to plan a strenuous day or host a dinner party for 10 afterward; savor the moment and let the healing sink in.

This is especially worth noting if you're going in for something detoxifying. I made that mistake once after a phenomenal Ayurvedic afternoon. I spoiled it all within an hour (another bad move - I had to rush after relaxing) by drinking sake at a sushi dinner party. Because my system was so open and especially reactive to "toxins," I was knocked out for days. Granted, I had no idea how powerful the treatment was going to be and should have been advised beforehand by the spa, but playing it safe and laying low would have been wise regardless.

Book in Advance

It is all too common to look forward to spa-ing on a trip but find the spa fully booked upon arrival. Call ahead. (The telephone is still far more reliable for appointments than online systems.) This is truly one of the only ways to get the time, therapy and results you want, and it's especially crucial if you're traveling and want to enjoy a spa treatment at your hotel.

I'm certainly not one to talk - I can barely commit to a dinner date with friends more than a day or two in advance. But in order to get the most out of your spa investment - in time, dollars and well-being - advance booking puts you a lot closer to success. Planning ahead allows you to book the therapist you want, the time of day you want and the treatment you want. Plus, you'll be able to plan your own time (food, exercise, fun) around it.

An unscientific survey of spas reveals that most people appear to prefer spa-ing later in the day, with the end of the week - especially Friday and Saturday - being the busiest. Cruise ship spas do most of their business between ports and in the late afternoon before formal dinners. If you'd like to be in a crowd or jostle for an appointment, you can follow this timetable. But if you're more of a loner when seeking serenity, use this information to your advantage.

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