Spa review: Ritz-Carlton Dubai spa’s Arabia Felix full-body treatment is steeped in tradition

The Arabia Felix massage at the spa at Ritz-Carlton Dubai is a journey into ancient Arabia using ingredients such as camel milk, Frankincense, rose water and fine sand from the Emirates.

The therapist melts a candle made of Moroccan Argan oil and Yemeni frankincense to massage into the skin. Satish Kumar / The National
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The criteria for selecting a spa treatment often boils down to a combination of the products, the level of comfort and any specific issues you might want your therapist to target.

But how often do you find a treatment with ingredients that weave the story of the region into a luxurious experience?

From camel milk to sand from the deserts of the UAE, every element in the new signature Arabia Felix full-body treatment at the Ritz-Carlton Dubai spa is a tribute to Middle Eastern culture.

Fertile ground

Spa director Emre Kiris and his team studied several history books to create a package with ingredients that evoke curiosity about their origins while stimulating the senses.

“Felix” is Latin for fertile, and also means fortunate and blessed. Historians describe the Middle East as a land of abundance and wealth, and Arabia Felix is a throwback to the luxury associated with that.

“We wanted to have something that is rooted in this region’s geography,” says Kiris. “Arabia Felix is the ancient name given to south-western and southern Arabia, now the Asir region and Yemen.”

The massage consists of seven natural ingredients that have been sourced from across the seven seas of the South Arabian Peninsula, including the Arabian Sea, Red Sea, Dead Sea, Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean.

Top ingredients used in the massage include Dead Sea salt and locally sourced sand, as well as rose water, camel milk, bukhoor, Argan oil and frank­incense.

Kiris says the ingredients are known for their healing properties. They are meant to induce a state of calm and relax the muscles while moisturising the skin.

The treatment

I change into soft pyjamas rather than the standard robe, a detail that is unique to this package. My therapist leads me to a dimly lit room fragrant with bukhoor. Soft instrumental music plays in the background (customers can make their preferences known before the session begins).

I am given a towel sprayed with rose water to freshen up, then my feet are gently scrubbed with sea salt from Jordan and fine sand from the UAE. The exfoliants are washed off with camel’s milk, allowing the alpha-hydroxy acids that soften the skin and the vitamin C to be absorbed.

I then lie face down for my full-body massage. My therapist melts a candle made of Argan oil from Morocco and Yemeni frankincense to rub into my skin, using medium strokes over pressure points to relieve the tension knotting my muscles.

She ends with a slow head massage that sends me into a light slumber. When I awake, I am greeted with a steaming cup of hibiscus tea and dates.

The verdict

The heady fragrances as the various ingredients come into play can be overwhelming at first, but once your nose gets used to the scents, you’ll find they really complement the massage.

My skin baby-soft and smelling richly of frankincense, I went home relaxed, with new knowledge about the uses of some of the region’s best-loved products.

• A 60-minute session costs Dh720, and a 90-minute session is Dh900. To book, call 04 318 6520;