The Burj Al Arab’s Talise Spa: Pampering that’s fit for a king
Despite residing in the UAE for the thick end of four years, I hadn’t previously had cause to venture inside the iconic (for once, a genuine application of the word) Burj Al Arab.
Once I got past the hordes of camera-happy Far Eastern tourists blocking every thoroughfare and generally making the lobby feel more like a mall than a hotel, the 18th-floor Talise Spa was already an oasis of calm by comparison. The chief reason for our visit was that the spa has recently launched new lounges that are exclusively for the most monied and pampered gentlemen among us, which has evened up the gender balance 150 metres above sea level. Previously, female customers had rather more facilities to enjoy than their male counterparts.
Panoramic views of the Arabian Gulf are the main selling point of the new areas, which include a steam room and sauna that are resplendent with fog-proof windows. The steam room has a crystal frame that becomes covered with ice when heated, although we were never offered an explanation as to precisely why that’s necessary.
The views were also undeniably memorable once we were shown to our treatment room. The floor-to-ceiling windows made sure that (when we weren’t face down on the treatment table, at least) the expansive views across to the World islands and Gulf beyond were entirely unobstructed.
It would have been easy to forget that we were also here for the signature 85-minute indulgence that is the Burj Al Arab Arabic Journey, rather than a visual overload of landscapes from high in the sky. The lofty location certainly made the ordinarily mundane opening task of a foot ritual rather more stimulating, sat in a chair facing out towards the water. The amiable male therapist added amber into an oil-burner at the opposite end of the room, which lulled me into an ultra-chilled state.
The first element proper was a scrub – but, this being the Burj Al Arab, it wasn’t just any old exfoliation exercise. The central substance involved was verbena-scented sand, sourced from the UAE desert (my therapist wasn’t sure whether it was from a particular emirate, for what it’s worth). As the scrub was predominantly dry, there was definitely a suggestion that being sandpapered at a hardware store would produce a vaguely similar sensation. The super-smooth results spoke for themselves, however, after a quick trip to the spa’s showers – down the corridor, rather than in the treatment room – to wash off the residue.
The massage itself, which used patchouli and argan oils, wasn’t quite so worthy of writing home about, but from back, legs and arms to a final head rub, it was expertly executed. The journey concluded with dates and chilled sparkling date juice served in the adjacent relaxation room.
Anyone who has experienced the Jumeirah brand’s other Talise outlets across the UAE would probably agree that the Burj Al Arab’s version is only slightly more grandiose than its already-fabulous sister spas. Comparatively speaking, we’re talking “just” five-star, rather than totally out-of-this-world seven-star wonder here – maybe five-and-a-half, at a push. But the showstopping views are what truly topped off a trip to Talise here – and that’s something that no amount of fancy treatment-menu variations or silver-spoon service can beat.
• An 85-minute Burj Al Arab Arabic Journey at Talise Spa, Burj Al Arab, Dubai, costs Dh995. Call 04 301 7365 for bookings
Published: December 2, 2014 04:00 AM